Monday, April 12, 2021


Tracking the Spread: A lookback at the Coronavirus lockdown

April 1, 2020

An unprecedented effort to flatten the epidemic curve of a novel coronavirus in two weeks turned into a controversial lockdown that has now lasted for more than one year, after Colusa County joined the State of California in extending a stay-at-home order through the month of April. At the time, Public Health officials announced that cases of COVID-19 would “peak” in mid-April and that “flattening the curve” through temporary aggressive actions were necessary to beat back transmission and prevent health care systems from being overburdened. The controversial “order” by Colusa County Public Health asked the public to stay home unless performing essential activities or exercising outdoors.

The Pioneer Review reported the Colusa County Public Health Department had confirmed the county’s first case of COVID-19, after a 50-year-old Colusa woman with a compromised immune system became ill and tested positive for a novel coronavirus called SARS-COV-2 (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which causes complications known as COVID-19 disease. The news came on the heels of an announcement that Williams, Maxwell, Colusa, Princeton, and Pierce school districts had closed their doors…for two weeks, in response to a worldwide pandemic. Rebecca Olivares Leon, who was undergoing treatment for cancer, reached out to this newspaper to confirm she was the first local resident to become ill from the virus. Leon wanted to let people know that she and her family were in isolation and that she was recovering, and to thank those who were leaving food and supplies at their door and providing other means of support.

Colusa County officials announced that they would implement business continuity practices to ensure continued operation and availability to serve the community. Most county departments, with few limited exceptions, remained open during normal business hours to provide services to the public. County officials, however, encouraged the public to utilize email, telephone, and online services where possible.

Colusa County Public Health issued directives that residents follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, which – at that time – were to wash hands frequently and for 20 seconds using soap and water; avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; cover cough or sneeze with sleeve or tissue and immediately wash hands; avoid shaking hands, avoid contact with anyone who is sick; stay home if sick; and consult a doctor if serious symptoms of respiratory illness. The purpose of the restrictions was to prevent hospitals from becoming overrun.

Public Officials and community members began using the term “social distancing” when recommending people keep a physical space of at least 6 feet between them and others to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The term was also applied to other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as decreasing frequency and/or opportunities for human contact, including the cancellation of public events.

The Board of Supervisors, the city councils of Williams and Colusa, and other public agencies subject to open meeting laws began conducting their meetings via telephone or online video conferencing, in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order loosening Brown Act requirements that ensure the public’s right to access public meetings. While the Board of Supervisors allowed limited attendance in meetings if 6-ft distancing recommendations could be kept, some public agencies locked their doors. One agency (Colusa City Council) physically removed two members of the public who attempted to attend in person. A Sutter County Superior Court judge would later place a permanent injunction against Newsom that prevents him from changing existing state laws, even during a pandemic.

April 8, 2020

The Pioneer Review reported that exactly 65 years after the first “drive-in” Easter Sunday Church Service was conducted, local ministers were planning to revive the practice so people could worship on the most important day on the Christian calendar. At the time, there were three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colusa County, when a positive test came back on April 3 and again on another individual on April 6.

Just weeks after a worldwide pandemic was declared by the Centers for Disease Control, Colusa County suffered extreme social and economic disruption with school and business closures. All Colusa County school districts announced that schools that were supposed to be closed for two weeks would now be closed for the remainder of the school year. Events and meetings were canceled or postponed, and all “non-essential” businesses, such as bars, restaurants, gyms, and hair salons, were ordered to close their doors to customers. Fear of widespread supply shortages resulted in panic buying, which led to even greater local shortages of toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and certain food.

Officials from the City of Williams and City of Colusa announced the closure of public offices, including police departments, to avoid having to have direct contact with the public.

After looking forward to the seasonal opening of East Park Reservoir, Colusa County Public Works announced the closure of the park to campers and day picnickers through the end of April. Public Works Director Michael Azevedo said the decision to temporarily close the park was made in an abundance of caution over the spread of Covid-19. Although state shelter-in-place orders were in force, outdoor exercise was allowed and encouraged for people to remain healthy.

