El Dorado County Struggles to “Flatten the Curve”

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 25, 2020 / comments

[Cris Alarcon]

The county continues to climb in new cases at a rate of 1.2 per day over the last 5 days.  Since the first case was reported 33 days ago the rate of increase has been 1.27 new cases per day.

The first case was reported on March 20th and the number of cases has steadily climbed to 42 in 33 days.

Testing has also been nearly consistent over the same period at an average of 27 people tested per day for a total test of 1,740 tested that reside in El Dorado County.  That is about 1% of the county’s population.  Tests are strictly limited to those that meet a high-risk group due to limited “Test Kits” that affects all the nation.  That criteria includes those with active Coronavirus symptoms and those that have been in contact with those known to have the virus as well as those that have recently traveled to a set of high-risk areas.

Of those meeting the criteria to be tested a consistent average of 2.5% are confirmed to have the virus active in their bodies.  Of those nearly 90% have recovered.

No deaths have been reported in El Dorado County residents.

Both of the County’s cities have been on a significant limit to activity that allows for close contact for all non-essential needs and medical professionals atribut the slow spread of the virus to the strict limitations on group interaction.  These same “Health” related restrictions have created a very significant reduction in business and governmental revenues.

The “Stay-at-home” order and restrictions on all large group activity has significantly harmed business revenues for many businesses and that in turn has significantly reduced a najir revenue stream for local government “Sales Tax” revenues.

The City of South Lake Tahoe has worked with the State issued restrictions. This has been a huge difficulty for a City that economy is based on Tourism.  The first significant outbreak of the virus started in the Tahoe basin.  Since then the City has been on an increasingly restricted regime some call a “Lock down.”

The City of Placerville has also seen serious damage to its local economy although the restriction might be less intense.  Recently the City authorized the City Manager to send a letter to the Governor requesting a decrease in statewide issued restrictions for activities that are likely to increase the spread of the virus.  Businesses are desperate to increase revenues by loosening the restrictions that have drastically reduced business activity, but many local area medical employees fear that the increase of activity will increase the spread of the virus in the City of Placerville and the greater area around Placerville.  The Governor has yet to respond to the letter from the city of Placerville other than a general statement that he will consider such letters sent to his office from local rural areas.

Although South Lake Tahoe has limited new cases that are still reporting new cases.  The City of Placerville has remained to study with 5 reported cases for the last two weeks.  In asking that the State reduce restrictions on business activity the City asserts that the “Rural” nature of the area equates to lower density of people therefore the requested reduction of tight restrictions are Fact-based in request.

Statistical analysis supports the assertion that the lower population density of the area limits the spread of COVID-19.  The anomaly to the assertion is El Dorado Hills.

El Dorado Hills CSD has a population density of 869 people per square mile.  This is much lower than South Tahoe or Placerville at 2,169 and 1,902 people per square mile, respectively.  Tahoe has reported 13 confirmed cases and Placerville has reported 5 cases, whereas El Dorado Hills has reported 16 cases and is the fastest area of spread of coronavirus..  

This assertion that the reduced density of people reduces the spread of the virus also supports the conclusion that high-density areas such as busy business areas should remain restricted from significant business activity without additional precautions to keep the virus from increased spread from the higher densities caused by greater business activity.  If the City does reduce restrictions and experiences greater viral spread caused by increased business traffic it will be seen as a “lagging indicator” of increased cases reported in the Greater Placerville area.

At this time the City of Placerville has flattened the curve with no new case reported for the last two weeks. The county as a whole has not yet peaked with new cases being reported primarily in El Dorado Hills and also in South Lake Tahoe.