Saturday, 26 November 2022

Opinion

On May 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the entire state could progress to Stage 2 (“Lower risk workplaces”) of California’s COVID-19 Response “Resilience Roadmap.”

This action marked a major step toward people getting out of their homes and back to work. Seeing progress being made toward responsible reopening, I decided to align our local orders directly with the governor’s.

Until further notice, the statewide “stay at home” order remains in effect, meaning local residents continue to be expected to shelter-in-place, except for certain allowable activities. Nonessential travel is not yet permitted.

Recent changes did facilitate three new areas of local opportunity: Lake County waterways are now open without restriction (except for appropriate social distancing); low risk retail businesses can open for phone and online sales with curbside pickup; and each county can attest to their readiness for businesses in later phases of Stage 2 to reopen, and reopen at the rate that best fits their circumstances.

The state’s assignment of industries to the various stages of the roadmap was done in consideration of broad social import and network effects (for example, childcare adds a level of risk of COVID-19 spread, but it must be more available for workers to be able to report as their offices reopen).

However, Stage 2 businesses are generally considered low-risk in terms of social mixing, and those eligible to reopen in later phases of Stage 2 include:

· Destination retail, including shopping malls and swap meets.
· Personal services, limited to: car washes, pet grooming, tanning facilities, and landscape gardening.
· Office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged).
· Dine-in restaurants (not gaming areas or bars).
· Outdoor museums and open gallery places.
· Government offices that were deemed non-essential.
· Some children’s activities and childcare.

Stages 3 (“higher-risk workplaces”) and 4 (“end of stay home order”) will include businesses that encourage more contact and travel.

Stage 2 does not include:

· Hotels and lodging for leisure and tourism.
· Nightclubs, concert venues, festivals, theme parks.
· Religious services and cultural ceremonies.
· Entertainment venues – movies and gaming.
· Personal services (cosmetology, hair salons, etc.).
· Hospitality such as bars and lounges.
· Indoor museums, kids museums, gallery spaces, and libraries.
· Community centers including public pools, playgrounds, picnic areas.

Lake County has begun the process to apply for a “local variance” to the governor’s orders, which would provide the opportunity to accelerate the later phases of Stage 2 reopening. To be eligible, certain public health benchmarks must be met (stable number of cases, no new deaths, capacity to test and protect people if there is a surge in cases). We must also affirm there is a thoughtful plan in place on how to open the businesses.

As Lake County’s Public Health officer, it will ultimately be my responsibility to attest to our readiness to reopen, but the process to get to that point is collaborative, including engagement with local government and healthcare stakeholders.

Because we recently reopened local waterways, including the nationally prominent and regionally popular Clear Lake, we need to ensure there is not a surge in cases in the 10 to 14 days following that reopening. Hopefully, people have been continuing to maintain social distancing, using face coverings, and not traveling – these are going to be the things that keep us safe as we move forward to reopen. If cases start rising, it will slow down the progress we can make in reopening businesses.

The proposal for accelerating reopening in Lake County is being actively developed this week. We plan to present it to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, May 18, and if everything stays stable, we’ll submit it to the state by the end of that week.

The first day of the new openings will most probably be the Tuesday following Memorial Day weekend, May 26. This step will be a partial opening of businesses, with the full opening of Stage 2-approved businesses to occur no sooner than two weeks later, in order to make sure there continues to be no surge in cases.

We are aware that more than 20 counties around the state have already submitted their applications for accelerated reopening, but we live next to two counties that continue to have new cases.

Sonoma County documents between 5 to 15 new cases every day, and both Sonoma and Napa had a COVID-related death this past week.

Travel between our counties for work and shopping is very common, and we need to be particularly careful not to allow the virus to get a firm foothold and start spreading throughout Lake County. The main tools we have to prevent this are: restricting movement, testing, and helping people to isolate when they test positive.

We aim to move forward carefully, in an effort to balance opening for business with protecting the community from widespread infection. When the local variance takes effect, masks will be required in business and offices, for both workers and patrons. As movement increases, and fewer people are staying home, it is almost certain COVID-19 will enter our communities. We will need to institute and maintain protections, to help slow the spread.

Businesses eligible to reopen will self-certify their compliance with social distancing and other protocols. Guidance and self-certification forms are available at http://health.co.lake.ca.us/Coronavirus/Businesses.htm .