The California Department of Education provided additional funding for the Colusa County Office of Education and five school districts to implement “distant learning,” in which students would receive their education online. The state guidelines, released April 1, allowed each individual school district to decide how to address grading and graduation requirements. Additionally, the university systems announced a willingness to accept credit/no credit grades in lieu of letter grades for all courses, including A-G courses for all students.

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colusa County officials warned the public that conditions and recommendations about COVID-19 could change rapidly… And they did!

April 15, 2020

Pioneer Review announced that Colusa County was CLOSED until further notice and that movement amid COVID-19 was now illegal. Colusa County Public Health officials expanded the state’s March 20 stay-at-home order by ordering people to remain at their place of residence or face a fine, imprisonment or both. The order went into effect at 11:59 PM on April 10 and was to be in effect until May 8, essentially shutting down all Easter-related activities. The County, at the time, had three active cases of COVID-19, although no one was hospitalized. Colusa County also ordered all businesses, including those deemed “essential,” to scale down operations and to cease selling products that could be considered “non-essential.” The order prohibited travel of any kind, including walking and bicycling, except to perform essential work or to purchase medicine or food, and prohibited any gathering of “any number” people.

Colusa County followed the two cities by closing their buildings to the public and offering direct services over the phone, online, or by appointment.

Colusa County food assistance programs ramped up to provide food for those in need, particularly food for those who lost their jobs after being declared “non-essential.” School lunch and breakfast programs, commodity distributions, food banks, and church pantries stepped up in a big way, officials said. Volunteers also stepped up to help deliver food to the doorsteps of senior citizens who were the most vulnerable to complications from the coronavirus.

Despite mounting pressure from the public (through social media) to know who in the community had COVID-19, Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly said Colusa County would abide by federal privacy laws and not disclose any personal information.

April 22, 2020

In response to stay-at-home orders issued by the State, the Judicial Council, the policymaking body for the courts, approved 11 new temporary rules, among them a new “get out of jail free” rule that set bail at $0 for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies.

State court officials said the new rule was intended to reduce jail populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Judicial Council also extended the statute of limitation governing civil actions and allowed defendants to appear in court using online technology.

Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson announced that court trials scheduled for May, June, and “most” of July would be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court said the “social distancing” guidelines that were in place would make it extremely difficult to seat a jury, given the size of the courtrooms.

April 29, 2020

A group of North state leaders, including 14 mayors, sent a joint letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to ease restrictions of a statewide stay-at-home order so six counties could begin a soft reopening of the economy. The letter was drafted by Assemblyman James Gallagher and Sen. Jim Nielsen, and supported by the Boards of Supervisors of Colusa, Sutter, Butte, Tehama, and Yuba counties. At the time, Butte County had a 125-bed field hospital ready in the event of a COVID-19 “surge” and Yuba City had 350 beds, which were also available to Colusa County residents. Colusa County still had three positive cases of coronavirus, 39 negative tests, and no hospitalizations, and remained on the expanded stay-at-home order.

May 6, 2020

Colusa County lifted its ban on drive-thru church services, following the State’s response to a First Amendment lawsuit filed in federal court on April 13, the day after the Christian celebration of Easter. The Center of American Liberty sued the state and many county officials on the grounds that the State’s stay-at-home order was arbitrary and discriminatory – and criminalized the free practice of religion. Newsom responded to the lawsuit by deciding that drive-thru churches were appropriate forms of church worship and should be exempted from stay-in-place orders as an essential service. Following the Governor’s response, the Colusa County Ministerial Association asked Colusa County to also exempt churches from its expanded shelter-in-place order ahead of the May 8 expiration that banned all travel except to purchase food or medicine.

The State of Emergency Services Association gave guidelines for firefighters in Colusa County to limit possible viral exposure. Per the EMSA recommendations, firefighter safety began with the use of PPE and dispatchers determining if the emergency involved anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

Government officials from the County of Colusa and the cities of Williams and Colusa announced they would move to reopen the economy upon the expiration of the expanded shelter-in-place order on May 8. In a news brief sent to the Pioneer Review, officials said they would not renew the expanded order although the public and businesses were reminded that state orders were still in place. Officials from the three government agencies met virtually and determined with just three positive cases of COVID-19, a collaborative strategy and framework for reopening was needed.

