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4th Of July 'Festival' In Rural Nevada County Sparks COVID-19 Outbreak

NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — Parties and events in the backwoods of the Tahoe National Forest are getting the attention of law enforcement and health leaders.

The Nevada County Health Department recently announced some people who went to a Fourth of July festival outside of Nevada City tested positive for COVID-19.

Based on social media posts, it appears to have even a multi-day event held on private property in the San Juan Ridge area. It's a quiet, private community where John Rivera came to escape the spread coronavirus.

"I'm up here to protect myself," Rivera said.

He's one of many in town frustrated by the July 4th festival held a few weeks back that resulted in positive coronavirus cases.

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"Privilege and selfishness," said Melissa Thomas, another San Juan Ridge Resident.

The health department is trying to contact trace and warn people.

"Unfortunately it's inevitable something like that's going to happen. Because people don't take it seriously," Rivera said.

One man who said he attended the party told CBS13 there were about 150 people there, mostly from out of town. Gatherings like this are not allowed statewide.

"They chose this place, thought they could get away with it, thought it was really cool to come here," Thomas said.

Thomas has lived in San Juan Ridge for decades and said it's possible COVID-positive outsiders visited the only two convenience stores in the area. She worries about that starting an even bigger outbreak.

"Logically, reasonably, they could've," she said.

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Locals said some of the people who organized the party apologized via social media, but it was too little, too late.

"He just has a lot of growing up to do. He really doesn't get what he did. He's just trying to say the right thing," Thomas said.

The Nevada County Health Department is asking people in the area to answer their calls. A nurse is trying to reach those potentially exposed to the virus with information about where to get tested and treated if need be.

The department has not said how many people from the festival tested positive.

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