Statewide industry-specific guidance is also available here: https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/ .

Business owners are the experts on the services they provide, and we expect they will want to keep the public safe. Eligible businesses in Stage 2 will need to have plans and post the plans at their entry. Masks will need to be a part of the plan.

If there are complaints from the public about businesses not following good, safe practices, inspectors will visit and help make the space safe. If repeated efforts to educate are not successful, fines may result.

We will be watching closely, to make sure public health is not suffering due to these changes. If the number of cases starts to rise, if there are significant outbreaks in vulnerable groups, or if area hospitals start getting overwhelmed, we will be forced to add restrictions back in, or even go completely back to sheltering-in-place. These strategies are successful, as evidenced in other parts of the country and world, and will be reinstituted, if needed.

This is a new chapter for us in the response to this pandemic. We appreciate the high level of cooperation in the county, and we realize this has been a very difficult time. Particularly as we loosen restrictions, it is essential that people:

· Maintain social distancing and keep good hygiene.
· It remains strongly recommended that people wear masks when out.
· Vulnerable populations (over 65 and/or with chronic medical conditions) should continue to stay safe at home.
· We discourage people from crossing county lines, since this is an important way that the virus spreads.

For Lake County-specific Coronavirus information, please continue to visit the Lake County Health Services Department’s website.

The Lake County Coronavirus Response Hub has additional valuable resources.

If you still have questions, send an email request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

You can also call during business hours: 707-263-8174.

We really want to move forward in a safe and thoughtful way, allowing people more social and economic opportunities without risking public health. Thank you for doing your part!

Dr. Gary Pace MD, MPH, is the Public Health officer for Lake County, California.

Walk through our hospitals, and you’ll notice something: silence.

Our hospital corridors, usually bustling with caregivers and patients, have been unusually quiet these past few weeks. Many of the beds in our inpatient units have gone unfilled. The number of patients suffering from heart attacks, strokes and chest pains has appeared to decline. Fewer emergency surgeries are being performed and nonemergent surgeries are being postponed.

While fewer emergencies may sound like cause for celebration, we know that the reality is grim. As much as we’d like to believe it’s because people are not suffering from life-threatening conditions, we know that’s not the case.

Across the communities we serve, loved ones, including the elderly and medically vulnerable, have been delaying or avoiding care out of fear of coming to the hospital during a pandemic. In other cases, our community members feel a sense of duty to avoid the hospital to not overwhelm healthcare resources.

It’s not an isolated issue. The number of hospital visits are dropping around the world – an unusual occurrence at the tail end of flu season.

We’ve seen our community take extraordinary measures amid this pandemic to practice responsible social distancing, “flattening the curve” and keeping our healthcare workers safe. We’re grateful for that, but the measures – meant to prevent an unmanageable surge of COVID-19 patients – have had unintended consequences.

At Adventist Health, the number of people coming into our emergency department has decreased by more than half across our multi-state system.

This is distressing for those who are suffering from otherwise minor conditions that can worsen without immediate medical care. A man in one of our communities, for example, took a bad spill off his bicycle and fractured a bone. He called the hospital to see if it was safe to come in for treatment.

Let me answer his question for everyone who might be asking themselves the same thing during this pandemic: Yes, our hospitals are safe. Emergencies happen, and you should never delay care.

We recognize that some might fear going to the hospital during these uncertain times. But we should never let fear get in the way of receiving needed medical care. If we allow it to, then this pandemic will have indirectly claimed more lives and wreaked more havoc than it should have.

Our community has done its job socially distancing. That has provided us adequate time to prepare for any potential surge of patients, put into place infection prevention measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 within our hospital walls, and most of all, keep our patients and caregivers safe.

Adventist Health Clear Lake wants to continue keeping our community healthy and safe. Part of that is providing safe, high-quality emergency care. Emergency care should never be put off or avoided, especially during a pandemic.

Emergencies happen. Please don’t delay your care.

David Santos is the president at Adventist Health Clear Lake in Clearlake, California.

If you are watching the news, you recognize that the novel coronavirus situation is rapidly changing.

The World Health Organization now says that we are in a “pandemic,” the stock market is dropping quickly, colleges are closing around the state and some sports events are beginning to be cancelled. Yet there are still only about 1000 documented cases in the United States, and a handful of deaths at this moment. Are we overreacting?

