Monday, November 30, 2020

Humboldt on Cusp of 900 COVID Cases

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 4:49 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reports 48 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed since Friday. Five more hospitalizations were also reported.

The, yet another, record-setting number comes on the heels of a record 122 cases last week, which overshadowed the previous week's record setting 71. All of October saw 59 cases. This month recorded 328 positive tests.

The county's steady escalation of cases has Humboldt in the state's purple "widespread" risk tier, along with most of California's 58 counties, bringing new layers of restrictions on local businesses.

While the state had a case rate of 30.5 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 6.6 percent as of Nov. 28, Humboldt had an adjusted case rate of 7.7 per 100,000 and a 2.8 percent positivity rate.

But, officials are still bracing for what is expected to be a torrent of positive tests following the Thanksgiving holiday, pushing healthcare capacities on the local, state and national level to the brink.

Humboldt County's new purple status has forced restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship to cease all indoor operations, while also imposing the governor's nighttime shelter-in-place order, which requires residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. save for essential outings, such as going to work.

In response to the local surge, Public Health is changing its contact investigations process to meet the demands of rapidly increasing case counts, a news release states.

Humboldt County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich has been urging Humboldt residents not to travel, invite out-of-town guests or gather outside their household in an effort to slow the country's rapid COVID spike. She has also recommended against in-person classes at local schools for two weeks following the holiday.

“Whether you gathered indoors here at home or somewhere outside of Humboldt County, the safest option is to act as if you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19,”  Frankovich said in a news release. “That means you should monitor yourself and your family members carefully for symptoms. If symptoms develop, please get tested and isolate at home until you receive a negative test result.”
Residents of California counties in the state’s purple — or “widespread” COVID-19 risk tier — are currently under a limited stay-at-home order issued by Newsom which prohibits “non-essential work, movement and gatherings” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that it will continue to "prioritized education and voluntary compliance, rather than criminal enforcement of health orders."

The state of California largely depends on two metrics to determine where a county falls in its tier system: the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered that come back positive over a seven-day period and the average number of new positive cases confirmed per 100,000 in population daily over the course of a week. Both have spiked locally over the course of the last month.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 824 samples.

To date, 898 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 48 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and nine confirmed COVID-related fatalities.

The county is encouraging those who are asymptomatic to sign up for a free COVID test at the OptumServe site in Eureka. Appointments can be made by calling 888-634-1123 or visit lhi.care/covidtesting. Starting today, the testing will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week.

The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county.

After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.

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.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the number of COVID cases confirmed in November.
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UPDATE: State AG Closes Probe into Public Administrator's Office

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 4:44 PM

The California Attorney General’s Office has indicated it will not pursue criminal charges following an investigation into the handling of estates overseen by the county’s Public Administrator’s Office that began in August of 2017.

The Public Administrator’s Office, which came under the umbrella of the Humboldt Sheriff’s Office following a merger with the coroner’s office in 2015, manages the assets of individuals who die without a will or someone to oversee their holdings.

Their property — ranging from cars and houses to collectables and furniture — is sold by the office with the proceeds going to any heirs. If there are none, the money is sent to the state.

According to a news release from the district attorney's office, an unsigned letter sent to Humboldt County officials in June of 2017 raised questions about purchases involving current and former employees of either the sheriff’s office, the coroner’s office or the public administrator’s office. The next month the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office asked the state to step in. (Read more here.)

The district attorney’s office received a letter from the state’s Attorney General’s Office on Nov. 23 stating the investigation was closed after an “exhaustive review” and cited “significant steps” by the sheriff’s office to “increase controls and accountability.”

"We recognize the errors that were made in the past handling of Public Administrator cases and have taken the following actions to ensure that the Public Administrator division of our organization adheres to the California Probate Code and the Government Code," a sheriff's office release state, listing changes made to operations.

Those changes include, "a weekly review of all open Public Administrator cases to ensure accuracy" and updates to the "Public Administrator policy and procedures manual."

