Much has changed since September, when the Yuba-Sutter area was nearing its goal of moving into a lower tier in the state’s COVID-19 blueprint for reopening.

Heading into the Christmas holiday, local case counts remain high each day, and deaths due to the virus have been occurring on a nearly daily basis. The area’s only hospital, Adventist Health and Rideout, also remains at capacity due to the latest surge in cases.

“It wasn’t long ago that we were in the red tier and very close to moving into the orange tier,” said Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu. “Our case counts have more than tripled in just three months, and our hospitalizations and deaths have risen rapidly as well.” Under the tier system, the purple tier is the most restrictive, red is second-most restrictive, and orange the third level.

However, a beacon of hope came last Friday with the administering of the area’s first vaccines to local healthcare workers, Luu said.

“It was an emotional day and the first light at the end of the tunnel,” Luu said. “But rollout of the vaccine to the general public will still take months, so we can’t let our guards down yet.”

The number of COVID-19 cases increased by 171 on Monday, bringing the area’s total to 9,196 cases.

Sixty-five people were hospitalized as of Monday evening, while 208 residents recovered from the virus.

Three people died over the weekend due to the virus. Two of those deaths were Sutter County residents (one person in their late 80s and one in their early 60s), and one was a Yuba County resident in their late 80s. None of the individuals were from skilled nursing facilities and all had been hospitalized for several weeks prior to their death, Luu said.

One coronavirus-related death was reported on Monday – a total of 60 local residents have died due to the virus.

“We have two more major holidays to get through, and a few months until the vaccine becomes available to the general public,” Luu said. “I know we’re all tired of not doing what we’re used to, but we have to buckle down for this last leg before getting to the finish line.

“The holidays are about kindness and good will to each other. The best way to practice that is to do your part to not inadvertently infect others, easing the burden on our area’s only hospital, saving lives, and protecting our schools and businesses.”

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