Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Public Health Confirms Six New COVID-19 Cases

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 4:16 PM

Humboldt County's spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases continues, as Public Health announced another six today, making 14 this week and total of 62 so far in July, by far the most recorded in any month since the pandemic hit the North Coast.

The 14 cases so far this week come after the county confirmed 16 — and another hospitalization — last week. To date, the county has seen 195 local cases, including 17 hospitalizations and four fatalities.

The spike in confirmed cases also comes as Humboldt County has seen growing challenges with testing. The OptumServe testing site set up at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds through a partnership with the state has been a growing source of frustration, as a huge increase in statewide demand and supply chain issues have caused regular delays of a week or more in getting test results. These delays pose problems for contact investigators and public health officials looking to contain clusters of the virus.

Nonetheless, Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said in a  press release today that it remains important for residents — even those without symptoms — to get tested for the virus.

“Some of our more recent cases have been individuals tested through commercial laboratories collected either at the OptumServe site in Eureka or their provider’s office, so we want to encourage people who are not experiencing symptoms to sign up for a test at Optum,” she said in the release. “Individuals with symptoms, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, should reach out to their primary care provider or to the Joint Information Center if they do not have a provider so they can be tested. Ill individuals should seek emergency care if symptoms become severe.”

Today's results came after 133 tests were processed and follow Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement Friday further tightening shelter-in-place restrictions for vast swaths of the state, ordering that schools remain shuttered in counties on the state's COVID-19 watch list until counties are off the list for 14 consecutive days. The list — which tracks infection rates, hospital capacity and public health's ability to limit the spread of outbreaks — does not currently include Humboldt County, though officials warned last week that case spikes have put it in jeopardy of being added.

On July 13, Newsom announced one of the first major walk-back of post shutdown re-opening in the country, ordering all bars to shutter and restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, museums and wineries to cease all indoor operations.

The county unveiled a new "overall alert level" risk assessment tool as a part of its dashboard last Thursday, putting the county at "Level 2," which means "moderate risk — moderate number of cases with majority of cases from a known source. Increase efforts to limit personal exposure." The levels stretch from 1 —("New normal — cases are somewhat sporadic, and contact tracing can be used to control the virus") to Level 4 ("Very high risk — widespread outbreak that is growing with many undetected cases."). Watch Humboldt County Deputy Public Health Officer Josh Ennis explain the assessment in the video here.

Nationwide, 3.8 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, including 140,630 fatalities, as cases are surging with an average of more than 60,000 new cases confirmed daily over the past week. California, meanwhile, which saw a single-day record 11,126 new cases confirmed July 14, has now recorded 400,769 cases (including 9,231 announced today) and 7,755 fatalities.

To date, 17 local residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19 at some point in their care, including four people who died of the disease, all residents of Alder Bay Assisted Living.

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 and view its case dashboard here:
July 21, 2020 - Six New Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 7pm Opens in new window
Humboldt County’s count of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 195, after six additional cases were reported today.

Today’s alert level stands at a two and has remained unchanged since the tool was launched Thursday. This is due, in part, to a high demand for testing and testing supplies nationwide, according to Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich.

Dr. Frankovich said that even with an increased demand on testing and the slower turnaround time right now, screening for the virus is still a useful public health tool. “Some of our more recent cases have been individuals tested through commercial laboratories collected either at the OptumServe site in Eureka or their provider’s office, so we want to encourage people who are not experiencing symptoms to sign up for a test at Optum,” she said. “Individuals with symptoms, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, should reach out to their primary care provider or to the Joint Information Center if they do not have a provider so they can be tested. Ill individuals should seek emergency care if symptoms become severe.”

Visit LHI.care/covidtesting or call 888-634-1123 to make an appointment at the OptumServe site at Redwood Acres in Eureka. Please note only available appointments will be shown on the website. If no time slots are available, check back to schedule.

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.


Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/dashboard,
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19,
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19,
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert


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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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