"The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is committed to carrying out our responsibilities to the community ethically and with accountability," the sheriff's office release states. "We are constantly striving for progress and continue to review our policies and procedures as we work toward our mission to protect an serve our community and earn the public’s trust through compassion and accountability."

Read the full HCSO release here.
Read the release from the District Attorney’s Office below:
On November 23, 2020, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office received a letter (attached) from the State Attorney General (AG), indicating the AG will not pursue charges following their investigation into the prior conduct of the former Humboldt County Coroner-Public Administrator’s Office.

The need for an investigation arose in June 2017, when Humboldt County officials received an unsigned letter questioning the way the Coroner-Public Administrator had disposed of property belonging to deceased persons. In July 2017, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office requested assistance from the FBI, with the idea that the FBI’s experience with public corruption cases and available resources might lead to an effective and timely investigation.

Also in July 2017, the Humboldt County District Attorney requested the State AG take the case due to possible perception of a conflict of interest. The FBI declined to be involved, but the State AG agreed in August 2017 to assume the investigation and any subsequent prosecution.
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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Light Up a Life Goes Virtual This Year

Posted By on Sun, Nov 29, 2020 at 2:41 PM

MARY ISIS SINGING BY THE MEMORIAL ALTAR AT 2019 LIGHT UP A LIFE CEREMONY
  • Mary Isis singing by the memorial altar at 2019 Light Up a Life Ceremony
Hospice of Humboldt's annual observance celebrating loved ones, the Light Up a Life Remembrance Ceremony, will not be held in person this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Instead, the warm community tradition will be televised on Access Humboldt’s Channel 11 on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. (as well as available for viewing through Hospice of Humboldt’s website and Facebook and YouTube pages).

The 2020 virtual Light Up a Life Remembrance Ceremony will still incorporate all the feel-good elements of past ceremonies when families and friends could gather togther, including reflections from Hospice speakers as well as music from Elizabeth Smith, Mary Isis, the Threshold Choir, and by Hospice Chaplain Taylor Hagbo. Submitted names of loved ones will be also displayed as part of the candle lighting and blessing.
COMMEMORATIVE BRICK ON HEART OF HOSPICE PATH AT HOSPICE OF HUMBOLDT.
  • Commemorative brick on Heart of Hospice Path at Hospice of Humboldt.
Community members are invited to celebrate a loved one with a personalized brick on the Heart of Hospice Path or by making a donation in their name.
For more on that or for more information about the Light Up a Life ceremony, call 445-8443 or visit www.hospiceofhumboldt.org.
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Friday, November 27, 2020

HumCo Public Health Confirms 31 New Cases, Making a Record 122 for the Week

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2020 at 2:03 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported 31 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases from today and yesterday, making a record 122 for the week, which far out-passed last week's record setting 71.

And the 122 cases confirmed this week more than double's October's total of 59. The county also reported two new hospitalizations today.

The county's continued surge in cases has landed Humboldt in the state's purple "widespread" risk tier, bringing new layers of restrictions on local businesses.

Having confirmed 280 cases to date in November, officials are bracing for what is expected to be a deluge of positive tests following the Thanksgiving holiday, pushing healthcare capacities on the local, state and national level to the brink.

Humboldt County's new purple status has forced restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship to cease all indoor operations, while also imposing the governor's nighttime shelter-in-place order, which requires residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. save for essential outings.

In response to the local surge, Public Health is changing its contact investigations process to meet the demands of rapidly increasing case counts, a news release states.

Eureka, meanwhile, has closed City Hall to the public until further notice.

Humboldt County Health Officer Frankovich has been urging Humboldt residents not to travel, invite out-of-town guests or gather outside their household in an effort to slow the country's rapid COVID spike while there is still time. She has also recommended against in-person classes at local schools for two weeks following the holiday.

Residents of California counties in the state’s purple — or “widespread” COVID-19 risk tier — are currently under a limited stay-at-home order issued by Newsom which prohibits “non-essential work, movement and gatherings” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that it will continue to "prioritized education and voluntary compliance, rather than criminal enforcement of health orders."

