Medical experts warn against complacency as new COVID variant appears Counties like Butte most at risk for a surge

Enloe Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Marcia Nelson

by Natalie Hanson
posted April 16

Public health experts are urging people to stay vigilant and get vaccination boosters as the new COVID-19 variant BA.2 becomes the dominant strain of coronavirus.

Experts worry that as the new variant spreads, in counties like Butte where vaccination rates and community masking are low, communities will be particularly vulnerable.

Butte County Public Health data reports that as of April 11, the population is 55.8% fully vaccinated, 5.76% partially vaccinated and 38.35% unvaccinated. Yet, statewide, 75% of people 5 and older are fully vaccinated and 9% are partially vaccinated. read more

Tuscan Water District gets LAFCO nod Commission unanimously approves TWD

photo by Leslie Layton
Wilson Landing Road orchard.

by Leslie Layton
posted Feb. 3

The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) today gave its unanimous approval to the Tuscan Water District (TWD), a proposed district that will now give northwestern Butte County landowners the chance to vote on formation, with one vote allocated for each acre owned.

The seven-member commission voted after more passionate debate, with members of the public often arguing that the landowner-based voting structure isn’t fair to small farmers and homeowners. But TWD and LAFCO said the district has agreed to divide into nine voting blocks to minimize influence by the largest landowners. read more

Proposed Tuscan Water District before LAFCO TWD is a "scramble" for the "new gold," critics say

photo by Karen Laslo
Deseret Farms, part of a corporate family run by the Mormon church, is the largest landholder in the proposed water district.

by Leslie Layton
posted Jan. 31

Many on the petitioners’ list of 70 parties working to form the proposed Tuscan Water District (TWD) describe themselves as local families who want to ensure the future of their farms.

But whether it’s the landowner-based voting structure, the many out-of-town mailing addresses, or the fact that that they’re trying to secure supplies of what many are now calling the “new gold,” TWD has rankled many Butte County residents.

The Butte County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will consider giving its stamp of approval to TWD at a 9 a.m. Feb. 3 public hearing in the Oroville City Council chambers. LAFCO will also recommend conditions for approval meant to address the concerns of critics. read more

Project Roomkey extended in Butte County Some motel space will be available through March 2022

photo by Karen Laslo
District 2 Supervisor Debra Lucero

by Leslie Layton
posted Dec. 17

The Butte County Board of Supervisors made funding available this past week to extend Project Roomkey – the state program that utilized federal funds to house at-risk homeless people during the pandemic.

In a 5-0 vote, the board on Dec. 14 approved a proposal brought forth by supervisors Debra Lucero and Tami Ritter that allocates $1.5 million from the county’s General Fund for motel rooms for unsheltered senior citizens or individuals with chronic health conditions who need isolation or quarantine during the pandemic. The rooms will be available until the end of March and the occupants will receive services to help them maintain quarantine, such as meal delivery. read more

Pandemic’s painful toll in Butte County discussed at briefing Panelists call for dialogue, stronger leadership

photo by Leslie Layton
Butte County Public Health’s Victor Rodriguez speaking at a statewide media briefing.

by Leslie Layton
posted Dec. 11

Butte County’s abysmal COVID-19 vaccination rate is a symptom of an anti-science movement that has cost lives, polarized communities, and contributed to a “climate of denial,” panelists said at a statewide media briefing.

Five Butte County residents made up a panel at a briefing sponsored by Ethnic Media Services earlier this week to discuss this region’s COVID toll. They reminded a Zoom audience of 62 people that the county has been ravaged by wildfires, its residents slammed by soaring housing costs. On top of all that, misinformation about the virus has further polarized communities. read more

Break the “local silence” on Covid Chico teen says youth need "dialogue of healing"

photo courtesy of Maya Klein

by Maya Klein
guest commentary
posted Dec. 10

Ed. note: This is a condensed version of a presentation made by Chico’s Maya Klein at a Dec. 7 statewide Ethnic Media Services briefing.

My high school — Inspire School of Arts and Sciences — is a bubble within Chico. Our student vaccination rate is 82%, and our population generally follows mask and hygiene guidelines.

Our 2020-2021 school year remained almost entirely on Zoom classes, following a 1×8 schedule in which we delved into a single class for each month until the end of the school year. During this time, other high schools within Chico had returned to in-person learning, and as a result, student Covid cases began to increase. read more