Shasta County employs dozens of people who work to trace the contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19, according to public health officials.
Redding Record Searchlight
Nine more positive tests in Shasta County
2:11 p.m., Friday, August 14
Another nine people have tested positive for coronavirus in Shasta County, health officials announced Friday.
That brings the county’s confirmed caseload to 488 with 10 deaths. Two people are currently in the intensive care unit.
The latest people to test positive are:
- Two women and three men in their 20s
- A man in his 30s
- Two men in their 40s
- A man in his 50s
County asks health workers to take precautions against COVID
2:18 p.m., Thursday, August 13
In an ironic turn of events, Shasta County officials are imploring a new group of people to take COVID-19 precautions seriously: health workers.
Kerri Schuette, a spokeswoman for the county, said the agency has been hearing from residents “who were troubled that their healthcare providers or their staff were not wearing masks.”
A sign at the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency on Breslauer Lane gives thanks to health-care workers. (Photo: Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight)
While it might seem ironic that health workers would ignore COVID safety guidelines, the pandemic — and specifically mask-wearing — has become increasingly politicized and plagued by misinformation. Some people, for example, believe masks are useless or even harmful, despite studies to the contrary and repeated pleas from virtually all major health organizations to use them.
The county released a joint statement with the North Valley Medical Association’s board of directors Thursday, asking those workers “to do your part, as leaders in our community, to…keep yourselves, your staff and your patients safe.”
“As healthcare providers, we want to care for our patients and protect them from harm. Our Hippocratic Oath compels us to “first do no harm,'” the statement reads.
Gregory Winters, a 70-year-old Redding resident, said he filed complaints with the county, state and other agencies after a phlebotomist who took his blood in June wasn’t wearing a mask.
“She said, ‘Well, I’ll put one on if you want,'” Winters said, adding that he was wearing a mask the entire time. “That’s really close work…I was more angry than anything else.”
The county said it’s gotten complaints from other residents that certain medical offices “are not social distancing in the office waiting areas and that other patients, office staff and even medical providers are not wearing masks.”
“There is no way to know if staff, providers, or other patients in these offices could have COVID-19 and might spread it to patients or staff,” the county’s statement said, noting that up to 45% of people infected could be asymptomatic.
Winters said he knows a respiratory therapist who was “believing that this thing was all going to be gone by early summer and it was just like the flu.”
“It’s just amazing how politicized it’s gotten, and of course that comes from the very top,” Winters said. “If there had been leadership from the federal government, there’d be stronger compliance in a red county like Shasta.”
With 479 positive tests, the county’s caseload may seem low compared to some areas, but officials noted daily cases here quadrupled from mid-June to mid-July alone.
Meanwhile, some estimates indicate an area’s caseload is actually 6 to 10 times its confirmed numbers, yet that would still put Shasta County well below the 21,000 cases that might establish herd immunity, the county said.
The county now asks those employees — like everyone else — to wear masks, keep physical distance, wash their hands and avoid gatherings.
“You’d think the people have been trained and…they’ve got to deal with the people who do get sick,” Winters said.
Three positive tests in Shasta County confirmed Thursday
2:01 p.m., Thursday, August 13
Three more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Shasta County, officials announced Thursday.
The latest people infected are a woman in her 20s, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 70s.
The county’s caseload now stands at 479, with 10 deaths.
County confirms 8 new cases on Wednesday
3 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 12
Shasta County health officials confirmed eight new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday afternoon, according to the county’s public health website.
That brings the county total to 476 confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak began. Ten residents have died.
Two of the eight new patients reported no symptoms of the virus. None of the eight are hospitalized. Among the new patients were:
- A woman in her 20s
- A man in his 30s
- A woman in her 40s
- A woman and two men in their 50s
- Two women in their 60s
Of the 476 totals, 40 cases are currently active, 38 people are in isolation and two patients are hospitalized, according to public health officials. About 285 people are in quarantine.
Here is a breakdown by gender and age of confirmed coronavirus cases in Shasta County since January. (Photo: Shasta County Public Health)
Shasta County officials respond to rally for reopening
12:25 p.m., Wednesday, August 12
Residents and business owners demanding Shasta County reopen completely rallied outside the Board of Supervisors chambers at Tuesday’s night meeting. But while county officials said they support the residents’ right to voice their concerns, they noted it’s the state behind the health guidelines under fire.
