Sunday, April 26, 2020

California Climate Credit Lowers PG&E Bills Amid COVID-19 Financial Woes

Posted By on Sun, Apr 26, 2020 at 9:33 AM

PG&E employees work to replace a nearly 100-year-old utility pole in Berkeley last year. - ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • PG&E employees work to replace a nearly 100-year-old utility pole in Berkeley last year.

If you’re seeing a lower charge on your PG&E utility bill, it’s because of the California Climate Credit, part of California’s efforts to fight climate change.

Twice a year, the credit is applied to utility companies that are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Co. customers usually receive their credits in April and October. April’s credit was applied to PG&E customers' accounts as planned this month and October’s credit will be split in half and applied to May and June bills for PG&E customers, and no credit will be applied in October.  

According to CPUC representative Terrie Prosper, commissioners approved a proposal on April 16 to “accelerate the distribution of the California Climate Credit for PG&E” in response to increasing at-home energy usage due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order.



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A Thank You to Our Members

Posted By on Sun, Apr 26, 2020 at 6:51 AM

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For nearly 30 years, the North Coast Journal has been covering the stories and people you care about in Humboldt County. We’re proud to share our coverage in print and online for free so everyone — with or without internet access or the means to subscribe to a paper — can stay informed, especially during the current COVID-19 crisis.

This week, our ongoing COVID-19 reporting included daily case updates, a look at Janessa Johnsrude's beautiful Sheltering in Places series of portraits peering into people's homes as they hunker down, a story about how a musical collaboration featuring more than a dozen local musicians came together from afar, the latest on Humboldt County's unemployment numbers, Humboldt State University's plans for a virtual commencement, an explanation of the new facial covering order and what it means, a discussion of local COVID-19 models and their dire projections and a column about how translation services are a key piece of maintaining equity in the face of a pandemic. It’s been a lot to keep up with.

For the first time in our history, the Journal has created a way for readers to pitch in to help keep our mission going and the newsroom humming through these unprecedented times. (Click here for more information.)

We’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our newest supporters:

Janice Andersen
Melinda Bailey
Pat Bitton
Edward Christians
Luther Cobb
Audrey Drynan
Sheila Evans
Corinne Frugoni
Mary Gearheart
Judy Goucher
Sarah Hames-Anderson
E. Bruce Hitchko
Jeff Jacobsen
Cheryl Karnes
Lester Krause
Noah Levy
Johanna Mauro
Melanie Michalak
Julie Slater North
Robert Olofson
Jeanne Pendergast
Conor Shea
Beth Shipley
Linda Stansberry
Victor Starr
Elizabeth Titus
Mitch Trachtenberg
Kumi Watanabe-Schock
Judy Webb
Patricia-Anne WinterSun

You can pitch in to keep the mission going and the newsroom humming. Become a member today.
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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Public Health: No New COVID-19 Cases, One New Hospitalization

Posted By on Sat, Apr 25, 2020 at 4:02 PM

A Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public health
  • A Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test.
Humboldt County Public Health announced no new positive COVID-19 cases after processing 80 more local samples, though the county has seen another resident hospitalized due to the disease.

The announcement comes after the county confirmed its 53rd case yesterday, breaking an eight-day streak of new no cases and marking just the third local sample to test positive since April 7.

Tuesday, county officials announced both a mandatory facial covering ordinance and the first steps toward efforts to reopen aspects of life in Humboldt County that have been shuttered by COVID-19. It also comes after county officials spent Thursday evening discussing local modeling projections for the first time, which show how, with shelter-in-place restrictions for the rest of the year, Humboldt County could see 28 COVID-19 deaths by December and how, if all restrictions are lifted by May 1, we could see 188 deaths by July 1.

In a press release, Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said to expect more positive cases as the county begins easing shelter in place restrictions.

“As always, it is encouraging to see no positive cases, but we recognize that we will see some increase in cases as we ease shelter in place," she said. "Regardless, it is important that we begin to move forward soon at the state and local level and are planning accordingly.”

Testing rates have slowed in recent weeks, which has been attributed to everything from a backlog at corporate laboratories and a reluctance of providers to order tests to the county moving out of traditional cold and flu season, and fewer people suffering respiratory illness symptoms unrelated to COVID-19. But locals have gone from seeing an average of almost 87 tests a day in the span from March 25 through April 7, to an average of 47 tests a day since, with the latter span coinciding with a slowdown in positive cases. The biggest decline has come from the corporate labs, which went from reporting an average of almost 45 tests results a day in the first span to just nine tests per day in the second.