May 13, 2020

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors adopted the state’s phased-in plan to reopen the economy over the next three or four weeks, providing there was no surge of COVID-19 in the community. The board reluctantly agreed to conform to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines after the state threatened to withhold all future disaster relief funding from the Northern California counties that moved too quickly to reopen. In addition to threatening counties with lost funding, the governor warned that dental offices, hair salons, and bars could lose their state licenses if they went against his guidelines.

May 20, 2020

After the Colusa County Board of Supervisors reluctantly adopted the recommended phased-in reopening plan, they decided the state’s “one-size-fits-all” approach would have devastating impacts on the local economy. The board voted 5-0 to send a letter to Gov.

Gavin Newsom asking that Colusa County be allowed to move into “Phase 3” because the lockdown was creating a far bigger public health and safety crisis. The board’s process, however, was hijacked by Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly, County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler, and Board Chair Denise Carter, who decided the county should not risk the $2 million in anticipated COVID-19 relieve funding if the county did not toe the governor’s line.” Tyler said the three had spoken about the Board’s earlier direction and decided to fashion the letter not to ask for permission to move to Phase 3, but just permission for some businesses to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3.

May 27, 2020

Colusa County completed 236 tests for COVID-19 with 231 negatives and five positive tests to date. Officials confirm that the number of tests does not necessarily equal “people,” as certain individuals may be testing multiple times depending on certain circumstances and occupations.

U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, demanded Gov. Gavin Newsom stop holding $15.3 billion in federal funds intended for COVID-19 relief hostage to get Colusa and other Northern California counties to comply with strict and possibly unnecessary lockdown orders. After more than two months into widespread lockdowns, health officials announced that most people who contract coronavirus will recover without complications.

June 3, 2020

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors decided enough was enough. In response to the state’s continued lockdown, the board voted 5-0 to take no further action that violated the rights of the people under the U.S. Constitution and asked all local law enforcement to stand down. Supervisor Gary Evans, who made the motion, said people should go about their business as they see fit. Evans quoted the 14th Amendment that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Despite orders from state public health and education officials to hold only virtual or drive-in graduation ceremonies, the five school districts in Colusa County held limited in-person commencement exercises for the seniors who had been in distance learning since March.

June 10, 2020

Colusa County Public Health announced a total number of 413 COVID-19 tests had been administered, with seven coming back positive and 406 coming back negative.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors announced that county staff had hired a communication consultant to assist the county with a government-controlled communication plan. The consultant was contracted in April for $10,000 to put a “positive spin” on the information given to the public related to government programs and COVID-19.

June 24, 2020

The Colusa City Council adopted a proclamation joining the Board of Supervisors in upholding the Constitutional Rights of Colusa citizens during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Colusa Mayor Josh Hill also signed onto a letter to the state asking the governor not to lose sight of the other threats to public health and safety because of the extended lockdown. The flag-waving gesture, however, was mostly for show. The city continued to lock the doors of City Hall and barred its citizens from attending public meetings for the remainder of the calendar year.

It took less than a week after the Board of Supervisors voted to support the Constitutional rights of its citizens that Gov. Gavin Newsom again threatened to withhold funding if the county did not comply with state COVID-19 restrictions. In a letter to Colusa County officials from Mark S. Ghilarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services, the state accused the county of disregarding the parameters for protecting the health of the public and for “operating in a manner inconsistent with the established protocols.” The Colusa County Board of Supervisors responded in a letter that Ghilarducci’s accusations were not accurate, and the state’s concern was misplaced. The county had eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time with no hospitalizations.

July 1, 2020

As coronavirus testing ramped up in Colusa County, so did the number of positive cases. Public Health announced a total of 46 confirmed cases out of 897 tests, with contract tracing indicating that the cause of the spread was largely unknown. Of the 38 new confirmed cases, one person was hospitalized.

July 8, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom launched his massive “Wear a Mask” public awareness campaign, funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation (Facebook). Colusa County Public Health announced a total of 83 positive cases, of which one person was hospitalized. California was experiencing an average of 7,900 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

Colusa County Superior Court announced continued limited court operations until the end of July, but announced one trial would go forward on July 29. Most businesses in Colusa County were open with limitations and restrictions.

