The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Yuba-Sutter area increased by 23 on Thursday, bringing the total to 500 cases.

Of the new cases, 14 were in Sutter County and nine were from Yuba County.

Two additional patients recovered on Tuesday and 21 local residents are currently hospitalized, six of whom are in the intensive care unit. Seven people have died from the virus in the Yuba-Sutter area to date.

Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said she hoped the Yuba-Sutter area would be able to get back to business and avoid another spike in cases after new protocols were implemented following the first wave of the virus, though that’s not how the situation played out.

“Since day one, we have said that we can reopen so long as everyone practices the tenets in place,” Luu said. “With our contact investigations, we know this has not been happening: people continue to go to and host large social gatherings where they do not practice social distancing of six feet or more, wear facial coverings, or stay home when sick. It shouldn’t need to be said but if you are at all sick with any symptoms, you should not be going to social gatherings or work.”

Because of the recent spike in cases, Sutter County was placed on the state’s watchlist on Thursday, and Yuba County is expected to be added to the list this weekend. After three days on the list, designated businesses – bars, pubs and brewpubs – will be required to close.  Indoor operations at restaurants, card rooms, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters and bowling alleys must close their indoor operations, though outdoor operations will still be allowed.

“The state will look at Yuba-Sutter numbers continually during the three weeks,” Luu said. “If they see improvement to the point that we are meeting all the state’s metrics again, then we will be removed and can phase back in the operations. If we continue to exceed the state metrics (greater than 100 cases per 100,000 people population in 14 days, and a test positivity rate over 8 percent – test positivity is currently 19 percent for Sutter County and 25 percent for Yuba County) we will remain on the state monitoring list until we improve.”

Luu encouraged residents to adhere to tenets in place that are meant to protect them from the chance of exposure to the virus. Because the virus is transmitted through droplets expelled from a person’s nose and mouth, facial coverings keep those droplets close to the individual and help reduce the transmission to another person.

“The better we all adhere to the tenets we all know, the sooner we can get off this monitoring list and continue business in a safe manner. And while practicing these tenets in public is important, it is also vital to practice these at home, since we know at least half of infections stem from private gatherings,” Luu said.

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