Tuesday, June 30, 2020

'It Is Not Safe:' Frankovich Warns Against Gatherings, Mingling Households

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 7:46 PM

Humboldt County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich. - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Humboldt County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich.
With Humboldt County Public Health having confirmed 21 new COVID-19 cases over the past week and statewide case counts increasing by the thousands day after day, county Health Officer Teresa Frankovich began her June 30 media availability not with a reporter’s question but with a warning.

“I’m guessing most people in the county have been watching what’s happening across the country and certainly the state of California,” she began. “There are certainly areas of the state that are experiencing really rapid growth, exponential growth of this virus, which is what we’ve been talking about for quite a long time now, the idea that COVID can circulate in relatively small numbers but, as we bring people out and start to mix them together, that those numbers can increase, and dramatically increase across a community.

“I think there are huge lessons to be learned here,” she continued, adding that she’s concerned people will blame the increase on the reopening of bars, which has caught a lot of public attention because of the governor’s order to shutter them again in some counties. “Bars are certainly a place of risk. There’s no question about that. But what I think is really important for people to recognize is that it is, in fact, our day-to-day behavior that is putting us at risk. It is people gathering between households. It’s those networks of friends and neighbors … after a long time of shelter in place, people want to socialize and it starts to feel safe because they look like your neighbors, they’re your friends and it feels safe.

“And I think we just need to accept that it is not safe. The more you mix with other households, the more the virus is going to circulate, and it’s going to compromise our ability to move forward. It’s going to compromise our ability to be able to operate many things we want to do. Schools are really important for us to be able to have up and running in our community — I don’t want that compromised. I want us to be able to keep businesses open but, frankly, we’re going to have to walk things back if it doesn’t change. And another big, important piece of this is masking — it is absolutely essential going forward. It is absolutely essential going forward. It protects other people. It is not meant to protect you specifically, but if everyone is wearing them, it will protect you.”

Frankovich then closed her comments by intoning that Humboldt County is at a crossroads, its collective future in each of its residents’ hands.

“I just can’t emphasize enough that this is our time of personal responsibility,” she said. “Either we accept that this virus is a problem and has the potential to make a lot of us very sick, or we ignore it at our own peril.”

Watch the full video of Frankovich's media availability below.

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SECOND UPDATE: Growing Fire Near Burnt Ranch, Some Structures Threatened

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 4:59 PM

  • Photo by Paul Turner
  • The Flat Fire.


According to Shasta Trinity Forest Service:

“The Flat Fire was reported at 3:02 p.m. this afternoon near the Cedar Flat Picnic Area east of Burnt Ranch. It is currently approximately 80-100 acres in size and burning north towards Ironside Mountain. Highway 299 is closed in both directions and several structures in the area are threatened. The cause of the fires is under investigation. Current resources fighting the Flat Fire include three crews, five air tankers, two helicopters, eight engines, two water tenders, one dozer and a load of smokejumpers.”

Caltrans, meanwhile, reports that the highway could be re-opening to one-way, controlled traffic as soon as 8:30 p.m., warning motorists should expect delays.

Check out this video, from Trinity Sungrown, of a plane dropping supplies to smokejumpers on the ground.

 According to a 7 p.m. tweet by Caltrans District 1: “Route 299 east of Burnt Ranch in Trinity County remains fully closed. The highway is expected to re-open to one-way traffic control at approximately 8:30 p.m., and traffic control will continue overnight. Please expect delays and plan your travel accordingly.”

Caltrans is cautioning motorists that a vegetation fire has closed down State Route 299 east of Willow Creek near Burnt Ranch.

The Flat Fire was first reported at 3:20 p.m., apparently after a car overturned and caught fire, and grown to 80 to 100 acres within three hours, according to
Shasta Trinity Forest Service.
The Forest Service’s InciWeb reported at 5:10 p.m. that “3 crews, 5 Tankers and 2 helicopters are on scene. A crew of jumpers are on the ground. Both lanes of 299W are closed, some structures are threatened.”

According to one local resident, the fire is on the north side of the river at Cedar Flat. Fire engines from Big Bar have arrived on the scene.

The CHP page is also reported that the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department is putting out a CODE RED which alerts people through calls of emergencies in their areas.

At 4:08 p.m., the CHP page noted that the fire was burning away from the highway and one-way traffic control was in effect. But 4:11 p.m., the page said that the Forest Service is requesting to have 299 closed for one hour.