“Our local health officer has not made any restrictions over and above what the state of California has, so we are doing all that we can to keep the county as open as possible,” said Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency Director Donnell Ewert. “We are one of roughly 20 counties that still are not on the (state) monitoring list…so Shasta County is open; it is, again, in the category of most open counties in California.”
More than two dozen broke from the rally outside to go inside and address supervisors during the public comment period.
They implored supervisors to allow churches, schools and businesses bound by state health restrictions to reopen and end the mask mandate. They claimed the science doesn’t support the restrictions that have been placed on local businesses, chiding the county for taking away their rights and acting out of fear.
San Francisco Deli co-owner Brenda Luntey told supervisors that she has defied state orders by keeping her restaurant open after the state closed down indoor dining again in mid-July.
“All local businesses should be treated the same as big box stores…If you are going to shut down businesses, then shut them all down or don’t shut any down,” another speaker said.
Shasta County Chief Executive Officer Matt Pontes commended the speakers, including those who brought their children.
“It was great to see a lot of people turn out, and it was great to see the kids also be a part of the conversation,” he said.
Ewert maintained his support for the right to the dissent, but also pointed out that few of the speakers were wearing masks or keeping their distance from each other.
“We believe strongly that people have a right to do that,” Ewert said of residents voicing their concerns. “That’s allowed in the guidelines. We obviously would prefer if people wear a mask and social distance, and that wasn’t necessarily happening.”
Another 10 cases recorded in Shasta County on Tuesday
2 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11
Health officials confirmed 10 new cases of the coronavirus in 24 hours, according to a Shasta County Public Health announcement issued Tuesday afternoon.
Three of the new patients showed no symptoms of the virus. Two cases are still under investigation and none are hospitalized.
Here is how the new cases break down:
- A teenage boy
- A man in his 20s
- A man in his 30s
- A woman in her 40s
- A woman and a man in their 50s
- A woman and two men in their 60s
- A man in his 80s
Those 10 cases come on the heels of Monday’s announcement of 41 new cases recorded by health officials over the weekend.
The total number of cases confirmed since January in Shasta County is 469. As of Tuesday afternoon, ten of the 469 patients have died as a result of the virus.
Of the 39 patients with active cases of the coronavirus, two are in the hospital in intensive care, 37 are in isolation and 283 are in quarantine.
More than 26,600 people have been tested for the virus.
While Shasta County announced 10 new cases Tuesday, Trinity County reported its first case since July 30. That brings the county’s total number of coronavirus cases since March to six.
Shasta County sees 41 new cases over weekend
2:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10
There were 41 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus over the past few days in Shasta County, health officials announced Monday.
That number brings total cases to 459. Of those patients, 38 are in isolation, and two are hospitalized.
Thirteen showed no symptoms.
The newest people to test positive did so on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Here is how the 41 new cases break down:
- Five girls and five boys under 13
- One teenage girl and two teenage boys
- Five women and one man in their 20s
- Three women and four men in their 30s
- Three women and two men in their 40s
- Two men in their 50s
- One woman and three men in their 60s
- One man in his 70s
- Two women and one man in their 80s
In Shasta County, 10 people have died as a result of the virus, according to health officials.
About 26,000 people have been tested for the virus in the county.
Shasta County Office of Education releases guide as students, teachers return to school amid COVID-19
2:59 p.m. Monday, August 10
With many schools set to reopen this week, the Shasta County Office of Education has released its updated guide to help parents and students prepare for what school will look like this academic year, including precautions that families should take on days their children will be on campus, how sports and physical education will be adapted and what will happen if schools report cases of COVID-19.
“School will not look the same this year, but over time, we will all get used to the modifications,” said Shasta County Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom. “Education is essential for our children’s well-being and our school partners have worked hard to come up with plans that balance the need for education with student safety.”
The guide, titled “School Year Planning: A Guide to Address the Challenges of COVID-19,” is available at www.ShastaReady.org. A section about the return to school of students with underlying health conditions and other needs is included in the guide.