Of the county's 53 cases to date, 50 patients have recovered fully under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria and been released from isolation. Nine cases locally have been attributed to community transmission, meaning contact investigations could not determine the source of infection but believe it occurred locally. Four have been hospitalized.

As of yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control reported 865,585 COVID-19 cases nationally with 48,816 deaths, including 39,254 cases and 1,562 fatalities in California.

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Construction Begins on Makeshift Medical Facility at Redwood Acres

Posted By on Sat, Apr 25, 2020 at 9:42 AM

People unload supplies from a California Office of Emergency Services truck. - HUMCO COVID FACEBOOK
  • HumCo COVID Facebook
  • People unload supplies from a California Office of Emergency Services truck.
Construction has begun on an alternate care site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds that will be able to treat up to 100 non-critical patients in the event hospital capacity is overrun by a surge of COVID-19 cases.

According to a post on the HumCo COVID Facebook page, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services arrived Friday with with a large truck full of supplies to begin construction on the makeshift hospital. Deputy Health Officer Josh Ennis explained at a forum Thursday that local hospitals are scrambling to triple intensive care capacity, as well as overall bed space, while public health has identified a couple "alternate care sites" to erect temporary structures that will allow for the care of mildly ill patients, preserving hospital space for the critically ill.

"The Alternate Care Site will allow local hospitals to better utilize bed space, equipment and staff for the most in need, while continuing to provide care for those less seriously ill," the Facebook post states.


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HSU: Soliciting Investigation Ongoing, Faculty Member No Longer on Campus

Posted By on Sat, Apr 25, 2020 at 8:06 AM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University announced today that a faculty member accused of soliciting students no longer works on campus but said in the news release that details of the investigation and its outcome are not being made public because it is a personnel matter.

Students who may have been harmed are encouraged to seek out assistance from a variety of campus support services detailed in the press release copied below.

The release states that HSU is “confident that it responded strongly and appropriately, and that it reached a resolution that ensures the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”

The University Police Department has an open investigation into the allegations but is “not able to bring criminal charges at this time” because no formal complaints have been filed with the department, according to the release. Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming said in an email to the Journal that she has not received any police reports detailing the allegations.

HSU officials announced back in February that the campus had “expanded” an investigation into anonymous allegations that a member of its faculty “may have” solicited students for paid sex.

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Public Health Confirms First Local COVID-19 Case in Eight Days

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 4:53 PM

A Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public health
  • A Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test.
For the first time in more than a week, Humboldt County has a new COVID-19 case.

Public Health announced this afternoon that the county has confirmed its 53rd case, breaking a streak of eight days without a new case. This is the just the third local sample that has returned positive since April 7.

The announcement comes two days after county officials announced both a mandatory facial covering ordinance and the first steps toward efforts to reopen aspects of life in Humboldt County that have been shuttered by COVID-19. It also comes after county officials spent yesterday evening discussing local modeling projections for the first time, detailing how they show how, with shelter in place restrictions in place for the rest of the year, Humboldt County that if could see 28 COVID-19 deaths by December and how, if all restrictions are lifted by May 1, we could see 188 deaths by July 1.

Today's results  come after the Humboldt County Health Laboratory processed 57 tests and corporate labs returned another two results, for a total of 59. Testing rates have slowed in recent weeks, which has been attributed to everything from a backlog at corporate laboratories and a reluctance of providers to order tests to the county moving out of traditional cold and flu season, and fewer people suffering respiratory illness symptoms unrelated to COVID-19. But locals have gone from seeing an average of almost 87 tests a day in the span from March 25 through April 7, to an average of 47 tests a day since, with the latter span coinciding with a slowdown in positive cases. The biggest decline has come from the corporate labs, which went from reporting an average of almost 45 tests results a day in the first span to just nine tests per day in the second.

Of the county's 53 cases to date, 50 patients have recovered fully under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria and been released from isolation. Nine cases locally have been attributed to community transmission, meaning contact investigations could not determine the source of infection but believe it occurred locally.

As of yesterday, nationwide there were 865,585 confirmed COVID cases with 48,816 deaths, including 39,254 cases in California and 1,562 fatalities.

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Time to Mask Up, Humboldt

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 11:38 AM

JONATHAN WEBSTER
  • Jonathan Webster
At one minute past midnight today, facial coverings became the law of land in Humboldt County under an order announced Tuesday by county Health Officer Teresa Frankovich.

The ideal is simply: By wearing a mask you help protect others from a possible transmission of COVID-19 and when other people wear facial coverings, they help protect you and your family for the same reason. Those under 2 years old, who have breathing issues or who cannot take off a mask on their own are exempt.

