Our Heidi Walters was at the press conference earlier this afternoon, and can confirm that Humboldt County has indeed seen its first death from the H1N1 virus.
The decedent -- a middle-aged woman -- was admitted to Redwood Memorial at the end of July. She tested positive for the virus on Aug. 9, and died on Friday. County public health officials reported that the woman had serious preexisting medical conditions, which the flu presumably exacerbated.
Hers was the fifth case of the new virus to hit Humboldt County since it emerged earlier this year. To date, there have been 7,983 hospitalizations and 522 deaths resulting from the disease nationwide.
Public Health is scrambling to prepare for an intensive vaccination outreach campaign in advance of the coming flu season. Overall, they expect that without action as much as half -- 50 percent -- of the county's could contract the virus in the coming months. Those most at risk include schoolchildren, pregnant women and people with certain preexisting medical conditions, especially obesity and respitory problems.
There'll be more on the story in this week's Journal.