In Lake County, we are still at low risk of getting coronavirus. We have not had any people testing positive yet, but we have only been able to do a limited number of tests.

There is no known community spread, but there may be some people with the virus in our county that we haven’t been aware of.

At Public Health, we have been monitoring some returned travelers, and following some sick people who have been tested, but so far there have been no positive cases here.

We did declare a “Local Health Emergency” and the Board of Supervisors ratified it on Tuesday, March 10. This was not done to cause more anxiety, but is meant to allow us to make changes quickly (if needed), to request supplies and staffing (if needed), and to access emergency State and Federal funds (if needed).

Also, the California Department of Public Health came out on March 12 with strong recommendations limiting group gatherings:

– Postponing or canceling non-essential gatherings including 250 people or more;
– Smaller gatherings should be held in venues that allow social distancing (keeping 6 feet distance between people);
– Canceling events of 10 or more people that are in vulnerable groups—senior citizens, immune-compromised.

This is a significant change, which reflects the intention to limit mixing of people, thus preventing the introduction and the spread of the virus.

As seen in Washington state and Italy, once the virus gets a firm foothold and starts spreading, the situation can get to be difficult to manage. It appears that strong attempts to slow or stop this spread by limiting group gatherings and social mixing can be effective.

County agencies, schools, and healthcare providers are in regular communication in order to prepare and adapt to the changing environment. We are also involved in regular communication with the public. Our website is becoming a good resource, and there are some documents translated into Spanish. We are also trying to provide weekly press releases and a social media forum hopefully starting next week.

With no cases currently identified in the county, but with the situation worsening in the larger Bay Area, we are recognizing that we are in a unique situation and that limiting large group gatherings may allow us to prevent the virus from getting a solid foothold here, or at least slow down the process, and thus minimizing impact on the healthcare system.

Our particular concern is our most vulnerable populations – the seniors and people with underlying medical conditions.

Overall, we want to continue to try to walk the line between adequate, reasonable preparation for what may come down the road, without causing unnecessary concern or panic.

We live in a resilient community with reasonable, practical leadership. If we are very lucky, this outbreak may pass by Lake County without significant impact, but we appreciate the diligent efforts by so many of our community agencies and partners to prepare for the possibility that we do begin seeing cases.

Gary Pace MD, MPH, is the Public Health officer for Lake County, California.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – In 1939, when Britain was preparing for World War II, the government created the now-famous slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Seems like good advice right about now, so that’s what we’re doing at Kelseyville Unified School District. We’re just focusing on taking care of our staff and students. Here’s the latest.

Big thanks to our teachers and support staff

Teachers all over Lake County are working hard to connect with students and help them learn, oftentimes while they’re also caring for their own kids at home. I’d like to thank all the teachers and other school district employees who are working remotely with students and their families.

Remote learning isn’t as good as being in the classroom, but it’s the very best we can do under the circumstances.

I’d also like to call attention to the impressive work of our food services, maintenance, and information technology staff.

Since we closed schools in March, Kelseyville Unified Food Service employees have remained at work every day, Monday through Friday, even throughout spring break, to provide as many as 600 meals a day to children who depend on us to feed them.

The maintenance crew and custodians are keeping campuses clean, safe and in good repair; and the IT team has remained responsive and helpful while fielding an enormous number of calls.

Where to get information (and lunch)

Because we are dealing with a situation that changes all the time, it is important to know where to find the latest information. In addition to communicating with students and parents via phone, text, and email, we also post information on our Facebook page and on our website.

For those in the Kelseyville area, be aware that the next on-site schoolwork drop-off and pick-up will be May 4. Visit www.kvusd.org and click on Remote Learning, then Coronavirus Update for the latest.

We continue to serve lunch daily at Kelseyville High School from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for all children and teens under 18 years old. They can also pick up breakfast for the following morning during the KHS lunch service.

After lunch service, we start preparing boxes for delivery. Delivery starts at 2:30 p.m. If anyone needs food delivered, let us know by 2 p.m. by contacting Food Service Director Michelle Borghesani at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The District Office remains open every day and school offices are open daily between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you need to visit us, please remember to wear a mask.

Grades, graduation and other unknowns

We know people are curious about grades, graduation ceremonies, and other school-related questions. Here’s what we know right now.