UPDATE 4:35 p.m.: Flightradar shows Tanker 160 and several other aircraft are joining the battle. UPDATE 4:38 p.m.: Caltrans is reporting, “EMERGENCY CLOSURE: SR 299 is closed approximately 2.5 miles east of Burnt Ranch (Trinity County) due to vegetation fire. WILL UPDATE”

UPDATE 4:41 p.m.: These air resources are either at or coming to the fire: AA50, Jumper 52, Tankers 95, 96, Helicopter 506, Helicopter 102 are either at or coming to the fire.

UPDATE 4:43 p.m.: Shasta Trinity Forest Service just tweeted, “[R]esponding resources include engines, air tankers and Helicopter 506. Fire is burning uphill and to the north. Motorists please avoid the area along Hwy 299 east of Burnt Ranch and west of Del Loma.”

UPDATE 4:53 p.m.: Caltrans just tweeted, “Route 299 east of Willow Creek near Burnt Ranch is fully closed due to a vegetation fire. The estimated time of reopening is one hour.”
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Humboldt County at a COVID-19 Crossroads, County Health Officer Cautions

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 4:45 PM

  • public health
Public Health reported no new confirmed COVID-19 cases today after a spike last week pushed the county’s total to 133.

According to a news release, 82 cases were contracted through a known case, 28 via travel and 23 were from community transmission, meaning the person who tested positive had no known contacts to another case and had not traveled outside the local area.

Areas across the nation and in California are seeing rapid increases in not only the number of cases but hospitalizations and many are stepping back on reopenings.

“As we watch what is happening across the state and even in our community, I think it is important for our community to recognize that we are at a crossroads,” County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said. “We can embrace the use of all the preventive measures we have, such as use of facial coverings and social distancing; we can choose not to gather with people outside our household, even extended family members; our business owners can follow the safety plans they have developed for the benefit of their employees and their customers, or we can choose to pretend that this pandemic is not real and increase risk for our friends and neighbors. It is really that simple.”

Humboldt County Public Health is urging residents who aren't experiencing symptoms to get tested free of charge at the mobile testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds. (People experiencing symptoms should contact a healthcare provider, officials say.) Asymptomatic individuals can make an appointment to be tested by visiting https://Lhi.care/covidtesting or calling (888) 634-1123. Tests will be administered free of charge, whether or not people have health insurance.

Basics of COVID-19

The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, state that symptoms of novel coronavirus include cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or at least two of the following: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or a new loss of taste or smell.

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.

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 here.

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.

Read the county's release below:

No additional cases of COVID-19 were reported today. Humboldt County’s case count remains at 133.

The means of transmission has been determined for all known cases. Of the 133 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 23 were acquired through community transmission, 28 were acquired through travel and 82 contracted the virus through contact with a known case.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich emphasized the importance of personal responsibility in containing COVID-19.

“As we watch what is happening across the state and even in our community, I think it is important for our community to recognize that we are at a crossroads,” she said. “We can embrace the use of all the preventive measures we have, such as use of facial coverings and social distancing; we can choose not to gather with people outside our household, even extended family members; our business owners can follow the safety plans they have developed for the benefit of their employees and their customers, or we can choose to pretend that this pandemic is not real and increase risk for our friends and neighbors. It is really that simple.”

“Every time you leave home without a facial covering or choose to gather households for a party or crowd into a restaurant or bar, you are making a choice that may impact your entire community,” Frankovich said. “At this time, it is more important than ever that our choices serve to make us more rather than less safe.”

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000. 
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Power Outage Hits Areas of SoHum

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 4:15 PM

A power outage that began about 2:45 p.m. has left over 1,800 without electricity from Whitethorn to Petrolia from the coast to Garberville, according to the PG&E Outage site.

PG&E says they are investigating the cause. They are giving 7 p.m. as the estimated restore time. Those are usually not based on information about the real conditions but based on their normal time to deal with an outage in that area.

UPDATE 4:07 p.m.:

According to Deanna Contreras from PG&E, PG&E crews are working safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to approximately 1569 customers who are without electricity right now.