July 15, 2020

Citizens try to find some normalcy by attending allowable outdoor events, such as the Colusa County Farmers’ Market. Outdoor exercise, such as walking and biking, also picked up. At the same time, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 30 counties on the “watch list” to go back into lockdown by closing offices, churches, restaurants, bars, and gyms without an “end date” announced. At the height of Black Lives Matters, all outdoor gatherings were banned by the state except for protests.

July 22, 2020

Colusa County Public Health announced a coronavirus outbreak at the Valley West Care Facility among the most vulnerable people (elderly) for complications from COVID-19. A total of 16 patients and 14 staff tested positive for the virus.

July 29, 2020

Local Public Health officials announced that two Colusa County residents have died from complications of COVID-19. A total of 2,056 tests had been administered to date, with 292 positive and four people hospitalized.

Aug. 5, 2020

The first post coronavirus trial in Colusa County hit a viral snag after a juror came down with symptoms of COVID-19.

Preparations for a new school year with in-person education also hit a snag after the California Teachers Union, one of the most powerful unions in the U.S., urged teachers to block school waivers. While many local teachers wanted to return to their classrooms, the union’s position was that it was unsafe for its members to teach “face-to-face,” despite differing opinions by the Centers for Disease Control.

Aug. 12, 2020

Five months into the coronavirus pandemic and six weeks after the State of California made face coverings mandatory, Colusa County followed suit. The new Public Health order went into effect the first week of August in response to contract tracing COVID-19 to social gatherings in which people from one household were traveling to meet with people in other households. The mask order required no formal action by the Board of Supervisors, and not all were in agreement. Supervisor Gary Evans said the order was hollow and was an exercise in “social engineering.” Supervisor Merced Corona said that if masks help prevent the spread of the virus, then wearing them was just an inconvenient obligation. Colusa County had 396 total positive cases to date, five deaths, and two hospitalized.

Aug. 19, 2020

Local officials with help from the local Chamber of Commerce made masks and sanitizer available to all businesses in Colusa County. To keep coronavirus from sweeping through government operations, more public employees could “work from home.”

Aug. 26, 2020

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to infuse the local economy with $1 million from their share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, signed into law by Pres. Donald J. Trump. The money would be awarded in the form of small grants to local small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The county expected to spend another $1 million for technology upgrades, additional personnel costs, contact tracing, and expanded services such as the senior nutrition program.

Sept. 2, 2020

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors and Board of Education, on behalf of the five local school districts with 4,800 students, pleaded with Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen schools to in-person instruction. In a letter to the governor and Acting California Public Health Officer, Dr. Erica Pan, Colusa County Chief Administrative Officer, Wendy Tyler, and Superintendent of Schools, Michael West, said the metric used to place small jurisdictions on the “watch list” did not make sense.

Dr. Seema Jain, director of the Science Branch for COVID-19 Response, agreed with that analysis because Colusa County’s positivity rate included some of the same people testing positive multiple times before the virus ran its course.

Colusa County Public Health announced that a sixth Colusa County resident had died from complications of COVID-19, a total of 456 people had recovered from the disease, 19 cases were in isolation and no one was hospitalized. A total of 4,045 tests had come back negative as of Sept. 1, 2020, six months into the state’s lockdown.

Colusa, Williams, Pierce, Maxwell, and Princeton students in “distance learning” were reported to be facing many challenges, including limited or unreliable internet connectivity, which made learning difficult.

As schools worked to provide hotspots, students were forced to find the internet wherever they could if they have no connection at home. Students in Princeton, for example, utilized outdoor tables and parking lots at the school to make a connection. Students also started school, sitting at the tables in the park, to connect to the Library’s wi-fi. In Williams, high school students sat in cars in the Starbucks parking lot trying to find access.

Sept. 9, 2020

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors blasted Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new system to track COVID-19 cases by county, which they say hamstrings efforts to ever open local businesses and schools. Newsom trotted out his new “Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which changed the way the state monitors virus activity in California’s 58 counties. The Blueprint replaced the previous “county monitoring list,” with a four-tiered, color-coded system that tracks counties by the number of Covid-19 cases recorded each day and the percentage of positive cases out of the total number of tests administered, both averaged over seven days. The Board of Supervisors, in a letter to the state, objected to the new monitoring system because the Blueprint does not reflect the “realities of rural communities and economies,” and makes it nearly impossible for Colusa County to move forward to open restaurants, bars, gyms, and high schools, despite that Colusa has extremely low COVID-19 cases.

