Jessica Cejnar / Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 @ 1:05 p.m.
Despite COVID Surge, Warnings to 'Forego Large Gatherings', the Del Norte County Fair's Still On
Despite 12 people in the hospital and 154 active COVID-19 cases in Del Norte County as of Wednesday and a 10th death on Tuesday, the fair is moving forward.
Masks will be available, Del Norte County Fairgrounds CEO Kimberly Floyd told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Wednesday. There will be hand sanitizer, extra hand washing stations and extra portable bathrooms. Some events have been moved outdoors and things have been “spaced out” to allow extra room for people to socially distance, Floyd said.
But, the fair is moving forward starting Thursday as planned, she said.
“People are excited,” Floyd said. “They want to come out. They want to have fair. So, what we’re recommending is if you're sick and you’re concerned, then please stay home. Make sure you wash your hands frequently, and if you want to wear a mask wear a mask. We are providing plenty of them.”
However in light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, the Del Norte Office of Emergency Services and the Public Health Branch are sitting this year’s event out.
In an email Tuesday, DNSWMA Director Tedd Ward said though the agency is still sponsoring this year’s fair, it wants to keep staff healthy as them getting sick could impact services.
Meanwhile, Emergency Services Manager Kymmie Scott said Public Health staff are busy doing contact tracing and communicating with other agencies and people looking for information. Plus, she noted, Del Norte OES is largely supported by volunteers.
“I don’t feel very comfortable asking my volunteers to staff a booth when there’s high community transmission going on,” she told the Outpost.
According to Dr. Kevin Caldwell, chairman of the Del Norte Healthcare District, since Del Norte OES and Public Health will not be at the fair, their planned COVID-19 vaccination clinic has also been cancelled.
The Healthcare District had planned to hold its clinic at the Del Norte OES and Public Health Branch's booth, Caldwell said.
"Those two organizations have pulled out because this current surge has them so overwhelmed they don't have the time to have a booth at the fair," Caldwell said. "So the fair booth and vaccinations won't be happening."
After new statistics were released on Tuesday showing that 14 new community COVID-19 cases were reported to the Public Health Branch along with one new case among the county’s incarcerated population, the Del Norte County Department of Health and Human Services released recommendations for people to forego large gatherings.
Those that were taking part in any large gatherings either indoors or outdoors were recommended to wear a mask at all times even if they were vaccinated; maintain a distance of six feet from others outside their household; wash hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer; and to refrain from sharing food or drink with people outside their household.
On Wednesday, 30 new cases were reported to the Public Health Branch making for a total of 154 active cases in Del Norte County. There are currently 12 people in the hospital.
When asked about potential guidance governing the Del Norte County Fair, DHHS Director Heather Snow told the Outpost that state orders related to large gatherings haven’t changed recently.
“I think many of us are anticipating some sort of new guidance or statement at a state level soon in response to the increased positives and the presence of the Delta variant,” she said. “When a new health officer is appointed, I am sure we will consider local orders, but we have not done anything more restrictive than the state over the course of the pandemic and I would be surprised if that happens in the future.”
A Sutter Health spokesman referred the Outpost to the county as the "best source for the numbers," but said there is an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections.
Overall, Sutter Health is requiring its employees to be completely vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30, according to a network news release. This includes doctors, vendors and volunteers coming onto a Sutter facility. They either need to have documentation on file that they are fully vaccinated or have received an approved accommodation for valid medical contraindication or religious exemption, according to the release.
Though she didn’t want to speak for the hospital, Scott pointed out that 33 people were admitted due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
“One-third of those are in there right now,” she said Wednesday. “I would hope that would be a wakeup call to people that things are changing rapidly.”