Monday, 06 February 2023

Opinion

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.

In July I retired from the state of California, Cal Fire, serving 23 years in the International Union of Operating Engineers. Prior to that I worked 13 years in the private sector and was previously elected as a school board director.

I am a small business owner and understand what small business owners face within our present bureaucratic climate. My career has been in the design, construction, management, and operation of water and sanitation facilities. I have mentored others, including my own children, in obtaining their water operator license. In addition, I serve as a director on a four-county water association.

I serve as a director on a rodeo board and currently, I am a census field supervisor for the U.S. Census managing local personnel to ensure every home is counted in the 2020 Census.

My family has lived in Lake County for over a decade and my wife and I purchased our home in Lakeport last year. Previously we lived on several large ranches in a neighboring county.

I am an avid hunter, fisherman, horseman and volunteer with 4-H and FFA programs. Local volunteerism also has me involved with Adopt-a-Highway and Project Tango Mike helping deployed military service personnel.

My Cal Fire employment had me working in Modoc and Mendocino counties and I am proud to have supported firefighting operations throughout Northern California including those fires in Lake County.

Wildfires and other natural disasters are going to happen – I will promote Cal Fire and local agencies efforts to inspect communities and areas at risk and deploy vegetation management programs to reduce the impacts of future wildland fires.

I will promote and advocate for increased livestock use to reduce fire fuel loads. I will promote that all residents in hazard fire zones understand their responsibility to maintain their defensible space.

Cal Fire is in the process of deploying more fuels/brush reduction crews with the focus of increased defensible space around communities; I will actively work collaboratively with Cal Fire to ensure that the greatest amount of resources are deployed in Lake County.

I will promote strong family values. I take my oath of office very seriously and will absolutely abide by our Constitution!

We cannot be prosperous by growing government that inhibits economic growth. Businesses need to thrive and I will promote less government burden in order to create more private-sector jobs, so that we can support the tax base needed to maintain a healthy and appropriate workforce.

Poverty will always exist, but there is much we can do to help people rise out of it. It’s called opportunity … opportunity through education, mentorships, and service.

Service comes in two forms … Serving those in need to an appropriate level without making them dependent on welfare, and supporting programs that allow people to learn how to serve others as part of their education and personal growth. People become employable through education and service.

I am running to be your supervisor because local and state governments are extremely challenged in their mission and need new leadership.

Lake County needs stronger leadership to promote both agriculture and tourism/recreation and I have the skills and experience to get infrastructure projects done, and done right. All efforts should be for the benefit of the people and not the government and welfare programs.

Let’s get the Lake County government departments open on Fridays to serve the community and citizens! Let’s get all the Board of Supervisors’ support behind the fire chiefs of our special fire districts and collaboratively come up with solutions on how to improve fire protection and reduce insurance rates.

I am going to work hard to propose, and encourage the Board of Supervisors to make updating the general plan and area plans one of its highest priorities.

To make Lake County strong economically, socially and physically I will work with our already determined Board of Supervisors to ensure our general plan provides a strong foundation for growth and prosperity that serves our citizens well and supports economic growth now and into the future.

Please vote for Chris Almind on March 3, 2020.

Chris Almind of Lakeport, California, is a candidate for the District 4 seat on the Lake County Board of Supervisors.

Cate Kortzeborn, Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. Courtesy photo.

Medicare helps pay for a wide variety of medical services and goods in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare settings. But it doesn’t cover everything, and it’s useful to know what is and isn’t covered.

Services and goods are covered either under Medicare Part A or Part B. If you have both Part A and Part B, you can get many Medicare‑covered services whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare health plan, such as Medicare Advantage.

Part A is Hospital Insurance and it helps pay for:

* Inpatient care in hospitals;
* Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (but not custodial or long‑term care);
* Hospice care;
* Home health care;
* Inpatient care in a religious nonmedical health care institution.

Part B (Medical Insurance) helps cover medically necessary doctors’ services, outpatient care, home health services, durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers, and other medical services.

Part B also covers many preventive-care services, such as vaccinations and cancer screenings.

You can find out if you have Parts A and B by looking at your Medicare card. If you have Original Medicare, you’ll use this card to get your Medicare-covered services. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, in most cases you must use the card from the plan to get your Medicare-covered services.

Under Original Medicare, if the yearly Part B deductible ($198 in 2020) applies, you must pay all costs (up to the Medicare-approved amount) until you meet the Part B deductible before Medicare begins to pay its share.