Sept. 16, 2020

Maxwell and Princeton elementary school students returned to limited in-person instruction. The schools continued to offer distance learning to students who did not wish to return to campus.

Sept. 23, 2020

Local government agencies decided that to reduce physical interaction between individuals in the era of Covid-19, they had better invest some of their CARES Act funding into new technology. The cities of Colusa and Williams allocated money for new phones, audio/video equipment and other technology to facilitate online communications between staff, elected officials, and members of the public.
Colusa County announced that 500 residents have recovered from COVID-19. There were no hospitalizations, although 43 people were in quarantine and 16 active cases were in isolation.

Sept. 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic sent 6 million California students to their homes for their education, without setting any webcam policy as to how teachers and students maintain respectable face-to-face interaction when they can’t be in the same location. Colusa Unified School District decided to address online etiquette after a student was told by a teacher to reposition his camera because of a “Trump 2020” flag hanging in his bedroom.

Oct. 7, 2020

It no longer mattered how many people in California have COVID-19 but who has the disease. The state’s rollout of a new health equity measure required California counties to develop a plan to bring down coronavirus infection in disadvantaged communities, where black and Hispanic populations were reported to be disproportionately hit the hardest by the pandemic. Colusa County, at the time, had two active cases of coronavirus and no hospitalizations. A total of 5,695 tests had been administered, with 539 total positive tests.

Oct. 14, 2020

While Colusa County officials said it was unfair to measure COVID-19 cases in small counties the same way cases were measured in counties like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Colusa County, seven months after the lockdown, did start to inch up toward reopening. Under the state’s four-tier blueprint, Colusa County, in mid-October moved from the purple or “widespread” tier into a less restrictive red “substantial” tier. Colusa County was one of only eight counties, including neighboring Butte, Lake, and Sutter counties to achieve the red status. There were seven Northern California counties in Yellow or “minimal.” Colusa County had, at the time, three active cases of COVID-19 in isolation.

While Gov. Gavin Newsome’s threat to withhold federal CARES Act funds to counties that did not comply with his state health orders did not “pan out,” the governor continued to keep his boot on the neck of unruly counties by threatening to withhold State Realignment funding, Colusa County officials said. County officials said to keep COVID-19 cases low, people needed to stay at home if they were exhibiting symptoms, which for most people, were like a common cold or flu.

Elementary Schools in Colusa Unified and Pierce school districts applied for waivers to reopen in-person instruction to students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The two districts had been working since August to reach an agreement with the unions that represent the teachers and classified staff, which was required to reopen schools.

Oct. 2, 2020

Maxwell Unified School District reached a tentative agreement with the unions for junior high and high school students to return to a hybrid form of instruction that combined distance learning with some in-person instruction. All local school districts could return to school under the state’s new colored tier system if the county measured a positivity rate of fewer than 35 cases per week and the teachers agreed. Also, once open, the school would be allowed to stay open, even if Colusa County returned to the “purple” or most restrictive tier.

Oct. 28, 2020

Active cases of COVID-19 in Colusa County increased from three cases to four cases, with no one hospitalized. The deaths associated with the coronavirus pandemic still stood at six elderly residents in skilled nursing home facilities. Colusa County had tested a total of 6,423, with 5,870 negative results. A total of 553 positive cases were reported to date, with 543 recovered. There were 10 people in quarantine.

Nov. 4, 2020

After seven months in lockdown, Williams Unified started taking a small step toward reopening schools. After a 4-hour workshop on a “safe” reopening plan, teachers in grades Kindergarten through third grade made a tentative agreement to return to some form of in-person instruction, despite resistance from the unions. A California Teachers Union representative urged the school board to accommodate teachers who wanted to work from home for the remainder of the school year. Parents urged the district to accommodate students who wanted or needed face-to-face interaction with their teachers to thrive.

Colusa County Public Health officials announced that a surge in COVID-19 cases over the weekend could not be traced to a single event, business, or gathering of people. COVID-19 positive cases jumped from four cases to 17, with one individual hospitalized. There were another 23 in quarantine. Health officials said the increase was likely the result of the “increased movement” of people. The county was officially still in the “red” tier, but officials expected the increase to set the county back to a more restrictive tier.

