Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, March 10, 2020 @ 4:18 p.m. / Health, Local Government

Though It's Not In Del Norte County Yet, COVID-19 Concerns Reach Board of Supervisors

Source: CDC

COVID-19 may not have shown its face in Del Norte County, but that hasn’t stopped residents from claiming officials aren’t doing enough to address the disease.

Robert Derego, owner of Sticky Grove, told the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that he’s considering shutting down his cannabis dispensary due to risk from the novel coronavirus. Commenting on a consent agenda item to enable the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office to use correctional officers as extra law enforcement during a state of emergency, Derego said he felt was inadequate.

“I feel we’re underestimating the impact even if we don’t get a case in the county,” Derego said of COVID-19. “You see what’s happening in Seattle… this is a big deal.”

Derego’s comments come after the Del Norte County Public Health Branch announced Monday that though results of a suspected case of COVID-19 were negative, another possible case has been reported. Commercial testing will be available for all local healthcare providers this week, Public Health Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt announced.

Rehwaldt pointed out that this is new territory for local healthcare and emergency officials and providers are still learning about the novel coronavirus.

“I am pleading with our community not to overreact to fear and rumor and also to not start requesting unnecessary tests,” he said. “First of all, the rollout for the commercial labs is just getting started and they have not worked out the kinks in the system. It will be a steep learning curve for everyone, including our local providers who may not yet have enough supplies on hand to collect the tests.”

The best protection continues to be for people to cover their coughs and sneezes either by coughing into their elbow or into facial tissues and disposing of them and to wash their hands, Rehwaldt writes. People are also encouraged to disinfect objects and surfaces at home or work that others may have touched or coughed on.
People should also “get used to the idea of staying home” when they are sick and treat their cold as though it were the flue.

“And be prepared to do this more than once,” Rehwaldt said. “Don’t assume that you will know the difference when the coronavirus actually does arrive! We would encourage all employers to become familiar with the CDC recommendations.”

Those at greatest risk for infections include the elderly, those with serious chronic illnesses and those whose immune system is compromised, according to Rehwaldt.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina responded to Derego’s comment regarding the use of correctional officers as extra law enforcement in an emergency.

That item and another — a request for proposals for professional services to prepare an emergency operations plan for the county — aren’t related to the coronavirus, Sarina said. The grant-funded emergency operations plan would cover all emergencies in Del Norte County and disasters and would be a format for all responders, he said.

The request for proposals is to find a consultant who could update Del Norte County’s existing emergency operations plan, Sarina said.

The following item, a resolution authorizing the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office to use state correctional officers as extra law enforcement in an emergency is in response to Assembly Bill 524, according to Sarina.

The resolution adds Del Norte County to 32 others who have similar policies regarding using correctional officers to help local emergency management, according to the staff report.

“I would caution everybody that while the test did come back negative in Del Norte County, there will be other tests — there very well could be a positive test,” Sarina said. “The public health department has been engaged for quite some time with the state and the federal government and the processes they’ve set in place are what is being followed.”

Sarina urged residents to go to the Public Health Branch’s website for further information.


Dr. Rehwaldt's letter — Page 1

Dr. Rehwaldt's letter — Page 2

Dr. Rehwaldt's letter — Page 3


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