Non-healthcare employers are now required to report workplace outbreaks to Bi-County Public Health when there is an outbreak of three or more COVID-19 cases at a worksite within a 14-day period, according to a Bi-County Health press release.

The new requirement comes after AB 685 was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 17, 2020.

“It will give employers and employees the power of information and a bigger picture of how COVID-19 is affecting their workplace,” Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said. “Knowing if and when there are outbreaks will show employers that perhaps changes need to be made in order to minimize transmission among staff.”

Yuba-Sutter businesses can utilize the state’s free Shared Portal for Outbreak Tracking to help with reporting. To enroll email avasquez@co.sutter.ca.us for Sutter County or amazerolle@co.yuba.ca.us for Yuba County.

Luu said individuals 65 and over have been added to the Phase 1B Tier 1 of the county’s vaccine distribution.

“That said, we do not have the supply to start vaccinating this population yet,” Luu said. “We will have information regarding registration by next Wednesday. We are reliant on the next shipment of doses, which is expected to physically arrive Tuesday.”

Luu said as of Thursday that Yuba and Sutter have 790 doses in its possession.

Bi-County Health has been vaccinating Phase 1A eligible individuals through mass vaccination clinics. The latest one took place on Jan. 10 with 509 vaccinated individuals, according to Luu.

“There is a lot of work to host these mass vaccination clinics and we have found that one 500-persons-vaccinated clinic is much more efficient of our time and resources than multiple small-medium sized clinics of only 50-100 persons at a time,” Luu said.

Yuba-Sutter is expecting to get 1,400 doses in its allotment this week. Once those arrive, they will set up two mass vaccination clinics.

“Please be patient. The vaccine supply is not within our local control,” Luu said. “The supply varies week to week, with the range being very large ≠ anywhere between 200-1,400 doses allocated/week.”

Adventist Health/Rideout Chief Strategy Officer Monica Arrowsmith said December was a difficult month for the hospital but that things have improved in January. To deal with a higher total volume of COVID and other patients, the hospital had to hold people in the emergency department for longer and made some single bed rooms double bed rooms.

The hospital received reinforcements to help out staff in the form of National Guard nurses and traveling nurses, according to Arrowsmith.

“We try everything,” Arrowsmith said.

She said despite the high volume that people should not delay getting care and come to the hospital if they need it.

“We still don’t want people not to come,” Arrowsmith said.

Bi-county contact tracers are still having trouble with some people not answering the phone, not returning phone calls and not being forthcoming with their activities in the weeks leading up to infection, Luu said.

“Ten close contacts per confirmed case has been the average, though we suspect that number is actually much higher given the pervasive community spread of COVID-19 currently,” Luu said.

Cases increased by 97 on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 12,302. 

Seventy-one people remained hospitalized as of late Friday and 157 recovered. There are currently 1,003 active cases. To date, 104 people have died from the virus in Yuba-Sutter – two local deaths were reported on Friday. 

For information, visit bepreparedyuba.org or bepreparedsutter.org.

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