Del Norte County’s public health officer issued an order Friday limiting the use of hotels and vacation rentals to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus from potentially overburdening the local healthcare system.
The order went into effect Friday evening, March 27.
Dr. Warren Rehwaldt said during a news conference on Friday the order resembles actions taken by Brookings, Ore., and other coastal communities. The conference was also attended by Sutter Coast Hospital CEO Mitch Hanna and co-hosted by Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore and Del Norte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Hemmingsen.
Rehwaldt said local emergency personnel and public health officials felt it was important to move quickly on the restriction of hotels and vacation rentals.
“The order discourages unnecessary travel. There’s a high demand of travelers coming from out of the area and out of state. People may be trying to flee their own areas affected by COVID-19 but at the same time they might be bringing it with them,” Rehwaldt said.
The closure includes the following areas:
• County parks are closed to camping except for hosts or other people expressly authorized by the county for stays of 30 days or longer.
• Short-term rentals, including vacation rentals or homestay lodging, are prohibited in Del Norte County until the emergency ends.
• Hotels, motels, RV parks and private campgrounds are prohibited from housing anyone for less than a 30-day period. Some exceptions include a county resident allowing a family member or roommate to self-quarantine in their home.
• Pools, spas and other public bathing facilities are closed.
Hanna then outlined the steps Sutter Coast Hospital is taking to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
First, the hospital has issued restrictions on who may visit its patients to include only those visiting end-of-life or obstetrical patients or whose children are already in the hospital. Other visitors will not be allowed, Hanna said.
He added as of Friday morning, the hospital is monitoring staff temperatures and sending anyone home with a fever of more than 100 degrees.
Hanna said Sutter Coast Hospital has just 49-beds and they are planning for the worst while being fortunate to not have seen any COVID-19 cases yet.
“The surge plan plans for an additional 20 beds in the event we should need those,” Hanna said. “Our triage tent is in anticipation of a surge. Hopefully, that will not come, but we’ll be prepared if it does.”
The tent will be deployed in the case of an overwhelmed emergency room, where COVID-19 patients will be kept, outside, until it is confirmed that they should be hospitalized or if their illness can be managed through self-care at home, Hanna explained.
He directed residents who think they have COVID-19 to call the hospital’s RN Advice Triage Line at 866-961-2889.
“When patients call that number, they will be speaking with a registered nurse who will provide them with information on the appropriate level of care given their symptoms,” Hanna said. “In some cases, that may just be how to manage symptoms at home. In other cases, we’ll be directing them to the appropriate level of care within the community.”
He added that Sutter Coast should have as of Monday, March 30, the ability to administer COVID-19 tests with fairly quick turnaround times.