A fourth and fifth death due to COVID-19 within the last week was reported Tuesday. The latest two were Sutter County residents, both in their 70s and both with underlying conditions.

State officials announced the Yuba-Sutter area will remain in the most restrictive tier for the time being, as local COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased significantly in recent weeks. According to the state, Sutter County’s average daily case count is 65.4 new cases per 100,000 people per day, while Yuba County’s is 42.5 new cases per 100,000 people per day, though even those numbers don’t truly reflect what is happening on the ground currently because there is a delay in data reconciliation at the state level.

Sutter County currently has a test positivity rate of 20.1 percent, while Yuba County’s is 16.2 percent.

“It is astounding that nearly one in five individuals who get tested for COVID-19 tests positive,” said Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu. “This is more than triple the state’s test positivity average of 6 percent.”

A surge in cases is being experienced across the state, so much so that the state has indicated it is considering another stay-at-home order. Regardless of what the state implements, Luu encouraged residents to listen to medical and health experts – doctors, nurses, public health and health officers – who are all urging community members to do their parts in public and at home to slow the spread.

“Our actions, our sacrifices, will not only help relieve the burden on our area’s only hospital and its hard-working staff, it will undoubtedly save lives and prevent unnecessary suffering,” Luu said.

The local hospital currently has 12 COVID-19 patients in the ICU, which is double from less than a week ago.

“Adventist-Rideout is now housing two COVID-19 patients to a room, instead of just one, to help with occupancy challenges,” Luu said. “In addition, we have elevated the concern about the precarious situation of Adventist-Rideout to the state, and they are trying to help locate additional staff .... It is a challenge shared statewide and countrywide.”

Luu said it will take little actions by every resident to help slow the spread. The tenets health experts regularly share with the public are not arbitrary, she said. Residents are being asked to wear facial coverings in public or social distance, and to stay home when sick. Those that are in close contact to someone who has COVID-19, or if they feel they need to get tested, are also encouraged to isolate at home until results are provided, as many cases have originated from people not staying home when sick and bringing it into the workplace.

“This holiday season, let’s commit to kindness to those around by doing our parts to not inadvertently infect them,” Luu said.

The number of COVID-19 cases increased by 135 on Tuesday, bringing the area’s total to 5,858 cases.

Fifty-one people were hospitalized as of Tuesday evening, while 162 residents recovered from the virus. Twenty-nine local residents have died due to COVID-19.

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