By Melissa Hodous
Truckee is protected by the current county coronavirus monitoring. The California COVID Data Map shows 69 cases in Nevada County over the past 14 days with a case per 100K of 69.9, well under the 100 threshold that puts counties on the watch list and can lead to further restrictions.
However, this is very misleading.
On Nevada County’s coronavirus dashboard, in the breakdown of those 69 cases, 39 were in Eastern County (Truckee) and 30 in Western County. The problem is that Truckee represents 16.5% of the county population but 56.5% of the new cases!
So what would Truckee’s cases per 100K be? Based on the 2019 population of 16,735, Truckee is at 221.1. That’s above the 100 threshold and higher than 14 of the counties on California’s monitoring lists with restrictions like no indoor food or bar service.
After discussing my concerns with our town council it has been noted that our population has increased due to people turning their second homes into a primary residence. Even if we saw a 50% increase in population, our new case per 100K would still be 147.4 — higher than eight counties on the list.
Add to this that it was reported that 77,000 visitors were expected in advance of 4th of July in Tahoe, packing the beaches and town, which will surely cause case counts to grow.
Then consider that most of the California population lives where restrictions have been put back in place and are looking for a summer vacation. With El Dorado and Placer counties expected to be added to the restrictions list in the next week, that leaves Truckee as one of the few vacation spots in the state still open. Nevada County looks like a safe place to visit, so more people come to Truckee restaurants, beaches, and bars.
El Dorado County, which includes South Lake Tahoe, is addressing the issue that their eastern county areas are being disproportionately affected. The Sacramento Bee in the July 7 article, Alarming COVID-19 Surge in Tahoe Linked to Tourists; El Dorado County Calls Emergency Meeting, reported that the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the virus surge in the Tahoe region. Why isn’t Nevada County or the Truckee Town Council addressing this issue in Truckee?
I love this town and want to see it thrive. I want to see our children back in school, our businesses open and flourishing, and our mountains full of hikers, bikers, and skiers. For this to happen we must get this surge under control and engage the entire community around wearing masks. Until the town is informed of the extent of our problem, the urgency to take action will not emerge.
~ Melissa Hodous is not a public health professional, but a concerned resident and lover of all things Truckee. She enjoys exploring lakes in the Sierras along with her husband, daughters who attend Truckee High School and Forest Charter School, and her two dogs.