As Shasta County COVID-19 circumstances high 1,000, extra restrictions anticipated

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Shasta County COVID-19 cases reach 250 on July 20

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A billboard on Eureka Way in west Redding reminds residents to take steps to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus on Thursday, April 23, 2020. (Photo: Matthew Brannon/Record Searchlight)

The coronavirus pandemic reached a new milestone in Shasta County over the weekend as the number of confirmed cases since March topped 1,000, opening the door to tighter restrictions, health officials said.

The 167 new cases recorded over the weekend moved the total coronavirus cases since March to 1,158 and is expected to move the county into a new level of regulations on restaurants, bars, theaters and businesses.

Shasta County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Kerri Schuette said she expects state Public Health officials will announce the new restrictions Tuesday and they will go into effect on Friday.

She wasn’t sure if the county would be elevated into Tier 1.

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Rite Aid on Eureka Way in Redding advertises COVID-19 testing on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (Photo: Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight)

Shasta County COVID-19 restrictions

“And if you saw today’s report it doesn’t look like very good news for us,” Schuette said. “We’ll know tomorrow when the state releases the new numbers.” 

The county is likely this week to move to Tier 2, known as the “red tier,” because there have been four to seven new cases per 100,000 residents daily, according to the county. If the daily case rate tops seven cases per 100,000 each day, then the county goes into Tier 1 and restrictions on businesses become even tighter.

Many businesses and churches will be allowed to remain open under Tier 2, but there are restrictions on the number of residents allowed indoors at specific locations.

Covid Alert Levels in Shasta County (Photo: Skropanic, Jessica)

Schools and testing procedures

County officials said schools are not tied to the various tier ratings.

“It is recommended that a school closes when at least 5% of staff and students test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days, and school districts should close if one-quarter of schools in the districts are closed due to COVID-19 cases,” county health officials said in a press release Monday.

The county has also asked people to arrange testing through the state site (lhi.care/covidtesting), by calling their healthcare provider, or using one of the self-administered testing or healthcare sites listed at ShastaReady.org under “Get Tested.”

Part of the increase in cases has been driven by an increase at “an institution of higher learning” and at a “skilled nursing facility” in Redding, Schuette said.

Bethel Church’s School of Supernatural Ministry has been identified as a source of many  new cases, and a statewide database shows Windsor Care Center in Redding also having numerous cases.

While Bethel Church officials did not say how many cases are attributable to its School of Supernatural Ministry, it did say it has taken steps to reduce the spread of the virus among students.

While not all of the recent cases have come from Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry and a state database Windsor Care, they have contributed to a significant number of new cases, Schuette said.

The California Department of Public Health database shows Windsor Redding Care Center reported 39 infections among its residents and 25 among healthcare workers.

Eleven residents at Windsor Redding have died from COVID-19, half of all deaths in the county, according to state and county figures.

To prevent the spread among students, Bethel had said its School of Supernatural Ministry accepted fewer students for its 2020-2021 academic school year and would be operating at 70% capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic — from 2,300 students last year to 1,600 this year.

Bethel also canceled its Oct. 4 and Oct. 11 in-person church services, which have been held outdoors on its baseball field.

Bethel officials said the School of Supernatural Ministry would also pivot to online instruction and the school would ask employees who can do so to work remotely. Those who can’t, can come on campus, but must social distance and wear face coverings, spokesman Aaron Tesauro said.

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A sign seen by eastbound motorists on Highway 299 in Redding gives a reminder to “Please wash your hands and help beat COVID-19.” (Photo: Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight)

Schuette said the county has been working closely with Bethel and Windsor officials to help them control the spread of the coronavirus.

“Hopefully the message is being received that when people are sick they need to stay home until they are no longer contagious. If that happens our numbers will start to drop,” she said.

Damon Arthur is the Record Searchlight’s resources and environment reporter. He is among the first on the scene at breaking news incidents, reporting real time on Twitter at @damonarthur_RS. Damon is part of a dedicated team of journalists who investigate wrongdoing and find the unheard voices to tell the stories of the North State. He welcomes story tips at 530-338-8834 and damon.arthur@redding.com. Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today!

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