Media Briefing Take-Away: No-Go for Airbnb/VRBO Non-Essential Travelers

Is it OK to behave as if it’s business as usual with regard to Shasta County Airbnb/VRBO and other short-term rentals in the era of COVID-19?

That topic was among many addressed during this morning’s Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency’s media briefing.

The short answer is no:  Short-term vacation rentals may not proceed as usual.

According to Shasta County HHSA Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom, guests who engage in non-essential travel into our county from elsewhere are in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order and the governor’s non-essential travel ban. She added that it’s known that non-essential travel has contributed to Shasta County’s positive COVID-19 cases.

Likewise, short-term-rental hosts who represent such platforms as Airbnb and VRBO should not accept bookings of non-essential travelers.

The takeaway: Short-term rental hosts should not accept new bookings of non-essential travelers. Likewise, current bookings of non-essential travelers should be cancelled.

In other Monday-morning media-briefing news

The best news of the day was that Monday marks the fourth consecutive day of zero new reported COVID-19 cases.

Though this information is worthy of celebration, the absence of new positive reported cases doesn’t give a green light to ease up on social distancing practices. If anything, the lack of new cases shows that Shasta County is benefiting from citizens’ hard work to help slow the rate of infection and increase containment measures.

With that in mind, Ramstrom cautioned the public to not take things lightly, and to not assume that the lack of new positive COVID-19 numbers means things are winding down, or that we have permission to relax our social distancing efforts. Ramstrom said that continued adherence to social distancing measures allows an opportunity for cases to trickle in and not overwhelm healthcare workers and facilities.

Additional rapid-response test kits

More good news. Mercy Medical Center received a precious delivery of quick-turnaround test kits that provide results within about an hour.

The less-cheery news is that of the approximately 3,000 kits the hospital ordered, it received about 100. Even so, Mercy Medical Center is sharing some of those quick-turnaround kits with other health-care facilities, such as Shasta Regional Medical Center. Meanwhile, another 50 or 60 test kits may be arriving per week.

Easter weekend slippage?

Some people may have relaxed their previously stellar social distancing compliance measures during the Easter holiday weekend to spend time with those other than their usual housemates. If that’s the case, Ramstrom suggests returning to the strict guidelines and watching carefully for COVID-19 symptoms during the crucial 14-day incubation time frame.

In particular, Ramstrom said that anyone who left Shasta County should stay home for a few weeks to ensure the virus wasn’t contracted and brought in from elsewhere.

UPDATE: An additional Shasta County resident tests positive for COVID-19.

Click here for video recordings of the media briefings.

Click here for complete Shasta Ready COVID-19 information, including press releases and videotaped media briefings.


Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency hosts a video media briefing that provides Shasta County COVID-19 updates.

Information sources include the following unified command agencies: Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, CalFire, and Shasta County Sheriff, as well as the following cooperating agencies: City of Redding, City of Anderson
City of Shasta Lake, Mercy Medical Center Redding, Shasta Regional Medical Center, Redding Rancheria Tribal Health Center, Shasta Community Health Center, Mountain Valleys Health Centers and Mayers Memorial Hospital District.


Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.