A Sutter County Judge sided with Republican lawmakers in their abuse of power lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom. The judge ruled that the governor does not have the power or authority to assume the Legislature’s role of creating policy or enactments. The ruling would have no effect on the November election, which was the basis of the lawsuit because the Legislature later took action on Newsom’s order.

Nov. 11, 2020

Eight months into a Coronavirus lockdown, the cases of COVID-19 inched up to 23 active cases, although no one was hospitalized. A total of 562 people had recovered from the virus, and the death count remained at six. A total of 6,510 tests had been administered in Colusa County since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Nov. 18, 2020

After just a few weeks in the “red” tier, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Colusa back into the most restrictive “purple” tier. At the same time, the Governor changed the goalpost once again, ordering counties back into restrictions after one week instead of two weeks. He also made changes that would require counties to move back multiple tiers if cases increased while the counties were in less restrictive tiers on his “blueprint for a safe reopening of the economy.”

The state also beefed up its guidance on face covering, requiring the public to wear a mask outside the home, unless alone in their car or office. County officials said contract tracing shows spread is largely among “essential” workers who work outside the home, contract the virus, and then spread it to their own families. Colusa County had 27 total cases in isolation, with two people hospitalized, and 30 people in quarantine.

Colusa County officials said they have documented serious impacts from the lockdown, including increased drug use, delayed medical care, depression among youth, and the overall need for mental health services.

Nov. 25, 2020

Colusa County saw its first sharp spike in COVID-19 to 71 positive cases, an increase from 40 two days earlier, and an increase to 136 people in quarantine. As a result of increasing COVID-19 cases in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a “stay-at-home” order through Dec. 21 that included a 10 PM and 5 AM curfew for purple tiered counties. The curfew came just days after the governor held a press conference to “apologize” for breaking his own “mandates” by attending a posh dinner party indoors. Newsom was caught on video not following social distancing guidelines and not wearing a face covering, which fueled a recall effort that had already been in the works over his handling of the coronavirus lockdowns. Newsom’s new orders also didn’t stop at least a dozen California lawmakers from jetting off to attend a four-day conference in Hawaii.

Dec. 2, 2020

Despite continued pressure for Colusa County Public Health officials to reveal where COVID-19 cases are located, health officials maintained that the answer was “everywhere.”

Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly said coronavirus spread was still largely related to “workplaces” in a county where 80 percent of the population is considered essential and most people with COVID-19 have only mild symptoms. Colusa County had 102 active cases of COVID-19, up from 78 three days earlier, with two people hospitalized and 198 in quarantine. There had been 737 positive cases to date. Kelly expected by mid-December, COVID-19 cases would double because 70 percent of people in quarantine eventually test positive for the virus.

Dec. 9, 2020

Colusa County Public Health announced a seventh Colusa County resident had died from COVID-19, the disease associated with the SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus.

The jump in COVID-19 cases across California prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to announce a new framework for a new stay-at-home order that is tied to intensive care unit capacity within “regions” of the state. Colusa County, which was in the Sacramento region, had, at the time, 155 individuals in isolation with the virus, and 215 in quarantine. There had been 885 positive cases to date. Colusa County Public Health officials said they would closely monitor COVID-19 cases locally and announce when Colusa County was triggered if the Sacramento region’s ICU capacity dropped below 15 percent, which would require certain businesses to shut down for three weeks.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he anticipated that “hope” is on the horizon. Newsom, in a press conference, said December and January would be challenging with COVID-19 cases on the rise, but that he expected the first round of coronavirus vaccine (developed by Operation Warp Speed) would be received by Dec. 15 to be administered to health care workers.

Dec. 16, 2020

Colusa County Public Health announced that an eighth person had died from complications of COVID-19. To date, 991 tests have come back positive since the first case in March. There were 163 people who tested positive in isolation, 264 people quarantined, and four people hospitalized.

Dec. 23, 2020

Colusa County received 168 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which it administered to health care workers at Colusa Medical Center and Valley West Care Center. The first-round allocation was not enough to provide all local health care workers with a vaccine, but additional vaccines, including the Moderna vaccine, was expected.