The state of California largely depends on two metrics to determine where a county falls in its tier system: the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered that come back positive over a seven-day period and the average number of new positive cases confirmed per 100,000 in population daily over the course of a week. Both have spiked locally over the course of the last month.

While the taste had a case rate of 24.9 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 6.2 percent for the weekend ending Nov. 18, Humboldt had an adjusted case rate of 6.1 per 100,000 and a 2.3 percent positivity rate. This week's numbers look for bleaker, with the county having confirmed a daily average of 12.9 new cases over a seven-day period with a test-positivity rate of 4.7 percent.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 815 samples with a test-positivity rate of 3.8 percent.

To date, 850 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 43 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and nine confirmed COVID-related fatalities.

Nationwide, 12.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed — including 165,282 yesterday — with 259,005 deaths, including nearly 2,000 yesterday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Over the past week, the nation has seen a daily average of 52 cases confirmed per 100,000 in population. California, meanwhile, has confirmed 1.2 million cases (including 14,640 yesterday) with 18,979 fatalities, according to the Department of Public Health.

The county is encouraging those who are asymptomatic to sign up for a free COVID test at the OptumServe site in Eureka. Appointments can be made by calling 888-634-1123 or visit lhi.care/covidtesting.

Beginning Monday, testing will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week. Appointments for these new time slots are available now, according to the county's release.

The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county.

After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Major Damage in C Street Fire

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2020 at 4:11 PM

humboldt_bay_fire.jpg
One person received minor injuries in a house fire on the 1400 block of C Street in Eureka just before 12:30 p.m. today but everyone inside was able to self-evacuate what is initially believed to be electrical fire, according to Humboldt Bay Fire.

Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the second story of the home when they arrived and a second alarm was requested due to the size of the structure and its balloon-frame construction, which allows fire to spread in concealed spaces, according to a news release.

"Fire crews controlled the fire in 15 minutes. The first floor had significant smoke and water damage with heavy fire damage on the second floor," the release states. "Damage was estimated at $100,000. The cause of the fire was undetermined; however, an electrical malfunction is suspected at this time."

The Red Cross is assisting the home's five residents.

Humboldt Bay Fire noted that crews had to contend with traffic while battling the fire.

"Humboldt Bay Fire would like to remind people to avoid areas with emergency vehicles with flashing lights," the release states. "Several vehicles maneuvered around fire vehicles at the scene and jeopardized personnel who were engaged in firefighting operations."

Read the Humboldt Bay Fire release below:
On 11/26/2020 at 12:28 P.M. Humboldt Bay Fire was dispatched to a structure fire in the 1400 Block of C Street. First arriving fire units found heavy smoke coming from the second floor of a two-story residential structure. A second alarm was requested due to the size and construction type of the structure.

Balloon-frame construction allows fire to spread through concealed spaces quickly. Fire personnel attacked the fire and searched the structure for any occupants that might still be inside. All occupants had self-evacuated and were located outside. One of the occupants was found to have minor injuries and was evaluated by fire personnel. The occupant declined further treatment.

Additional arriving units ventilated the structure as interior crews fought the fire. Eureka Police responded to assist as initial fire units were being hindered by traffic flow in the area. The immediate area around the 1400 Block C Street was shut down for approximately one hour.

Fire crews controlled the fire in fifteen minutes. The first floor had significant smoke and water damage with heavy fire damage on the second floor. Damage was estimated at $100,000. The cause of the fire was undetermined; however, an electrical malfunction is suspected at this time.

Humboldt Bay Fire wishes to thank Arcata Fire District, Samoa Fire District, and Loleta Fire District who responded to Eureka to assist with coverage of Humboldt Bay Fire’s area. The Red Cross was requested to assist with housing of five displaced occupants.

Humboldt Bay Fire would like to remind people to avoid areas with emergency vehicles with flashing lights. Several vehicles maneuvered around fire vehicles at the scene and jeopardized personnel who were engaged in firefighting operations. 
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Three COVID Cases Reported in Hoopa

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2020 at 11:41 AM

The Hoopa Valley Tribal Office of Emergency Services COVID-19 Incident Management Team reported three new COVID-19 cases from the K'ima:w Medical Center today, bringing the total to 61, with 58 considered recovered.

