A community combating COVID-19

As cases begin to rise again, more restrictions are enforced in Placer County, greatly impacting local businesses and the community as a whole


Markus Spiske/Pexels

A new surge of cases gives way to new restrictions and new adjustments within the community.

The Fast Facts

(Click here to view the current COVID statuses of California counties)

(To view COVID-19 statistics in Placer County, visit this site)

  • “Placer County had 125 patients with Covid-19 in its hospitals, 38 new cases over the last day and an average of 86 new cases per day over the last 14 days,” a November 30 article  published by the Sacramento Business Journal reported.
  • Currently, much of California including Placer County, have gone into a mandatory stay at home order-enforced in counties where the ICU capacity has dipped below 15 percent. 
  • The stay-at-home order will last for at least 3 weeks, with some counties choosing to enforce the order for longer, until Jan. 4, 2021, an ABC news article reports.
  • Over 1.6 million Californians have been infected over the course of the pandemic- “or about one in every 24 residents of the state.”
  • On Tuesday, December 15, California broke its daily death record with 255 new victims of the virus. This was one day after the state recorded a record number of infections. 
  • In the Bay Area, ICUs were operating at 84.2% capacity; 84.1% in Greater Sacramento; and 70.2% capacity in Northern California. Statewide, ICU capacity has dwindled to 5.7%,” a Mercury News article reported on December 16.
  • As of late December 16, only 0.7% of Placer ICU beds are available,


What restrictions are being enforced? 

Currently, almost all non-essential businesses have been closed-with the exception of retail stores. Restaurants can only stay open for takeout or delivery, social gatherings are not allowed, and retail and grocery stores must operate at reduced capacity among other restrictions. To learn more, visit this article


A Light at the End of the Tunnel

  • The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Placer County.
  • Around 4,000 Placer County health care workers will receive the first dose of the vaccine this week, said Dr. Rob Oldham, the county’s director of health and human services and interim health officer, said in a public meeting Tuesday, a Sacramento Bee article reported. 
  • Sarah Lindsay, a critical care nurse from Northwell Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the first to receive the vaccine at 9:23 AM in New York on December 14, 2020. (source)
  • In California, Southern California healthcare workers were the first to receive the vaccine. 
  • Around a quarter of Americans are still reluctant to take the vaccine when it’s available, even if it has been scientifically proven to be safe and is free. However, the number of people who will, “definitely or probably get vaccinated” has increased significantly.  Read this recent report from KFF to see statistics and other survey findings  based on a recent survey of different demographics. 

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel,” Newsom said in a recent LA times article,“We are in the midst of the worst moment of this pandemic.”


 COVID-19 Controversy

Over the ongoing pandemic, the actions taken by the governor have clashed with those of the local government. Even within Placer County, there has been debate over mask-wearing and the necessity of the restrictions enforced by the state. 

Earlier this year, on June 10, controversy sparked when District 4 Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler posted a Facebook video comparing the effectiveness of masks to the red ribbon used to support AIDS awareness, a local article reported. 

In the video, Uhler encouraged those at high risk to wear face masks but also said,“Let me introduce you to the 2020 COVID-19 edition of the red ribbon, the face mask. Thinking you are going to be protecting yourself or somebody else, you might as well be walking around wearing one of these.” Uhler expressed he felt Placer County residents shouldn’t feel obligated to wear masks, despite the county health office strongly encouraging face coverings. 

According to the article, Uhler’s comments received, “the attention of around 25,000 people since it was posted on June 10. He has received both support and backlash.”

The controversy over COVID-19 responses has continued. In November, District 4 representative Kirk Uhler said that “the county will not enforce the tier restrictions on businesses and indoor operations.” 


Enforcement of Restrictions

Currently the Placer County Sheriff’s Office isn’t making arrests under the county’s or statewide orders or operating checkpoints to restrict travel. They are making regular rounds to businesses to ensure the governor’s executive order is being followed and are implementing an “education campaign” to educate owners and enforce the mandatory restrictions.

(for more information, see https://www.placer.ca.gov/6496/COVID-19-FAQ)


COVID-19 Updates In Roseville Joint Union School District 

(to view case counts and other COVID-19 updates  in the RJUHSD school district, click here)

According to this ABC News article, “Schools that have already received a waiver to reopen before the stay-at-home order can continue to do in-person learning.”

By a unanimous vote on December 14 from the RJUHSD Board of Trustees, students who chose to return to on-campus learning will return five days a week, on campus beginning January 5, 2021. Due to the large number of students returning to on-campus learning, it will not be possible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.

The Rocklin Unified School District (RUSD) has also voted to return students to the classroom, dividing students returning to on-campus learning into two groups to maintain social distancing-with instruction beginning on January 19, 2020. 

In both districts, these decisions have already been met with controversy from concerned parents, teacher unions and students about the safety of the nearing return. 


A Wild Winter Ball

Under the new stay at home order, “private gatherings of any size, indoor and outdoor, are not allowed.” 