The outage started at around 2:45, impacting at total of 1700 customers in Garberville, Petrolia, Redway, Whitehorn, Carlotta, and Honeydew. Crews were able to restore power to 131 customers at about 3:15. We are still looking into the cause of the outage. Right now the estimated time power will be restored is about 7pm but that time could change.
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Fortuna Selects New Police Chief Formerly Featured on the Colbert Show

Posted By and on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 3:43 PM

New Fortuna Police Chief Casey Day.
  • New Fortuna Police Chief Casey Day.
The city of Fortuna, whose police department's top job was held most recently by former county Sheriff Mike Downey, announced yesterday the hiring of Sgt. Casey Day, a 19 year veteran of the Anderson Police Department in Shasta County.

According to the city's press release, Day is a former United States Marine with a master's degree in criminal justice from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Simpson University in Redding California. Day's department made national news in 2015 when it announced the force would be outfitting officers with nunchucks as a non-lethal alternative for subduing suspects. Day was interviewed extensively about the decision, and his demonstration of the weapons' use on multiple female reporters went on to be lampooned by Stephen Colbert on the host's late-night show.

Day explained to reporters at the time that the weapons would primarily be used as a control rather than an impact weapon.

In Anderson, Day has also worked under the leadership of Chief Michael Johnson, a former Eureka Police Department Sgt. who was involved in the fatal 2006 shooting of Cheri Lyn Moore. Johnson was reportedly offered the job of EPD chief in 2017 but declined the post after world leaked of the job offer, prompting some local outcry, alleged foot dragging from the city manager and — ultimately — a scathing letter from Johnson withdrawing his name from consideration.

Other than coverage of the nunchucks, there isn't much information about Day online. In 2017, he was one of a handful of Anderson officers honored by the California Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association for recovering stolen vehicles — a February press release from that year notes he'd received his sixth, seventh and eighth pin, with each representing a recovered vehicle.

About a month later, however, a vehicle recovery effort went horribly wrong and put Day at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting at a Motel 6, according to  reporting from the Redding Record-Searchlight.

According to a July 13, 2017, review of the shooting by the Shasta County District Attorney's Office, an officer spotted a stolen rental car during a routine patrol of the Motel 6 parking lot and called for backup. The officer contacted the motel office and learned a man driving the vehicle — Edward Parinella, 53 — had checked in that day. The officer spotted Parinella in the room and obtained a key card from the office and called for backup, prompting Day, a sergeant, and two other officers to respond.

While Day waited in a nearby stairway landing, the other three officers went to Parinella's door, according to the report, and knocked loudly announcing their presence as police officers. They continued to knock and yell for one minute and 38 seconds, according to the report, but got no answer before deciding to open the door with the key and enter the room.

But while in process of opening the door, according to the report, "the officers were immediately confronted by Parinella exiting the room and holding what was later identified as a 9mm semiautomatic handgun." Parinella opened fire and hit one of the officers twice in his kevlar vest, prompting two other officers on scene to fire a total of 19 shots in a matter of seconds, fatally wounding Parinella. Day did not fire his weapon during the incident.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett found the officers acted lawfully in the shooting.

"Mr. Parinella's death, while unfortunate, was a result of his own actions," Bridgett wrote in her report. "The force used by the officers was necessary to protect themselves, each other and the public. Their actions were justified and consistent with the law."

A press release from the city of Fortuna touts Day's focus on community-oriented policing as a reason for his hire, saying he plans to "jump right in and hit the ground running."

Yesterday, Day's wife took to Facebook to celebrate the news.

"I'm so excited I can finally post!," she wrote. "I want to congratulate my handsome husband who has accepted a position as chief of police with the Fortuna Police Department. This has been in the works for a while but due to COVID it has baby stepped its way to July. We are excited to make Fortuna our home and herald in an era of community backed policing and producing a collective vision embodied by all."

Day is slated to take his new post beginning July 6.

See the full press release from the City of Fortuna copied below:

Continue reading »

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Making the Grade: No Bummer Beaches for Humboldt this Year

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 3:12 PM

An exceptional low tide at Luffenholtz Beach near Trinidad. - PHOTO BY MARK A. LARSON
  • Photo by Mark A. Larson
  • An exceptional low tide at Luffenholtz Beach near Trinidad.
Here’s some good news:  Humboldt County’s shores didn't make the “Bummer Beach” list in this year’s Heal the Bay report card on California’s coastline.

Clam Beach has been at the top of list in recent years and Luffenholtz Beach has also made an appearance or two. In fact, the Humboldt report shows above average grades with 80 percent of local beaches receiving an A or B during wet weather while that dropped to 60 percent for the region’s summer grades.

