A Sutter County resident in their early 60s died due to COVID-19 on Tuesday night, bringing the area’s total death count to 18 people.

Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said the individual had been in the ICU for weeks and had some underlying medical conditions.

“Our hearts are with this individual’s family, and the families of everyone who has died from this terrible virus,” Luu said.

Still, Luu sees some progress.

Following the state’s latest update to tier designations for counties, Luu said she feels optimistic that the Yuba-Sutter area is getting closer to moving into the next lower, less restrictive tier.

“We see how hard our community has been working to slow the spread while continuing to support their local businesses and neighbors. This is encouraging to see so let’s keep it up,” Luu said. “While we remain on the purple tier, we are close to moving to red and seeing more businesses open up. Let’s stay strong and continue to practice those tenets we know to keep from getting those around us sick, should we unknowingly be infected.”

Luu said having residents get tested remains a key factor in the tier designation, as even negative tests play a role. She encouraged residents to get tested if they have any symptoms, even if mild; have been in close contact with a confirmed case; or have engaged in riskier behavior like attending a party or barbecue where the tenets weren’t followed. Testing results currently take about 2-3 days to come back and walk-ins are welcome at either of the area’s OptumServe sites.

“This test result not only helps us move into the next tier, but it will give you peace of mind when interacting with your household members and coworkers,” she said. “No one wants to inadvertently infect someone else.”

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by six on Wednesday, bringing the area’s total to 2,825 cases.

Sixteen people were hospitalized as of Wednesday evening, while 32 residents recovered from the virus.

 

Importance of flu shots

While the flu season starts in September, health officials typically start seeing a spike in cases between December and February, said Dr. Homer Rice, director of Yuba County Public Health.

Similar to COVID-19, the flu is contagious and is inhaled or transmitted by an individual’s hands to their nose, mouth or eyes, causing an infection in the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). Symptoms of the flu, which can range from mild to severe, can include fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, chills and diarrhea. It can also cause secondary infections like pneumonia, which can be very serious for more vulnerable populations.

Rice said the virus can last several weeks and individuals typically become contagious one day before developing symptoms. With fears of a “twin-demic” during flu season due to the ongoing pandemic, health officials say it’s extremely important for residents to get their flu shots this year.

“Science shows that you can be sick with the seasonal flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which certainly could worsen the symptoms, as most are the same for both viruses,” Rice said. “Especially if you have heart or respiratory issues, the possibility of a ‘twin-demic’ is very concerning.”

When administered, the flu vaccine stimulates an individual’s immune system to build up a defense against the invading virus. Rice said it allows the person to have “sentinels” that will recognize the flu virus if the person is infected and mount an immediate response to neutralize it.

“Your own immune status plays a part in whether you have a really strong reaction to the virus or a lesser response,” he said. “That is why some people still get some symptoms, but they will be milder than if you did not get the vaccine.”

Flu shots can be obtained at most retail pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, and Target. They are free with most insurance plans and can range between $20-$45 for people without insurance.

“It takes about two weeks after you get your shot for the vaccine to take effect, so it is better to get the vaccine early so you are protected,” Rice said.

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