For grades, we are waiting for the California Department of Education to provide guidance, but I can promise we will not penalize kids for a situation that wasn’t their fault.

We will find a fair and equitable way to give students the credit they deserve for working hard and achieving academically, and we won’t punish those who were dealing with unforeseen challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic that prevented them from focusing on their studies.

Kelseyville High School is sending progress reports with additional information about grading soon.

As for eighth-grade promotion and high school graduation, we must comply with Lake County Public Health orders that do not allow large gatherings, so at this point, we do not plan to hold any ceremonies. However, if things change, we can adjust quickly and host events to celebrate our students.

Same goes for returning to school before the end of the school year, if the shelter-in-place order stands, we’ll continue with remote learning. If things change and we are allowed to re-open schools, we will. Given what we know at this point, I’m not expecting to reopen schools until fall of 2020.

This news hits some students harder than others. I’m sorry that our high school seniors aren’t able to celebrate their final spring at Kelseyville Unified with classmates and friends.

As for returning to school, in late April, Gov. Newsom talked about California schools reopening in July or August. In Kelseyville, we are making plans for whenever students return, coordinating with the California Department of Education and Lake County Public Health to make sure everyone can be as safe as possible.

Resources for parents

If you are home with students who are looking for more to do, we’ve posted resources on our website. Visit www.kvusd.org and click on the Remote Learning menu at the top, then click on Educational Resources.

Another great resource is www.healthychildren.org . A local pediatrician recommended it to me.

She said, “It includes information about how to protect your family from COVID-19, how to talk to your children about it, and how to recognize whether your children need extra support.”

This is a hard time, but it will end. Concentrate on the good things in your life, and we’ll be back together again before you know it.

In the meantime, keep calm and carry on.

Dave McQueen is the superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s role is to ensure people’s constitutional rights while providing for public safety. Almost always, this is a precarious balancing act, weighing various statutes, court decisions, authorities, and the overall benefit to society. As we’ve seen during this COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions to our fundamental freedoms that have previously before been unheard of on the scale that we now see, have become commonplace.

There will likely be years of debate, research, and arguments over the effectiveness of these measures. Some will say that these measures saved countless lives. Some will say that the modeling used to justify these measures was inaccurate and based more on anecdotal than scientific evidence. Some will say that nothing will stop the inevitable spread of this virus and that it’s not nearly as lethal as we’ve been told. Many people wonder if they’ve already had it. We’ve been told that we need to stop this at all costs from getting into our community. We’ve been told that we need to let it permeate our community in a controlled manner. We’ve been told it has a high mortality rate. We’ve been told that the mortality rate isn’t known because of inadequate testing.

This is the first time in over 100 years that this country has dealt with a pandemic with such potential. We will become the authorities and experts as the situation progresses. I certainly don’t have the answers to these questions, and I don’t know that I ever will. However, one thing that can’t be argued is that these restrictions on our movements, our employment, and our ability to conduct our daily lives have resulted in financial devastation to many, and will have long-lasting adverse impacts on this community which will add to the previous years’ disasters. This situation can’t continue and the people I represent won’t allow it to continue indefinitely.

Following Friday's protest in Lakeport, I spoke with one of the attendees. The subject of the sheriff’s office’s enforcement of the shelter in place and various other Public Health officer orders came up. From the start of this event, the sheriff’s office has taken an approach to enforcing these orders with an emphasis on education and voluntary compliance. We have always reserved actual enforcement by citation or arrest as a last resort, and only for those engaged in other criminal activity. We have never arrested or issued a citation to any person simply for violating either the state or local Public Health officer’s order. The few amount of enforcement actions, above simple education and warning, that we have taken were for people engaged in criminal activity beyond simply violating the Public Health orders. Violations of these orders are punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.

Among the things being protested today was the continued closure of Clear Lake. The lake was closed to dissuade people from coming into Lake County from other areas that were experiencing reportedly higher incidents of COVID-19. When this decision was made, we wanted to be sure we either kept COVID-19 out of Lake County. We were successful for longer than the vast majority of the state. As seemed to be inevitable, we detected some positive cases. There was no hospital surge. There were no mass fatalities. As of now, only 7 seven confirmed cases have been identified, and 6 of them are reported to be recovered. Sewer testing seemed to indicate more community spread as positive results were found in 4 of 4 systems that were tested at one point. Those same systems have subsequently been found to be free of COVID-19. I question whether or not the emergency used to justify these actions on our populace still exists.