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of a 21cf ultra low-temperature freezer to store coronavirus vaccine. The freezer, expected to ship by mid-January, cost $8,333, with the community at large expected to be vaccinated by mid-April of 2021.

With 205 active cases of COVID-19 in isolation and 291 in quarantine, Colusa County remained at the most restrictive tier of lockdown, based on regional ICU capacity. While five people were reported to be hospitalized, there was no one in the three available ICU beds locally. The county, at the end of the year, averaged six new cases of COVID-19 over a 7-day period, with health care workers also getting sick.

For the first time since the pandemic stated, Colusa County released specific data on coronavirus activity. The average age for positive cases was 39 years old, with 64 percent being Hispanic; 19 percent non-Hispanic, and 17 percent unknown. With contract tracers often hitting a brick wall, Colusa County Public Health decided to concentrate their contact tracing efforts on ages 65 and older, health care workers, and other high-risk individuals. Eight Colusa County residents had died from complications of the disease. A total of 913 recovered.

A new strain of Coronavirus from the United Kingdom was reported in the U.S. The virus is believed to be more contagious but may not cause more serious symptoms of the disease.

Dec. 30, 2020

There were 283 active cases of COVID-19 in Colusa County, with 10 people hospitalized and 273 people in quarantine. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, a total of 1,382 positive tests were recorded. Colusa County continued to be in the “purple” or most restrictive tier on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s blueprint for a safe reopening of the economy.

Jan. 6, 2021

Public Health officials announced that a ninth Colusa County resident had died from complications of COVID-19, and 1,085 people have recovered. The number of active cases in isolation increased to 302, while the number of people in quarantine decreased to 146. There were 10 people in the hospital.

Jan. 13, 2021

Colusa County Public Health Department announced that the most recent death from COVID-19 was a twice-infected 59-year-old female with severe lung disease. The previous deaths had all been elderly people residing in nursing homes.

About 200 Valley West patients and health care workers received the Moderna vaccine in its first distribution. The county previously distributed about 195 Pfizer vaccines to health care workers at Ampla Health and Colusa Medical Center. About 75 Colusa County firefighters also received their first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 5. It was unknown how long the vaccine would provide protection from the virus. A total of 1,613 positive tests were reported. There were 416 active cases in isolation, a drop from 457 three days earlier.

Colusa County stopped reporting the number of people in quarantine. There were six people hospitalized.

Jan. 20, 2021

Public Health officials announced that more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests had been administered since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. There was a total of 1,733 positive tests to date, with most people recovering from the virus. There were seven people hospitalized.

Jan. 27, 2021

The number of active cases of coronavirus jumped to 493, exactly one year to the day after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in California. Colusa County’s active case court is the highest since its first documented COVID-19 case in March. Public health officials linked the recent peak in virus activity to holiday gatherings and travel. Colusa County had 11 people hospitalized with COVID-19. There have been 11,041 tests given with 1,907 positive tests to date.

Feb. 4, 2021

The ability for Colusa County Public Health to get vaccines into the arms of essential workers was limited with an allocation of 200 doses every 10 days. Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Kelly described the county’s allocation of vaccine doses from the state as a “slow painful drip.”

Colusa County launched a new dashboard on the county’s website that would track how many vaccines were received and how many were administered.

The death count for COVID-19 in Colusa County reached 11 as the global pandemic of coronavirus officially entered its second year, while the number of active cases continued to fall, and vaccinations continued to ramp up. There were 116 positive cases in isolation with seven people hospitalized. A drop in coronavirus activity in California prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to ease restrictions across the state, allowing for outdoor gatherings and restaurants to open for outdoor dining.

Feb. 11, 2021

Assemblyman James Gallagher led a bipartisan group of legislators in demanding Gov.

Gavin Newsom to issue new guidance that would allow for more outdoor sports activities for youth. A total of 42 lawmakers signed onto a letter asking the governor to “Let Them Play.” Coaches reported the ban on sports had resulted in a sharp rise in gang membership, drug and alcohol use, dropping out of school, and incarceration. Coaches also reported an alarming social equity disparity, as private schools and exclusive club teams continued to participate in sporting activities during the lockdown.