However, on December 4th, a GBHS tradition was untraditionally held. Despite coronavirus concerns, a Winter Ball was still held this year. The ball took place at a local park with 125 unmasked students in attendance, having been privately organized by a committee of GBHS mothers and their teenagers. 

“The goal of the private senior event functions have basically just been basically they’re just trying to give seniors something to look forward to, something to do and some type of normalcy,” an anonymous parent told Granite Bay Today reporter Heba Bounar.

Jennifer Buschmann, an assistant principal, said,I think, as a community in Placer County, people are very aware that there’s that divide in how to handle the virus and the spread.”

The community divide has brewed conflict between the organizers of these private events and the community, specifically the GBHS administration, addressed multiple times by the students and parents Bounar interviewed.

“Granite Bay administration has been trying to involve themselves in events that are being put on privately,” an anonymous student told Bounar, “so they are basically trying to get them cancelled and are going out of their way to make sure they don’t happen. They are crossing into people’s private lives which is not ok at all.  …I just think it’s kind of unfair to the people that still want to have events when people try to cancel and sabotage them.”


A Loss to Local Libraries 

In the midst of COVID-19, libraries are a dramatically different scene. Local libraries are following numerous safety protocols and have implemented new ways to serve their patrons safely.

The Loomis Library, a library in Placer County, is closed and has been since mid-March. 

“If you had told me in March that come December our doors would still be closed to the public I wouldn’t have believed it,” said librarian and community engagement director Sarah Comstock. “We were really hoping that things would be better by now and that we could be reopened to the public. Instead we’re watching the (case) numbers go up.”

We were really hoping that things would be better by now and that we could be reopened to the public. Instead we’re watching the (case) numbers go up.

— Sarah Comstock

Despite these frustrations, Comstock and the Loomis Library is staying committed to serving the community to the best of their abilities through their pick up services. 

“It’s become abundantly clear that this is going to be the way things are for a while,” Comstock said.  “Digital programs and services, as well as curbside pickup for physical items are absolutely essential. We’re trying to add to what we’re currently offering in those areas – we’re adding new items including puzzles and games to the collection and adding pickup days for curbside, and we are working on expanding our digital programs lineup for the spring.”

With 2020 soon in the books, Comstock is looking forward to reopening the Loomis Library in 2021. 

(Currently, the Loomis Library is continuing to offer exclusively curbside and virtual services. Read more about the Loomis Library and other local libraries in this GB today article

Roseville’s libraries are operating a bit differently to the Loomis Library. 

According to their website, all three Roseville library locations are still open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm, but for limited services including browsing, checking out materials and one hour of computer use per day at the Downtown and Riley locations. Toys and furniture have been removed and meeting or study rooms are closed.  Additionally, like the Loomis Library, many facilities and programs have been operating with reduced hours or modifications. Many upcoming events have been cancelled as well.

In the meantime, Roseville’s libraries will continue to offer sidewalk pickup for holds. They, like the Loomis Library, have also come up with creative new services for their patrons.

Book bundle services, designed for busy parents who want books for their kids, consist of five different children’s books selected by staff and delivered through Sidewalk pickup. Roseville’s libraries are also giving personalized book recommendations to readers who fill out this quick form. 

(Information from https://www.roseville.ca.us/government/departments/library) 


Small Businesses Affected

Under the new stay-at-home order, restaurants can only stay open for takeout or delivery as indoor and outdoor dining are both banned. 

(for more information, see this source)

Nixtaco is a small restaurant and taqueria located in Roseville. 

After initially closing following the weekend of March 13 this year, the restaurant shifted to online orders and initiated a delivery service.

Currently the Nixtaco offers exclusively curbside pickup and delivery. They are recently offering Christmas Dinner Kits, available to order until December 20. 

Nixtaco has not been offering outdoor or indoor dining. 

“We’re a small restaurant and do not have the physical space to offer our current menu at limited seating capacities,” Wise said. “The labor costs derived from the extra staff needed to offer the service we wanted to, would not have been compensated with a 50% occupancy limitation.”

While some restaurants have stayed open at full capacity following Placer County’s decision not to enforce the mandates, Wise said this decision has not affected the business’ decision making at all. 

“Even though we could’ve ignored the State’s mandate and trust that the County would not enforce, and actually open at full capacity like some restaurants did, ”Wise said.  “It would not have been responsible on our part neither for our staff, nor for our community.”

As 2020 becomes 2021, Wise is not expecting any dramatic changes. 

“December 31st 2020 turning into January 1st 2021 is just one more day being counted,” Wise said. “Nothing really changes magically like many people expect.”

“We need to do our part to prevent the continuation of this pandemic.”

(Visit Nixtaco’s website here)


Closing Note

The community has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And as cases grow, the divide between us deepens too, from within the community to between our local and state government. Debate over mask wearing, restriction enforcement, politics and more has risen. 

Everyone has handled the pandemic differently, but currently, our community and the rest of California must do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.

This tumultuous year is finally coming to a close. With it, we are approaching the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a long way to go.  

Stay safe.