Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Public Health Announces Five More COVID-19 Cases Today

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2020 at 5:21 PM

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County doubled today after five additional positive tests were returned, bringing the total to 10, Humboldt County Public Health announced.

A day after announcing that two members of a group that had recently returned from international travel had tested positive, the department announced today that four additional members of the same group have the virus. The fifth positive test today was in a sample taken from a “household contact” of one of the travelers.

click to enlarge COVID-19 testing in the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory. - COURTESY OF THE HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Courtesy of the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services
  • COVID-19 testing in the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory.

According to Public Health, the county’s fifth positive case, which the department announced late yesterday, is unrelated to the traveling group.

“Public Health is ascertaining whether this patient may have had contact with any confirmed cases,” the press release states. “If no such contact is identified, this individual would represent the first instance of community transmission, meaning the source of infection is unknown.”

In the press release, Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich stressed the importance of the county’s shelter-in-place order, which took effect last week.

“I cannot emphasize enough that travel increases every individual's risk and the risk to the community as a whole,” she said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to cancel non-essential travel and to comply with shelter-in-place orders.”

The last two days have seen the number of local cases spike significantly. The county recorded its first case in February in someone who had traveled to China and has since recovered. Then, on March 20, the county announced its second positive test, also in someone who had traveled to a "high-risk country." Yesterday, Public Health announced three additional cases, followed by the five today.

Basics of COVID-19 
The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, state that symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Emergency warning signs needing immediate medical attention include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to awaken, and bluish lips or face.

In an emergency situation: Call ahead to the emergency room or inform the 911 operator of the possibility of a COVID-19 infection and, if possible, put on a face mask. St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals have opened tents on their campuses to begin screening patients who have “significant” symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus. The general hours of operation for the tents is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but that is subject to change.

Symptoms or possible exposure: In the case of a possible exposure with symptoms — fever and cough or shortness of breath — contact your doctor’s office or the county Department of Health and Human Services, which has a hotline that can be reached during business hours at covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at hhsphb@co.humbldt.ca.us or at (707) 445-6200. 

St. Joseph Health has also set up a virtual assessment tool as an aid to assess risk factors for contracting the illness, which can be found at www.providence.org/patients-and-visitors/coronavirus-advisory.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has started a rumor-control webpage that can be found here.

For the Journal's latest COVID stories, updates and information resources, click here.

See the full press release copied below:


March 25, 2020 - Number of Confirmed Cases Double in Humboldt County

Five additional individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing to 10 the number of known cases in Humboldt County. Four of the patients were members of the international traveling group referenced yesterday that yielded two previous positive tests. The 5th is a household contact of one of these individuals.
The case identified late yesterday is unrelated to the international traveler group. Public Health is ascertaining whether this patient may have had contact with any confirmed cases. If no such contact is identified, this individual would represent the first instance of community transmission, meaning the source of infection is unknown.
Symptomatic individuals have been placed in isolation. Close contacts and positive individuals without symptoms are under quarantine. A multistate investigation of possible contacts related to the traveling group continues.
Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said this once again affirms the importance of the shelter-in-place order that went into effect last week and discouraged all travel. “I cannot emphasize enough that travel increases every individual’s risk and the risk to the community as a whole. It is everyone’s responsibility to cancel non-essential travel and to comply with shelter-in-place orders.”
The shelter-in-place order is in effect through April 9. For current information about COVID-19, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by emailing covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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