We continue to monitor the county’s status on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which places counties in different tiers that determine their ability to reopen based on their COVID-19 case numbers and positivity rate. Placer County was initially placed in the Purple Tier (Widespread) and then moved into the Red Tier (Substantial) as a result of improving case data. Based on our most recent numbers we anticipated moving into the Orange Tier (Moderate) this week, which would allow for the easing of some additional restrictions, but because our case numbers exceeded the allowable threshold for the Orange Tier we did not move. The good news is our testing positivity rate did meet the requirements for the Orange Tier, however because the state requires both metrics to fall within the range established for each tier we remain in the more restrictive tier. The other piece of good news here is that overall our numbers seem to be trending in the right direction – downward.

One thing to keep in mind is that the state requires the lower numbers to be met for two weeks before a  county is moved into a less-restrictive tier. The state updates the status information for counties every Tuesday and I will continue to keep you updated on any changes to our status. You can also monitor the information on your own by visiting the Blueprint for a Safer Economy website.

The county is also taking steps to better understand the spread of COVID-19 in Placer County through a seroprevalence study that will be conducted by Stanford University this fall. The study will test a random representative cross-section of Placer County residents for COVID-19 antibodies to assess current COVID-19 prevalence in the County, the results of which will help inform the Board’s policy decisions moving forward.

Mailers will be sent to a random but representative sample of Placer County residents inviting them to take part in the study. Participants will be provided a finger-stick blood test to complete at home and return to Stanford for analysis.  The results of all positive tests and 10% of negative tests will be rerun to produce results with 99% accuracy and the researchers will develop an online dashboard detailing their findings on the demographic and geographic prevalence of the virus in Placer County. A report on the study’s results will also be presented at a future Board of Supervisors meeting by the Stanford researchers. I will keep you informed of the date the report will be presented to the Board of Supervisors. In the meantime, please take care of yourself, your loved ones and our County. Let’s not forget that Placer County has ranked in the top five healthiest counties in California for nearly a decade! We need to work together to keep Placer healthy. Please continue to wear your masks, wash your hands and observe physical distancing.

Considering the impact COVID-19 has had on our lives for the past seven months, it’s important that we continue to discuss what steps are being taken to combat the virus, and what we can do to help safely support our local economy. Sometimes however, it seems as though we do not hear about the other good work that is going on, so this week I also want to share information about positive developments here in Placer County. We could all use a little good news!

Libraries to reopen for in-person browsing in phases

I am happy to share that Placer County libraries will begin a phased opening plan for in-person browsing beginning October 6. Library Services Director, Mary George and her staff have developed a phased reopening plan that will allow them to welcome patrons back into the libraries as safely as possible by identifying successful reopening procedures and utilizing those procedures as they reopen additional facilities. Several libraries in District 5 will reopen in the initial phase: Auburn, Kings Beach and Tahoe City locations will be open Tuesday through Friday with varying hours. The Granite Bay Library will also reopen on October 6 and the Rocklin Library will expand its walk-up hours.

The Colfax Library is slated to reopen on November 3, also Tuesday through Friday, and the Foresthill and Rocklin Libraries will likely open December 3. Although it would be wonderful if all of our libraries could open right now, the additional time is needed for staff to ensure sites are configured to allow for physical distancing and to hire the staff needed for safe operations. Unfortunately, the smaller libraries where social distancing is challenging, such as Applegate and Penryn, will remain closed for the foreseeable future to ensure the safety of library patrons and staff. To learn more about visiting your favorite library, please go to the Placer County Library Services Division’s webpage.

Chipper Shredder Program to resume

Many of you have shared your concerns about the absence of the Placer County Resource Conservation District’s Chipper Shredder Program since it was suspended back in April due to COVID-19 related staffing issues. I am happy to report that as of October 1 the program is up and running again. The Chipper Shredder Program has been a vital component of our community for years and considering the amount of destruction caused by wildfires already this year, the return of the program is especially good news. The cost-share fee is $80 per hour, however disabled people and low-income households may be granted a fee waiver. Please visit the Resource Conservation District’s website to learn more about the program and how to sign up.

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or need any assistance with County issues or concerns.

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