answered by Yuba-Sutter Health Officer Dr. Luu
Is the new COVID-19 strain in Yuba-Sutter?
The UK variant (B117) has been found in Yolo County, so we operate as though it is already here. The CDC estimates that this will become the dominant strain by the end of March.
This variant spreads at least 50% more rapidly than the current strain, and may be up to 30% more deadly.
This is why -- even amidst vaccine rollout -- it remains important to continue wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings, and staying home when sick.
What is open, and when can we move to a less restrictive tier?
--Yuba County is in the red tier, where some business operations are permitted to open indoors with modifications.
Sutter County is in the less restrictive orange tier. For a list of what sectors can operate in what capacity, visit the State website at covid19.ca.gov.
--We can move into less restrictive tiers once we are able to lower our case counts and test positivity. For more information on the metrics the State of California is looking for within each tier, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.
*Gov. Newsom has said this tier system will be gone by June 15-- only if hospitalization rates remain low.
We can keep the case count and test positivity low by doing our individual parts at home and in public. Social gatherings remain the largest driver of new cases, that are then spread among family and brought into the workplace. Getting vaccinated is the safest way to get back to normal.
What does this mean for schools?
Yuba-Sutter Health Officer Dr. Luu believes in-person learning may resume in accordance with the State's "Safe Schools for All" guidance with mitigation measures including: mask wearing, stable cohorts of 11-20 students per class, social distancing, and quarantine after close contact exposure.
The decision to reopen lies with your specific school district-- who you should check with for more information.
Do we still need to wear facial coverings?
CDC guidance as of May 13, 2021 includes that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations-- including local business and workplace guidance.
CDC has outlined safer activities with or without masking depending on whether or not you are fully vaccinated HERE:
How can I be sure I'm opening my business in a way the meets State requirements?
Yuba County has a team that is out in the community helping businesses reopen in ways that are both practical and creative, while still keeping customers and employees safe. This can include things like curbside operations, creating a stronger online sales presence, etc.
For information on way ensure your business aligns with the State Order, or for helpful resources, reach out to the Yuba Enterprise Solutions team at COVIDcompliance@co.yuba.ca.us or call them at 749-5648.
If we're opening up, COVID-19 must not be as much a danger as before?
No. The State and Yuba-Sutter Public Health teams recognize that COVID-19 remains an ongoing threat.
The State has allowed businesses to open up more and more in each tier according to each County's COVID-19 metrics. And with rising herd immunity thanks to vaccinations, the State's tiered system will be going away June 15, 20201-- assuming hospitalization rates remain low.
If I'm wearing a facial covering, why does it matter if I hang out in a group of 10 versus a concert of 100?
The virus is highly contagious, but also depends on how many people are in close physical contact for an extended period of time.
Your chances of getting COVID-19 passing by someone at the grocery store are less than getting it from a family member or friend—who you are more likely to be talking to/hugging/hanging out with in close proximity for a longer period of time.
When you hang out with a smaller group of people you know, that also helps with contact tracing. So, if you test positive for COVID-19, our Public Health team will have an easier time tracking down your contacts to tell them they were in contact with a positive case (privacy will be respected). Those people will be asked to be tested and quarantined to break the chain of transmission.
What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, chills, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, headache, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, even if mild, call your doctor or register for FREE COVID-19 testing at LHI.care/COVIDtesting.
If you are having difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, or if symptoms worsen, seek medical care immediately.
How serious is the coronavirus?
COVID-19, a respiratory illness, certainly can be serious—especially to vulnerable populations such as those over 60 years old and those with chronic health issues.
It can be especially dangerous if you do not seek medical care immediately if symptoms worsen or if you have difficulty breathing.
Over time, viruses mutate; that is the case with COVID-19. A new variant has emerged (B117) and will soon become the dominant strain. It spread 50% more rapidly than the current strain and can be up to 30% more deadly, which is why continuing to practice the precautions we all know is so important.
Is the coronavirus spreading through the Yuba-Sutter area?
It continues to spread to household contacts of already-postive cases, as well as extended family in other households. We have also seen in recent days positive cases going out to graduation and birthday parties.
Our contact tracing investigations have shown us that:
50% of infections originate from a social gathering (party, BBQ, etc).
5% of infections originate from the workplace.
5% of infections originate from travel.
40% of infections are of unknown origin ... meaning we cannot determine where the person became infected. This can be because the infected person cannot be reached by contact tracers, cannot remember where they have been, or are not forthcoming with contact tracers.
Without people taking the proper precautions to stay home when sick with any symptoms, even if mild, maintaining physical distance of at least 6 feet and wearing a facial covering when that is not possible, COVID-19 will continue to spread.
What does it mean to be quarantined? What is expected if I'm asked to quarantine myself?
Voluntary quarantine means keeping yourself at home to keep your family, friends, and community safe. You would separate yourself by staying in a separate room, using a separate bathroom, and not sharing food or utensils for a period of 14 days.
Why can't you tell us who the sick people are and where they live?
Federal laws are established to protect patient privacy, and those laws are very strict. We are not allowed to give out any information that may provide any indication of a person's identity.
What is Public Health's role in all of this?
If you test positive, a nurse from the public health department will call you to see how you are doing and offer you support. The nurse will also ask you about any close friends, co-workers or family that you have been in contact with so they can call them too. It is ok to share this information with the Health Department. The Health Department is only interested in supporting you and any close family members and contacts that might have to be isolated to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Contact tracers will NEVER ask you for financial information, for your Social Security number, or immigration status. They will ask your date of birth, address, and work information for purposes of tracking outbreaks and breaking the chain of transmission.