Jessica Cejnar / Monday, May 18 @ 1:05 p.m. / Community, Emergencies, Health

Four New COVID-19 Cases Identified; Public Health Officer Releases Guidelines on Masks, Travel

Emergency officials say three of the four new COVID-19 cases identified this weekend are related to each other and may be related to a previous case from last week.

More cases may also be identified from this latest cluster, Del Norte Emergency Services Manager Kymmie Scott told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Monday. But, she said, people shouldn’t be concerned.

“I know people want to hear a lot of details about these people because they’re worried they may have come in contact with them and that’s what contact tracing is about,” Scott said. “If you are somebody who has the potential to become ill because of contact with one of these folks you’ll be identified and contacted through contact tracing.”

The newest patient is unrelated to the others, Scott said. All are recovering at home, she said.

The four new patients bring Del Norte’s total number of positive cases to eight with four recoveries, according to the Public Health Branch.

The new cases appeared on the Public Health Branch’s web page on Saturday — the day after the California Department of Public Health approved the county’s request to lift stay-at-home orders quicker than the rest of the state.

A total of 584 tests have been administered in Del Norte County as of 9:30 a.m. Monday. The results for 11 cases are pending and 565 came back negative, Public Health Branch.

On Monday, Public Health Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt issued an order advising people to have a mask on them when they’re in public and to wear said mask if they go into an enclosed space like a business or a grocery store.

Businesses that interact with the public must wear a mask, according to Rehwaldt’s order. For those that don’t interact with the public, the employer can choose whether or not wearing a mask is required, Scott said.

According to Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin, though people aren’t required to wear a mask in public, a business owner could require a customer to wear a mask in return for their service.

“If you refuse to wear a mask inside the business and they call us, at that point it would be trespassing and you could be cited for not following the order,” Griffin said. “We’ll go with education first, we’re not looking to arrest anybody for this.”

Rehwaldt’s order also asks those traveling beyond Humboldt, Curry and Josephine counties to quarantine at home for 14 days upon returning to Del Norte County, Scott said.

“There really isn’t any teeth to it, but it is in the order,” Scott said. “We’re trying to limit the amount of movement across the region. Any county that touches us is fine, but if you go past those counties, we’re asking you to quarantine.”

Del Norte County is currently in Stage 2 of California’s Resilience Roadmap, according to the Public Health Branch. In this stage, clothing stores, thrift stores, furniture stores and dine-in restaurants can reopen if they meet COVID-19 mitigation members.

Golf courses, child care, public parks, office-based businesses and services including landscaping, pet grooming and tanning facilities can also reopen. All businesses must have a written COVID-19 operations plan, according to a Friday news release from the Public Health Branch.

According to Scott, the criteria for obtaining a variance from the state was Del Norte County couldn’t have more than two positive COVID-19 cases within 14 days. It’s unclear what the disease threshold is for rescinding that variance, Scott said.

Del Norte County’s Roadmap to Recovery Working Document, released Friday, is planning for “moderate risk workplaces,” like car washes, dental services and “routine ancillary medical services” to reopen between June 3 and June 17.

Summer schools, vacation schools may also be able to reopen with small groups and planning for reopening schools in general will also begin later in Stage 2, according to the working document.

On Monday, Scott said that timeline is variable, especially if there’s an increase in positive cases. Reopening, she said, is not a one-way street.

“I kind of picture it in my head like a roller coaster, for lack of a better analogy,” Scott said. “As we go through things and there’s no cases — or disease activity lessens — and it happens for a period of time, things can open up more. But if there’s a cluster or an outbreak we may have to scale things back. We don’t want to overwhelm the limited capacity we have here at our hospital.”


Order Implementing Del Norte's Stage 2 Variance

Del Norte County Roadmap to Resilience Working Document


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