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Spike in Lake Tahoe region coronavirus cases concerns El Dorado County

“Lake Tahoe, if it were its own county, would have been on the monitoring list for the state and by now, having some restrictions made,” said Dr. Nancy Williams.

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — Big crowds came out for the holiday weekend, and with the coronavirus already on the rise, El Dorado County leaders are bracing for a spike in cases.

The supervisors had an emergency meeting Thursday as they face a unique challenge. On the whole, El Dorado County’s coronavirus numbers have not landed it on the state’s watch list. Still, the South Lake Tahoe region specifically has seen a big spike in just over two weeks.

“Lake Tahoe, if it were its own county, would have been on the monitoring list for the state and by now, having some restrictions made,” said Dr. Nancy Williams, the county’s public health officer.

Williams said that numbers presented at the June 23 supervisors' meeting showed that from March 19 through June 22 (95 days) there were 75 cases in the Lake Tahoe region. From June 22 to July 8 (16 days) there were 62 new cases.

Those numbers are all from people who live in the Lake Tahoe region.

"We can assume that for every Tahoe resident, there is probably one or more visitors who have been affected as well and that were probably transferring the disease back and forth among people who are sharing spaces together,” Williams said.

For now, supervisors have given the county’s environmental manager more direction on enforcing guidelines at businesses.

If the county gets a complaint about a business not following rules, the county can step in to take action with enforcement help from Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) which controls state liquor licenses.

Board members say they also want to form a task force made up of leaders from neighboring counties and the State of Nevada to ensure guidelines and enforcement are consistent.

“If we were to do something like close our bars,” supervisor Sue Novasel said, “You can literally walk across the street to a Nevada bar, if there's were to stay open, and we were closing.”

While it’s the Lake Tahoe region getting the most attention now, there are other case upticks in parts of El Dorado County, like El Dorado Hills. Still, at this point, the county has seen zero deaths.

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