COVID-19: Siskiyou County's positivity rate is nearly triple the statewide average

Skye Kinkade Matt Brannon
Mount Shasta Herald

Siskiyou County has both the third highest COVID-19 positivity rate in the state and the third highest adjusted new case rate – and both metrics are well above the state average.

Siskiyou’s positivity rate of 18.5% is nearly triple California’s 6.4%, according to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The county’s new case rate is 46.2 per 100,000 residents; the statewide average is 30.2. 

As of Thursday afternoon, Siskiyou County Public Health was reporting 752 confirmed cases in the county, 136 of which were active. South Siskiyou has jumped ahead in the number of cases, with 36% of the total. There have been four COVID-19 related deaths.

More than 300 cases have been reported in the past two weeks.

More:COVID-19: Amid surge, Siskiyou County officials report fourth death

More:COVID-19: Siskiyou hospitals Mercy and Fairchild are 'prepared to meet the demand'

With coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising rapidly, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans for a new stay-at-home order Thursday to combat the spread of the virus. 

California officials have drawn five regions within the state and said the order will take effect if a region has its ICU capacity drop below 15%. The order hasn't taken effect in any regions yet as of Thursday afternoon. 

Siskiyou County is in the Northern California region, along with Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Tehama and Trinity counties. The state projects that Northern California region's ICU capacity will drop below 15% in early December. 

A sample is collected at a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Norman.

Regions that drop below the threshold will have a three-week stay-at-home order. The order prohibits private gatherings of any size. Newsom also said all non-essential travel is now restricted statewide. 

Sectors remaining open when a region is placed under the order include:

• Schools that are already open 

• Critical infrastructure 

• Retail (20% capacity to reduce exposure) 

• Restaurants (take-out and delivery)

Sectors that will close when a region is placed under the order include:

• Bars  

• Wineries 

• Personal Services 

• Hair Salons / Barbershops

More:COVID-19 through the eyes of a Mount Shasta doctor: 'Citizen' is a verb

More:Will your region be affected by Newsom's COVID-19 stay-at-home order? Here's where California stands

Representative Doug LaMalfa was quick to criticize Newsom’s plan. LaMalfa contends that California has 7,881 ICU beds, “only 2,121 of which are being used by coronavirus patients.”

LaMalfa said the majority of ICU and hospital beds are being used by people getting elective surgeries. 

“Yes, the number of positive COVID cases is rising, but the mortality rate continues to fall. These facts do not justify another lockdown of California. If lockdowns worked, this virus would have been stopped or controlled earlier this year,” LaMalfa said in a statement.

“I don’t know why any reasonable Californian would follow these unconstitutional edicts. Instead of letting the Governor rule us by ear and whim, I hope citizens will judge the risks involved based on all data and decide for themselves the best course of action. My hope is that government can present facts and let the people decide the best way to act without force, coercion, or mandates.”

“This is temporary," Newsom tweeted Thursday. "Hope is on the way. Relief is on the way. A vaccine is coming – with first doses arriving in the next few weeks. We can get through this – together.”

Matt Brannon covers politics, the criminal justice system and breaking news for the Record Searchlight.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.