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Despite backlash, no punishment for attendees of Granite Bay NYE party from area agencies

The Placer County agencies tasked with enforcing public health orders will not issue violations or citations on attendees, hosts, or homeowner.

GRANITE BAY, Calif. — Before 2021, the picturesque 12,600 square foot mansion overlooking Folsom Lake was best known as Eddie Murphy's former home. Now, the Granite Bay property is referred to as the "Covid Castle."

It earned its title after a New Year's Eve bash drew more than a hundred guests amid regional stay-at-home orders and attracted backlash online.

The secret New Year's party in the comedians' former mansion wasn't so secret after partygoers couldn't help but upload their night on social media. Many reacting to the screenshots, shares, comments, and tags with disdain.

Despite the backlash, Placer County agencies won't be writing up violations or citations for attendees, hosts, or the homeowner. County records show the owner of the home is Brent Lee, a developer from the Bay Area with a company that rents real estate. Several attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Compared to endless complaints and criticism on social media, only one noise complaint ever made it to local government agencies tasked with enforcing public health orders. ABC10 reached out to all of them.

RELATED: People of Sacramento Instagram account says attendance at Granite Bay NYE party was 'mistake'

The Placer County Sheriff's office said a responding deputy went inside the mansion and left without writing a citation after the host said they'd be quiet. The office has maintained it will not enforce orders and would take an educational approach to public health orders instead.

The Short Term Rental Program said it did not receive any complaints at the home on Vista de Lago Court. However, a spokesman said the owner would not face enforcement action because the agency only regulates short-term rentals in Eastern Placer County.

Although regional stay-at-home orders prohibit short-term rentals, except for verified essential workers, any violations outside of Eastern Placer County would fall under noise complaints, according to a spokesman at the county's Short Term Rental Program. 

Finally, the public health department addressed the event with a statement from Placer County Interim Public Health Officer, Dr. Rob Oldham:

"Public Health has been made aware of this event. With this and any other gatherings that may have occurred over the holidays, we encourage participants to get tested and to stay home and away from others as much as possible."

In a Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 1, 2020, Dr. Oldham said, "I don't see criminalization as just or effective. Doing that will further drive our community apart." 

He had added, exceptions could be made for egregious cases. 

ABC10 asked if the public health department considered Granite Bay New Year's Eve party egregious. The spokesman responded, " [Dr. Oldham] stated that egregious examples might be referred to state agencies who hold enforcement authority (citations, etc.). Given the media attention, the state is likely already aware of this event."

He did not confirm whether the department referred the event to state agencies.

While it appears there won't be governmental consequences, there are still real-life consequences of a likely surge of transmission of coronavirus through the communities.

"If an individual who attended a large gathering were to test positive and were considered infectious during the timeframe, contact tracing would attempt to identify a roster of close contacts, and notification would occur. Contact tracing is more difficult if contacts are spread out geographically, and can also be impeded by willingness to participate along with elevated level of community transmission," said the Placer co. public health spokesperson.

Internet sleuths were outraged. At least two Instagram accounts are dedicated to tracing and calling out attendees.

One woman who posted photos of herself at the party, later posted that she developed a fever and chills afterward. She urged people to get tested, but she has since deleted those posts. ABC10 attempted to reach her for comment. No cases have yet been confirmed or linked to the gathering. 

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