Monday, July 27, 2020

County Sets Grim Record with 12 new COVID-19 Cases Confirmed Today

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 5:04 PM

Humboldt County set a single-day record with a dozen new confirmed COVID-19 cases announced by Public Health, continuing a spike that has now seen 84 cases confirmed this month.

The county's previous single-day high for confirmed cases was nine, reached twice, first April 2 then again June 24. Since the county started announcing daily test results March 16, it has announced six or more cases in a single day just eight times. Four of those have come since July 15.  For further perspective, the dozen cases announced today are as many as the county recorded in total during the first 23 days in June.

Today's results come after 285 samples were tested, and are the first results announced since Friday's.

In a press release, the county noted that of the 28 cases confirmed since last Monday, only two were in people over the age of 50, prompting Humboldt County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich to remind that the long-term impacts of the disease are still largely unknown, even for people in good health.

“We’ve seen many positive cases associated with gatherings of friends and related to travel,” Frankovich said in the release. “I’d ask everyone to consider their own health and the health of their loved ones, especially those who are medically vulnerable before getting together with friends. It’s vital that we all do what we can to limit spread of this virus.”

During her media availability Friday, after watching a total of 24 cases confirmed last week, prompting the county to raise the overall alert level to 3, Frankovich also warned that travel and multi-household social gatherings continue to be the primary drivers of local cases.

"A big driver of our local cases is related to both travel or gatherings, and sometimes the two of those combined," she said. "And all of it goes to increase the circulation and prevalence of virus in our community."

The county alert level — which ranges from Level 1 to Level 4 — is based on three factors officials believe help gauge individual and community risk: the rate of spread of COVID-19 illness, local healthcare capacity and the effectiveness of disease control efforts, like quarantine, testing and contact investigations.
(Watch Humboldt County Deputy Public Health Officer Josh Ennis explain the assessment in the video here and take questions from the media about it here.)

Level 3 is described as: "High risk — many cases with conditions for community spread, with many undetected cases likely. Limit everyday activities to increase safety."

According to a press release, the county's alert level raised Friday due to recent increases in case counts per 100,000 residents measured over a 14-day period. (Humboldt had seen 44 total cases confirmed over the previous 14 days, or roughly 32 per 100,000 residents, though it's now recorded 52 cases over the past 14 days, roughly 38.5 per 100,000 residents.) Although the increase by itself is not enough to place Humboldt County on the state’s monitoring list, which would trigger additional business closures and modifications, Frankovich expressed concern in a press release over this recent trend and said it needs to change.

“It becomes increasingly important right now that people are actually helping by using facial coverings, social distancing, hand sanitizing and staying close to home,” Frankovich said in the release. “In order to bring our case rate down, protect our community and allow us to remain off the county monitoring list, we really need to cooperate as a community and drop those numbers.”

Humboldt County spike of 84 new case confirmed this month comes as rates of infection and hospitalizations have surged elsewhere in the state and nation. Nationwide, 4.2 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed (61,795 of them today), including 146,546 fatalities. California is also seeing a surge in cases, confirming 8,259 new ones yesterday for a total of 453,659 to date, including 8,416 deaths.

To date, the county has seen 217 local cases, including 17 hospitalizations and four fatalities, all of them of residents at Alder Bay Assisted Living.

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.

Today's results came after 160 tests were processed and follow Gov. Gavin Newsom's announcement July 17 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. 

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 27, 2020 - Twelve New Cases Reported
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 7pm Opens in new window
Humboldt County’s total COVID-19 case count rose to 217, as 12 additional cases have been reported. While this is the largest single-day increase since the outbreak began, today’s report includes all new cases since Friday’s report.

Since last Monday’s update of case distribution by age, 28 cases have been diagnosed locally. Two of those were reported in people over the age of 50, while 26 were between the ages of 0 and 49.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich pointed out that the long-term impacts of COVID-19 are unknown even for relatively healthy people. “We’ve seen many positive cases associated with gatherings of friends and related to travel,” Dr. Frankovich said. “I’d ask everyone to consider their own health and the health of their loved ones, especially those who are medically vulnerable before getting together with friends. It’s vital that we all do what we can to limit spread of this virus.”

Today’s alert level stands at a three. Visit humboldtgov.org/dashboard to view the county’s Alert Level Assessment tool.

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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