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COVID-19 Spikes In South Lake Tahoe, County Leaders Prepare For Emergency Meeting

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — Coronavirus cases are spiking in South Lake Tahoe. It's the biggest problem area for El Dorado County right now.

County leaders will have an emergency meeting Thursday about how to enforce masks and social distancing. People in town point to tourists as the problem, but county leaders say they are not interested in another travel ban.

"I think we're going to see a lot of change, I hope," said Suzanne Wright, a beachgoer.

South Lake Tahoe City leaders decided Wednesday to close the boat ramps to slow down visitors. The town accounts for 17% of the county's population but has more than 50% of positive cases.

"Along with an influx of people who are not taking the proper precautions, you're going to see an increase in cases," said Carla Hass, an El Dorado County spokesperson.

County leaders have not been able to pinpoint exactly where all the new cases are coming from. Contact tracers are struggling to get people to cooperate.

"Not everybody is happy to get our a phone call," Hass said.

Michel Chonez owns a souvenir shop next to the beach. The spike makes him worry.

"Closing again. Scared. We just restocked the store and the bill comes next month," he said.

He requires masks to go inside his store but said people like to give him trouble for that.

"We've actually asked people to leave the shop to the point where someone got so mad they said something nasty on Yelp to pay me back," he said.

Despite the COVID-19 spike, the American Century Championship Golf tournament will take place this week at Edgewood Tahoe South, drawing in big-name celebrities from around the country. Organizers said there will be no spectators and proceeds will be donated to COVID-19 relief.

"Right now more than ever, it's all about personal responsibility," Hass said.

Justin Perri and his family came to Tahoe from Los Angeles, another hotspot but on a much bigger scale.

"We came out here to get some sun and not be all huddled up and claustrophobic," he said.

County leaders are depending on people like him, and the locals, to take social distancing seriously.

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