"Traveling outside of the area, or having close contact with those who are not in our immediate households continue to be our biggest challenge," a Facebook posts on the results states. "Staying home, using masks, social distancing and good hand hygiene are our best protection methods."

More information can be found at https://hoopaoes.org.

Three new cases were reported by K'ima:w Medical Center today. To clarify, there were no new cases reported to OES...

Posted by Hoopa Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services on Thursday, November 26, 2020
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Yurok Tribe Strikes 'Unparalleled Partnership' to Distribute Beer to SoCal Casino

Posted By on Thu, Nov 26, 2020 at 10:33 AM

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The Yurok Tribe has struck a deal that it is casting as revitalizing a pre-colonization trade system adapted for the 21st century.

Under the deal, the tribe’s Mad River Brewing Co. — one of the first tribally owned breweries in the country — will distribute its beer to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ casino near Los Angeles.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to do business with one of the most successful tribes in the nation,” Yurok Chair Joseph James said in a press release. “Our unparalleled partnership is a prime example of how tribes can lift each other up in the 21st century. The Yurok Tribe and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians couldn’t have a closer relationship, even though we are 1,000 miles apart.”

The press release notes that the Yurok Tribe — California’s largest — is in desperate need of economic development, with an unemployment rate higher than 30 percent and a median family income of $28,300, less than half the national average. Many tribal members depend on tribal services, which are funded through grants and the tribe’s business ventures, according to a press release.

“That is why this business arrangement with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is so important for the Tribe. The proceeds generated from this partnership will fund essential services for the Yurok people,” James said in the release. “In addition to bolstering the tribe’s social safety net, participating in intertribal commerce is putting us back in a position to decide our own fate.”

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chair Ken Ramirez said the new pact is also consistent with both tribes’ histories and cultures.

“Since time immemorial, we maintained sophisticated trade routes that extended well beyond our respective aboriginal territories,” Ramirez said in the release. “Now, we are creating a modernized version of this traditional economic system to meet the needs of our citizens. Before colonization, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Yurok Tribe maintained complex economic structures that allowed for environmentally responsible uses of our lands and natural resources.”

See the full press release copied below:


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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Humboldt COVID Cases Still Rising

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 4:16 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported 18 additional COVID-19 cases today, making a record 91 so far this week, breaking last week's 71 mark and closing in on nearly double October's monthlong total of 59.

The county's continued surge in cases has landed Humboldt in the state's purple "widespread" risk tier, bringing new layers of restrictions on local businesses.

"Today, Humboldt County’s local case rate stands at 8.6 per 100,000 residents, well over the 7.0 required for movement into the “Purple” tier," a county news release states. "Public Health calculates the local case rate based on the most current case information, which accounts for the difference between the state-posted rate and the county’s on any given day."

November now stands at around than 250 cases and officials are bracing for what is expected to be a deluge of positive tests following the Thanksgiving holiday, pushing healthcare capacities on the local, state and national level to the brink.

Humboldt County's new purple status will force restaurants, movie theaters and laces of worship to cease all indoor operations, while also imposing the governor's nighttime shelter-in-place order, which requires residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. save for essential outings.

"We are truly in the midst of a surge here in California," the state's Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said during a press conference Tuesday announcing the new tier levels and urging residents not to mix households during the Thanksgiving holiday.

"These are the things we have to do to protect our friends and family because we love them," he added.

In response to the local surge, Public Health is changing its contact investigations process to meet the demands of rapidly increasing case counts, a news release states.

Eureka, meanwhile, has closed City Hall to the public until further notice.

Due to an increasing number of cases of COVID-19 within our community, City Hall will be closed to the general public...

Posted by City of Eureka on Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Frankovich has also been urging Humboldt residents not to travel, invite out-of-town guests or gather outside their household in an effort to slow the country's rapid COVID spike while there is still time. She has also recommended against in-person classes for two weeks following the holiday.