After your deductible is met, you typically pay 20% of the Medicare‑approved amount of the service, if the doctor or other healthcare provider accepts assignment. (“Accepting assignment” means that a doctor or other provider agrees to be paid directly by Medicare, to accept the Medicare payment amount for the service, and not to bill you for more than the Medicare deductible and coinsurance.)

There’s no yearly limit on what you pay out-of-pocket under Original Medicare.

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO) or have other insurance, your costs may be different. Contact your plan or benefits administrator directly to find out about the costs.

Under Part B, Medicare pays for many preventive services that can detect health problems early when they’re easier to treat. You pay nothing for most covered preventive services if you get the services from a doctor or other qualified provider who accepts assignment.

However, for some preventive services, you may have to pay a deductible, coinsurance, or both.

Medicare doesn’t cover everything, of course. If you need certain services that aren’t covered under Part A or Part B, you’ll have to pay for them yourself unless:

* You have other insurance (including Medicaid) to cover the costs;
* You’re in a Medicare Advantage plan that covers these services.

Some of the services and goods that Medicare Parts A and B don’t cover are:

* Most dental care;
* Eye exams related to prescribing glasses;
* Dentures;
* Cosmetic surgery;
* Massage therapy;
* Routine physical exams;
* Long-term care;
* Concierge care (also called concierge medicine, retainer-based medicine, and boutique medicine);
* Hearing aids and exams for fitting them.

Cate Kortzeborn is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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.

The Governing Board of the Yuba Community College District has two distinct duties.

Clearly, our first duty – maintaining the high quality of education received by the over thirteen thousand students who attend classes at one of our six campuses – must never waiver. But we have another important duty as well – to be vigilant in protecting local taxpayers.

We are extraordinarily proud of the diligence and care taken by our fellow trustees in reducing the burden to our taxpayers.

Consider this: Within the last five years, the Yuba Community College District’s Board of Trustees has approved refinancings of voter-approved general obligation bonds resulting in taxpayer savings of over $100 million. These refinancings cut taxpayers’ future school bond property tax payments by 40 percent.

Let’s stop and think about this. Imagine you were able to cut the cost of your own home mortgage or monthly rent by nearly half. For most of us, this would be an incredible financial windfall! Yet this is exactly what the Yuba CCD Board of Trustees achieved without fanfare or publicity.

But their actions were certainly applauded by members of our community who monitor the impact of the district’s financings on taxpayers.

Pat Miller, president of the Sutter County Taxpayers Association, said the refinancing of the district’s bonds was “certainly a big tax savings for property owners in the eight counties of the Yuba College district,” adding that the Taxpayers Association was “extremely pleased” with the refinancing. (Territorial Dispatch, Feb. 21, 2017)

This same commitment to fiscal conservatism is what led the Yuba CCD Board to place Measure C on the March 2020 ballot.

Our local community college campuses are among our most valuable public assets. Measure C will provide the district with a source of low-interest funding to preserve and protect these public institutions for decades to come and allow our local colleges to expand their job training and technical education programs.

Our colleagues on the Yuba CCD Board of Trustees deserve praise and thanks for their commitment to building Yuba CCD into one of the state’s top community colleges while making sure that taxpayers get the best deal possible.

As we enter the next decade, this conservative stewardship will allow Yuba CCD to continue to play a significant role in the overall economic health of our communities and neighborhoods.

Richard Teagarden is president and Michael Pasquale is the trustee representing Area 4 on the Yuba Community College District Board of Trustees. The district serves several Northern California counties, including Lake.

Time and time again, President Trump has shown he will not make the hard choices or put in the long hours that result in progress for the American people.

Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was no different.

He did not even mention gun violence prevention and his party continues to stonewall H.R. 8 in the Senate, a bill that passed the House with bipartisan support and would help save lives right away.

He also ignored the threat of climate change, offering nothing to help us tackle this issue.

While I was glad to hear the president express some willingness to work in a bipartisan way on improving access to quality affordable health care and improving our nation’s infrastructure, the devil is in the details.

And we have already seen that this president and his administration are more focused on tearing down the Affordable Care Act and undoing the positive progress we have made under that law.

The administration has worked at every turn to take away protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Notwithstanding the president’s efforts to do away with these vital pre-existing conditions protections, I will continue my fight to improve the lives of people in our district and across our nation.

From defending the Affordable Care Act and its lifesaving protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, to drafting and passing legislation to modernize our infrastructure, and to ensuring we optimize our tax code to prioritize renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, I will not stop in my work to help our community and our county move forward.

Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties. He is a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means where he chairs the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. Rep. Thompson is Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. He is also co-chair of the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus and a member of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition.

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