Read the full order here.

Masks must be worn:
  • Inside an indoor facility (except for a person’s residence)
  • Any enclosed space
  • In outdoor spaces where individuals are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others at all times

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Local COVID Models Forecast Dozens of Deaths, More Than 100 Hospitalizations

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 10:20 AM

Deputy Health Officer Josh Ennis talks modeling projections. - COUNTY OF HUMBOLDT
  • County of humboldt
  • Deputy Health Officer Josh Ennis talks modeling projections.
Local models used by Public Health to predict the spread of COVID-19 project that if Humboldt County keeps all current social distancing orders in place, it could still see 28 deaths by December, at which point there could be 145 hospitalizations, with 64 people under intensive care and 38 using ventilators.

That’s one of two model projections Deputy Health Officer Josh Ennis presented to the public at a dialogue last night that also included Sheriff William Honsal and Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich, and was moderated by Lost Coast Outpost editor Hank Sims. The other projection was much more dire: If Humboldt County were to lift all social distancing orders and resume life as normal on May 1, the model projects we would see 188 deaths by July, at which point there would be 976 hospitalizations, with 408 people under intensive care with 251 patients using ventilators.

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HSU to Have Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 7:14 AM

The confetti will have to be virtual this year. - FILE
  • File
  • The confetti will have to be virtual this year.

Humboldt State University will be hosting a virtual graduation ceremony for this semester’s graduating students May 16, the same day the in-person ceremony would’ve been held at the Redwood Bowl.


The university shuttered its campus and shifted entirely to online instruction March 17 as fears mounted about the COVID-19 pandemic, and administrators have been working since to come up for a plan to celebrate student success from a distance at commencement.

The university will be putting together a video for each of its colleges with a message from President Tom Jackson Jr. and “others” congratulating students. In order to feel like a true graduation ceremony that highlights the achievements of its students, the university is requesting that graduating students submit a 10-second video saying their full name and an optional short message while wearing their caps and tassels, if they have them. Students have until May 1 to submit a video.


Students who choose not to submit a video will still be listed by name unless they send an email to grad@humboldt.edu requesting that their name not be displayed.


Faculty and staff are also encouraged to submit 10-second videos that will be available on the commencement website.


According to the site, HSU is still hoping to have an in-person ceremony for the class of 2020 in the future, “possibly next Spring."

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Public Health: Streak of No New COVID Cases Continues

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 4:40 PM

A Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public health
  • A Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test.
Humboldt County Public Health again announced no new positive tests today, leaving the county's COVID-19 tally at 52 for the eighth day in a row.

The announcement comes after the county recorded one positive case each on April 14 and April 15, the sole new cases locally since April 7, and two days after county officials announced both a mandatory facial covering ordinance and the first steps toward efforts to reopen aspects of life in Humboldt County that have been shuttered by COVID-19.

In a press release, Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said the results are good news but indicated the county continues planning for a spike in cases locally.

“A day without new cases is good news," she said. "At the same time, we continue to coordinate with Humboldt County’s medical community to plan for the increase in cases we will see as we ease shelter-in-place restrictions.”

Today's results  come after the Humboldt County Health Laboratory processed 42 tests and corporate labs returned another 11 results, for a total of 53. Testing rates have slowed in recent weeks, which has been attributed to everything from a backlog at corporate laboratories and a reluctance of providers to order tests to the county moving out of traditional cold and flu season and fewer people suffering respiratory illness symptoms unrelated to COVID-19. But locals have gone from seeing an average of almost 87 tests a day in the span from March 25 through April 7, to an average of 47 tests a day since, with the latter span coinciding with a slowdown in positive cases. The biggest decline has come from the corporate labs, which went from reporting an average of almost 45 tests results a day in the first span to just nine tests per day in the second.

Of the county's 52 cases to date, 50 patients have recovered fully under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria and been released from isolation. Nine cases locally have been attributed to community transmission, meaning contact investigations could not determine the source of infection but believe it occurred locally.

Of the cases to date, nine of the patients have been located in Northern Humboldt County (meaning north of State Route 299), 40 have been in the "Greater Humboldt Bay Area" (meaning south of State Route 299 to State Route 36) and three have been in Southern Humboldt. (It's worth noting, however, the patients' areas of residence don't necessarily correlate with where they contracted the virus.)

As of yesterday, nationwide there were 828,441 confirmed COVID cases with 46,379 deaths, including 35,396 cases in California and 1,354 fatalities.

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