Residents of California counties in the state’s purple — or “widespread” COVID-19 risk tier — are currently under a limited stay-at-home order issued by Newsom which prohibits “non-essential work, movement and gatherings” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post that it will continue to "prioritized education and voluntary compliance, rather than criminal enforcement of health orders."

The state of California largely depends on two metrics to determine where a county falls in its tier system: the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered that come back positive over a seven-day period and the average number of new positive cases confirmed per 100,000 in population daily over the course of a week. Both have spiked locally over the course of the last month.

Under the latest state data, Humboldt has an adjusted case rate of 6.1 per 100,000 and a 2.3 percent positivity rate. The state, in comparison, has a case rate of 24.9 and a positivity rate of 6.2 percent.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 314 samples.

To date, 819 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 41 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and nine confirmed COVID-related fatalities.

The county is encouraging those who are asymptomatic to sign up for a free COVID test at the OptumServe site in Eureka. Appointments can be made by calling 888-634-1123 or visit lhi.care/covidtesting.

Beginning Monday, Nov. 30, testing will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week. Appointments for these new time slots are available now, according to the county's release.

The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county.

After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.


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Eureka Man Killed in SR 36 Crash

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 2:55 PM

A 34-year-old Eureka man was killed yesterday morning in a single car, rollover crash on State Route 36 near the Dinsmore Airport, according to the CHP.

A news release states Shawn Kelly Ryan suffered major injuries and died at the scene.

“A preliminary investigation by CHP revealed that Mr. Ryan was driving his 2002 GMC pickup westbound on SR-36 when he allowed the truck to travel off the road, overturn and collide with a tree,” the release states.

The crash, which occurred just before 11 a.m., remains under investigation.

Read the CHP release below: 
On 11-24-2020, at approximately 10:55 AM, the Humboldt Area CHP received a call of a vehicle rollover on SR-36 near Mile Post Marker 41.90, near the Dinsmore Airport.

Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and provided life saving efforts to the sole occupant of the vehicle, 34 year old Shawn Ryan of Eureka. However, Mr. Ryan suffered major injuries as a result of the collision and succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

The Humboldt County Coroner's office responded to the scene and subsequently made notification to the next of kin.

A preliminary investigation by CHP revealed that Mr. Ryan was driving his 2002 GMC pickup westbound on SR-36 when he allowed the truck to travel off the road, overturn and collide with a tree. Mr. Ryan suffered fatal injuries as a result of this collision.

Impairment is being investigated as a contributing factor in this collision. The CHP Humboldt Area Office is continuing its investigation into this collision and asks anyone who may have information to contact the Humboldt Area CHP Office at 707-822-5981.
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California’s COVID-19 Vaccine Plan

Posted By and on Wed, Nov 25, 2020 at 12:02 PM

ISTOCK
  • iStock
California is in the throes of another COVID-19 surge — cases are skyrocketing and hospital beds are filling up quickly. On Tuesday, hospitals had 3,300 more COVID patients than at the beginning of this month, state health officials said.

But a glimmer of hope has emerged in the last leg of 2020: The first batch of vaccines could arrive in early December.

On Friday, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that it had requested approval for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Pfizer’s vaccine has shown an efficacy of 95% against COVID-19 “with no serious safety concerns observed to date,” said Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO.

Moderna’s vaccine has similar results. AstraZeneca announced Monday that its vaccine was, on average, 70% effective.

Distribution details are still developing, and it remains unclear how many doses California will get before the year’s end.

Dr. Frances Collins, director at the National Institutes of Health, has said that if all goes to plan, he expects 40 million doses to become available nationwide in December.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are first in line, require two doses, meaning 20 million people could be vaccinated that month.

California gets just a slice of that. Manufacturers and the federal government will likely distribute doses based on state conditions and population size, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary.

“So California should get a significant and even the highest amount of vaccination based on those distribution plans,” he said Tuesday.

So when can most people expect to get one? How much will it cost? And how much longer will Californians be urged to wear a mask?