Feb. 18, 2021

Teachers in Colusa County and across California catapulted to the top of the vaccination matrix to get them to return to the classrooms. Gov. Gavin Newsom moved educators up on his vaccination list ahead of essential workers to get schools reopened to in-person learning. California’s powerful teacher unions have fought to keep schools on strict lockdowns since March 2020, by citing concerns for their personal safety. Education officials, however, claimed the unions used the global pandemic to negotiate higher salaries and benefits and to launch new social justice policies.

Colusa County Public Health announced a 12th person had died from COVID-19 complications. The death came following a downward trend in local virus activity, although the county remained on Tier 1 or “purple” on the governor’s matrix. Colusa County was averaging 5.57 cases per day, which was considered “substantial,” although the county must hold that rate to move up to the “red” tier. Colusa County had a total of 2,110 positive tests out of 14,328 tests given.

Feb. 25, 2021

Cross Country running and high school golf got underway after a year of lockdown of all youth sports. The Sacramento Valley cross country league allowed two teams at a time to run the course from the Sacramento River Recreation Area in Colusa. The league also allowed for only varsity and junior varsity runners to participate.

March 4, 2021

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors tossed out the governor’s vaccine eligibility matrix based on job descriptions to vaccinate the county’s most vulnerable population, those aged 65 and older. Public Health announced that a 13th person had died of COVID-19 and that older residents have the greatest risk of complications from the virus. Now that teachers and health care workers were vaccinated, Public Health wanted to get a jump on getting 65 and older vaccinated before the state opened the process for 50 and up on April 1 and everyone on April 15.

Colusa County Public Health officials announced that they have received a total of 3,800 vaccine doses to date, with 1,370 of those being issued to local healthcare providers. Public Health administered 1,202 doses to teachers, firefighters, and health care workers.

The American Red Cross announced a need for blood plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. It was thought that blood from those who fully recovered from the virus had sufficient antibodies that could help in the treatment of newly diagnosed patients. Donations were encouraged every seven days while the antibodies were still present in healthy individuals.

March 11, 2021

Colusa County moved into the “red” tier on the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s blueprint for a safer economy on March 8, or to return to purple after a 14th elderly patient succumbed to the virus.

Enough already! The Colusa County Board of Supervisors asked the governor to drop his blueprint for a safer economy so that Colusa County could open, and children could return to school. Despite a downward trend in Coronavirus, Colusa was in the “purple” tier with just 21 active cases of COVID-19 in a population of over 20,000 residents.

March 18, 2021

For the first time since COVID-19 cases began to plummet in February, the number of positive cases stabilized. Colusa County had a total of 2,155 positive tests since the virus first presented in March 2020. The total number of cases in isolation dropped from 21 to 17 with n new cases over a three-day period, allowing Colusa County to return to the “red” or less restrictive tier on the governor’s blueprint. Although case rates have dropped, Public Health officials urged residents to maintain COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing face coverings while in public.

Allocations of the Moderna vaccine increased from about 200 per week to 500 per week, with Public Health staff administering vaccines at clinics at the Colusa County Fairgrounds. About 2,120 vaccinations were given out to date.

March 25, 2021

High school sports returned with modified sports seasons. Organizations also resumed spring events after a one-year hiatus from the coronavirus lockdowns.

April 1, 2021

The City of Williams announced that it would take a cautious approach to reopening city facilities and parks, citing an uncertain future with a new coronavirus variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been found in California. The variant is known as B.1.427/B.1.429, which could be more contagious and possibly cause more significant disease than the original virus that first appeared in China and spread to the U.S, health officials said. The City Council has tentatively set July 1 for city facilities and parks to reopen.

Colusa County has had a total of 2,170 positive tests for COVID-19 since the first case was reported by the Pioneer Review on April 1, 2020. A total of 2,141 cases have recovered and 16 people have died. There are currently 13 cases in isolations.

Colusa County Public Health has received 8,620 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with 2,890 distributed to local health care providers and 3,226 doses have been administered. As of April 6, 9.1 percent of Colusa County’s total population and 28.7 percent of senior citizens aged 65 or older have been vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. There is currently no one hospitalized with the virus.

Colusa County is in the orange Tier 3, considered moderate in terms of spread. Colusa County, as of April 6, reported less than one new case of COVID-19 per day over a 7-day period.

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