“A day at the beach shouldn’t make anyone sick,” Shelley Luce, President and CEO of Heal the Bay, said in a release. “We are glad to see water quality improving at some beaches, but there are no guarantees."

Find the full report here.

Read the Humboldt County section from the report below: 
HUMBOLDT COUNTY Summer Dry Grades were poor but still above average this year with just 60% of the beaches receiving A and B grades.

Wet Weather Grades were good and far above average this year with 80% of the beaches receiving A and B grades.

Humboldt County does not monitor its beaches in the winter months so there were no Winter Dry Grades and no beaches were eligible for the Honor Roll.

Humboldt County received 36 inches of rain, which is 11% lower than the historical average of 41 inches. Most of the rain fell during the winter months when the beaches are not monitored, so we do not know the full impact of the reduced rainfall.

There was one reported sewage spill that sent 5,300 gallons into the Eel River, which flows into the ocean south of Eureka. No beaches were closed as a result of the spill.

Can't see the PDF in mobile view? Try desktop view.

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PG&E to Talk Power Shutoffs in Webinar for Humboldt, Surrounding Counties

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 2:08 PM

Humboldt Bay Power Plant. - YULIA WEEKS
  • Yulia Weeks
  • Humboldt Bay Power Plant.
PG&E is hosting a webinar tomorrow for residents of Humboldt, Trinity and Siskiyou counties to hear details of its Community Wildlife Safety Program and plans for making any needed Public Safety Power Shutoffs “smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for customers.”

Humboldt was plunged into darkness twice in October when wildfire dangers in other areas led PG&E to pull the plug on grids that power the region. PG&E has since worked to isolate portions of the county from the larger grid in the event of PSPS, a process known as islanding, and using the Humboldt Bay Power Plant.

PG&E declared a May test run of the islanding a success and stated in a release earlier this month that areas that could be powered by the plant include “20 cities and towns such as Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Fortuna as well as some tribal communities.”

Read more here and here and here.

The July 1 seminar is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2AklNhC or by phone at (866) 501-6088 with the conference ID code 6968668.

Read the full PG&E release below:

Continue reading »

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Fortuna Rodeo Canceled Amid COVID

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 11:16 AM

The Fortuna Rodeo Association announced today that the annual event has been canceled this year.

"A lot of time and effort was put in with the hopes of having the rodeo this year," the news release from association President Shannon McWhorter states. "Unfortunately, the current conditions make it unrealistic to hold even a drastically paired down event."

The release thanks the community for its support and encouragement and promises a "bigger and better" event will be back next year to celebrate the rodeo's 100th anniversary. 

Can't see the PDF in mobile view? Try desktop view.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Public Health Announces Four New Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

Posted By and on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 5:14 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.
Humboldt County Public Health confirms four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county total to 133.

Today's test results come after 17 cases were confirmed last week and continue a spike that has seen 28 new local cases since June 12. To date, the county has seen 133 cases, including 15 patients who were hospitalized at some point during their treatment and four who died, all residents at Alder Bay Assisted Living in Eureka. Fourteen cases are currently active.

Last Wednesday saw nine cases confirmed — matching the county's single day high set back in early April — as well as one in a Humboldt County resident who had been residing in Trinity County for two weeks. Five new cases were confirmed Thursday, followed by two more Friday. The spike comes as Humboldt County continues to re-open various aspects of the local economy, most recently announcing that gyms, bars and movie theaters could begin opening as soon as Friday if they have safety plans in place certified by the county.

To date, 79 of Humboldt County's cases are believed to trace back to a known contact with someone confirmed to have the virus, 27 are believed to have been acquired through travel out of the area and 23 are believed to be the result of community transition, meaning the person who tested positive had no known contacts to another case and had not traveled outside the local area. The origins of four cases remain under investigation.

Nationally, 2.4 million cases have been confirmed with 124,325 deaths, including 200,461 cases in California, including 5,812 fatalities. California's numbers have been rising sharply in recent days, with 4,890 new cases confirmed Wednesday alone.

Continue reading »

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Paycheck Protection Program to Close to New Applicants Tomorrow

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The North Coast Small Businesses Development Center announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will close to new applicants tomorrow.

"The Paycheck Protection Program closes to new applications TOMORROW Tuesday, June 30.  If you haven’t yet applied, please note the PPP loan shuts down to new applications by the end of Tuesday, June 30. Some lenders have already closed applications so if you need help finding a lender contact infor@asksbdc.com," reads a release.

Read more about the Paycheck Protection Program here.

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