The California Department of Public Health has also released updated guidance for schools and school-based programs and supplementary FAQs.
Each of the county’s school districts decided on its return plan, with some choosing distance learning, others opting for a 5-day-a-week return to school and others selecting a hybrid of in-person and distance learning.
Also, school districts have all created plans to minimize risk for students and staff returning to school in a variety of ways, including physical distancing, mask-wearing and having children remain in cohorts for the classroom, meals and physical activity.
For more information on preparing your children for the return to school, go to www.ShastaReady.org and select “Frequently Asked Questions.”
Wildfire smoke may increase COVID-19 risk
1:45 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10
Health officials warns those living in areas with wildfire smoke maybe more likely to contract the coronavirus, if exposed.
Wildfire smoke can irritate people’s lungs, cause inflammation, affect people’s immune systems and make them more prone to lung infections, including COVID-19, according to an announcement issued Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most cloth and other kinds of masks used to slow the spread of COVID-19 can’t offer much protection against the harmful particles present in wildfire smoke, the CDC warns. While masks with N95 respirators provide some protection against both smoke particles and COVID-19, supplies of N95 masks are often reserved for frontline health workers.
For more information on dealing with smoke during the pandemic, go to https://bit.ly/2XMw4w8.
New food delivery service opens
12:56 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10
The latest food delivery service to emerge in Shasta County during the coronavirus pandemic is Redding nonprofit Providence International.
Providence is in its second year of offering a weekly subscription service, which delivers locally grown fresh produce to homes and businesses.
Because of the pandemic, “there’s definitely been an uptick in subscriptions,” said Providence COO Shawn Kniep. The food delivery service now has between 175 and 200 customers in Shasta and Tehama counties, he said.
The residential delivery service features food from about 15 local farmers, including crops from Providence’s own Garden of Hope Farm.
Some of the farmers involved “used to utilize farmer’s markets, but because of COVID, maybe they don’t want to participate in that way,” Kniep said.
“It’s a no-contact alternative, plus the convenience of having it delivered to your door. The fallout from the COVID has boosted demand for sustainable and local food security. It is something that has gained a lot of traction,” he said.
Consumers can subscribe to an assortment ranging from organic produce, dairy, meat and eggs to locally harvested honey.
This year’s food boxes are being delivered via refrigerated vans from startup Field to Fork Tehama.
More information is available on Providence’s website or at 530-215-1032.
COVID-19 case counts
2:35 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14
Here’s where COVID-19 case totals stood in far Northern California, according to reports from each county’s public health department:
- Butte County, 1,321
- Shasta County, 488
- Colusa County, 409
- Glenn County, 396
- Tehama County, 312
- Siskiyou County, 110
- Lassen County, 67 in the general population and 611 in its state prisons (No updates posted since Aug. 9)
- Plumas County, 39
- Trinity County, 6
- Modoc County, 5
Far Northern California coastal counties:
- Mendocino, 513
- Humboldt, 302
- Del Norte, 105
Here’s how the latest statewide COVID-19 numbers break down:
- Confirmed cases in California: 593,141
- Deaths: 10,808
- Hospitalizations from confirmed cases: 5,236
- Hospitalizations from suspected cases: 1,188
- Cases, age 0-17: 57,230
- Cases, age 18-49: 357,676
- Cases, age 50-64: 113,099
- Cases, age 65+: 64,298
- Age unknown/missing: 834
- Health workers infected: 27,493
- Health workers who have died: 142
Here’s the caseload nationwide and worldwide, as reported by Johns Hopkins University:
- U.S. cases: 5.29 million
- U.S. deaths: 168,154
- Global cases: 21 million
- Global deaths: 761,612
More: Coronavirus live updates this week: Another death in Shasta County
More: School districts reconsider opening due to COVID-19 concerns
More: Help available for those who lost health insurance during COVID-19 crisis
Alayna Shulman covers a little bit of everything for the Record Searchlight. In particular, she loves writing about the issues of this community through long-form storytelling. Her work often centers on local crime, features and politics, and has won awards for best writing, best business coverage and best investigative reporting in the California News Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. Follow her on Twitter (@ashulman_RS), call her at 530-225-8372 and, to support her work, please subscribe.
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