Since March 19 when this order went into effect, the sheriff’s office has arrested 15 people and issued six citations for violations of the Public Health officer’s orders. That averages out to about one person every other day who has had an actual enforcement action taken against them. This is out of over 700 contacts that we’ve had responding to reports of such violations. These citations issued to and arrests of people for these violations were not for the sole act of violating a Public Health officer order. As stated earlier, they were for people engaged in other criminal activity while violating the order. I am proud of the restraint, discretion, and judgment my staff has displayed while carrying out their duties.

We at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office will continue to take this posture as it is not my desire to punish people with measures that may result in these fines or imprisonment for engaging in otherwise lawful activity. I won’t use this opportunity to make criminals out of people who aren’t. People in Lake County, and in many parts of our country, are already suffering due to the loss of loved ones, loss of income, and loss of many of their freedoms.

For those who would say that I’m countermanding the Public Health officer’s orders, I’m not. His orders remain in effect and lawful unless proven otherwise by some higher authority. In fact, I encourage people to abide by them as many of them do serve to keep you, and those around you safe and healthy. The law surrounding enforcement of these laws grants sheriffs discretion. I have used that discretion, and will continue to use that discretion, in a manner that does not impose additional damage to those already damaged.

The lake remains closed to motorized vessels in accordance with the Public Health officer’s orders. I encourage people to respect that order. The quagga mussel sticker program remains in effect and we will strictly enforce that as has been our practice.

I encourage people to socially distance. I encourage them to wear masks when entering businesses. I encourage people to cover their cough. I encourage people to wash their hands. I encourage people to limit their travel to slow the spread of this disease. I won’t make them criminals for choosing not to.

This shut down of society can’t continue indefinitely. It’s time to evaluate our measures and make adjustments. Are we going to continue with the closure of the lake to keep people from out of Lake County away and while doing so keep our own residents from enjoying the wonderful opportunities it has to offer? If so, many people will stop listening and simply violate the order. Others will choose to visit waterways that are nearby and open such as the Sacramento Delta, the Sacramento River, Lake Shasta, and any other waterway that is open. Many have already done so.

There were good reasons for doing this, but it’s time to ask ourselves if it’s necessary to continue. We may already be beyond the point of irreparable harm to our community. If we’re not already, every day we continue brings us closer.

Brian Martin is the sheriff of Lake County, California.

Kelseyville Unified School District Superintendent Dave McQueen. Courtesy photo.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – New information about COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, comes out every day.

Although there have been no cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Lake County to date, I think it’s reasonable to expect that the illness will eventually arrive.

As our community braces for COVID-19, here are my thoughts.

Coordinating with Public Health

At Kelseyville Unified School District, we’ve been sending regular notices to parents about what we know about the virus and tips to keep students safe.

At Kelseyville Unified facilities, we are doing extra cleaning and encouraging students to use good hygiene. We are also working closely with the Lake County Office of Education and taking our lead from Lake County Public Health.

Prepare, but don’t panic

It’s important to be careful – to wash our hands, stay home if we’re sick. But there’s no reason to panic. For tips on how to prepare, visit www.ready.gov/pandemic .

Children appear at lower risk

Early data show that children are at lower risk of serious complications from COVID-19 as compared to adults, especially adults who are immunocompromised or elderly. However, we all need to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

California declares emergency to prepare for outbreak

Last week, the state of California declared a state of emergency to prepare for a widespread outbreak. It is a proactive move that allows disaster funding to be more readily available to government agencies and paves the way for local, state, and federal agencies to coordinate their efforts. Lake County is likely to benefit from this.

How to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Finally, as a reminder, here’s the Centers for Disease Control’s list of ways to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

3. Stay home when you are sick (fever, cough, gastrointestinal symptoms).

4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

6. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

7. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

8. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

At Kelseyville Unified, we’re keeping parents up to date with emails and posting information on our Facebook page and website.

If you’d like to keep current on Kelseyville Unified activities regarding COVID-19, visit www.kvusd.org and click on the box that says “COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates.”

Dave McQueen is the superintendent of Kelseyville Unified School District.

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