Hotels in South Lake Tahoe that have been shuttered since mid-March because of COVID-19 will be allowed to open June 12 per a decision announced June 5 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

El Dorado County Public Health Officer Nancy Williams in a statement said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t caution owners, employees, patrons and residents in general that now is the time to be even more disciplined about maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene practices. Now more than ever, personal responsibility will determine whether El Dorado County moves forward or backward as we navigate the opening of more and more portions of our society and daily lives.”

The county doctor was part of Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce’s webinar on June 5 about what is going on in El Dorado County regarding the pandemic. Joining her were Clint Purvance with Barton Health, county CAO Don Ashton, county Supervisor Sue Novasel, and county spokeswoman Carla Hass.

“We are looking at hospital bed capacity and PPE supplies closely so we don’t end up in a tricky position,” Williams said.

Caltrans has COVID-19 signage throughout the state. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

As of June 5, there were 106 cases in El Dorado County, with 48 of them in the Lake Tahoe area. Two patients at Barton have COVID-19, with three others who are suspected of having the virus. Most people have been able to be treated at home.

Williams is most worried about community transmissions of the virus because a person likely doesn’t know how he or she got it. The county has always had a contact tracing mechanism in place when it comes to infectious diseases to try to contact anyone a person with the disease may have been near.

“The more mitigation measure we put in place we will probably have a decrease of the spread of the virus in the community,” Purvance said. He said no patients at the hospital have contacted the virus from staff and staff has not contacted it from patients. As of now, he said, supplies are in good shape. He expects the hospital will continue to have cases until there are better treatments or a vaccine.

Purvance said the hospital is capable of seeing other types of patients and urges anyone needing emergency medical care to not tough it out at home.

Free testing for the novel coronavirus offered by the state continues at Lake Tahoe Community College by appointment. Williams said she does not know how long this will last. While some people are choosing to get tested more than once, the overall numbers released by the county do not reflect this stat. However, the county is able to keep track of how many times someone gets tested. Skilled nursing homes throughout the state are required to do periodic testing; this includes Barton’s 48-bed center.

Anti-body testing is available at private commercial laboratories.

As for openings coming in the next week, in addition to hotels, short-term rentals like VRBO and Airbnb will be permitted. The governor also outlined how campgrounds, gyms, casinos and day camps may resume operations. Each comes with a list of requirements to ensure the safety of workers and patrons. For more details, go online. The future of schools was also laid out Friday.

El Dorado County on June 5 sent a letter to the governor asking for the travel ban to be lifted as well as the stay at home order. It was also signed by South Lake Tahoe, Placerville, Barton, and Marshall Hospital officials.

Weddings continue to be a no-no because they fall under the category of a large gathering.

Officials continue to urge wearing masks, staying 6 feet apart, washing hands, and wearing eye protection.

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