Here’s what we know so far about the state’s vaccine rollout.

If you’re not a health worker, don’t expect a vaccine soon

Initial vaccine supply will be limited.

To help decide who gets a vaccine first, the state is adopting a three-phase plan from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s plan will guide counties, which will be in charge of on-the-ground coordination.

So far, we know that health workers and first responders who are likely to treat or be exposed to COVID-19 patients will go first.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would first target 2.4 million health care workers. Those workers are also being divided into subgroups, in case of a shortage in the first rounds. Health workers will be followed by those living in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, along with other essential workers and people who are at higher risk of falling severely ill, including people 65 and over.

The definition of an essential worker in the distribution guidance has not yet been determined, Ghaly said. Teachers, for example, will be a priority so that children can return to school, he said. But where exactly teachers and others will fall in the state’s priority ranking will be decided in coming weeks.

Health workers will be followed by those living in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, along with other essential workers and people who are at higher risk of falling severely ill, including people 65 and over. Everyone else will likely have to wait a few more months.

“Mass vaccination is unlikely to occur anytime soon,” Newsom said.

Public health officials have estimated broader vaccine availability will come in the spring. State health officials have appointed more than 65 advocacy, labor and businesses organizations to a new community advisory committee to help ensure that the vaccine is distributed equitably.

“The point of having all these groups at the table is to avoid blind spots,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, one of the committee member organizations. “If we’re not mindful of our most vulnerable populations, we’re undermining our efforts to (control) this pandemic.”

Cost shouldn’t be an issue

Out-of-pocket costs for a COVID-19 vaccine are likely to be low, if anything at all. According to the CDC, doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be free. Providers, however, can charge for administering the vaccine, which insurance would cover.

“For those who are uninsured and those in the Medicaid program, they should rest assured…the state is going to step in and make sure that the cost of vaccination in no way gets in the way of someone’s decision to be vaccinated,” Ghaly said on Tuesday.

California has ‘second set of eyes’ on vaccines’ safety

Last month, Newsom announced that the state would form its own panel of experts to review efficacy and safety data of any vaccine candidate.

California’s experts have already reviewed the first two phases of clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and have no concerns so far, Newsom said on Monday.

His panel will review Phase 3 data within 24 hours of it becoming available, he added, noting that the state’s review process would not slow vaccine distribution. This process is in addition to the FDA’s review.

The idea behind the work group, made up of public health and immunization experts from across the state, is to instill trust among the public, Newsom has said.

Still, challenges lie ahead

If people are looking to buy stocks, dry ice would be a good investment, said Dr. Rais Vohra, Fresno County’s interim health officer. That’s because counties and health care providers are scrambling to get their hands on both ultra-cold freezers and dry ice to help store Pfizer’s vaccine, which needs to be kept at minus 70 degree Celsius — that’s extremely cold.

“Not a lot of those freezers exist,” Vohra said. “The flu vaccine doesn’t need to be ultra-cold.”

Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a standard freezer.

Primary care doctors and other community providers may not be able to offer the first vaccines available because they may not have the freezers needed to store it, Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 testing officer, told county supervisors at a meeting earlier this month.

Newsom said the state is looking to acquire 16 ultra-cold temperature freezers and 61 smaller freezers. He said the state already has identified regions to distribute these freezers, focusing on more rural areas that might have a hard time obtaining their own. Hospitals seeking their own freezers are already bumping into supply issues.

“They are in many cases back-ordered until the spring,” said David Simon, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association.

Yes, you’ll likely still have to wear a mask after you get a vaccine

No vaccine candidate is 100 percent effective. And experts say while a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to protect you from serious illness, it remains to be seen whether it will keep you from passing the virus to someone else.

Scientists also don’t know yet how long a vaccine’s protection will last. The three leading vaccine candidates all require two shots, spaced a few weeks apart, so you won’t be fully protected after your first dose.

You’ll want to continue to wear a mask to protect others until most people are fully immunized — and that could take many months.

“While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others,” the CDC notes.

Beware of misinformation

Public health experts worry about misinformation, spread widely on social media by anti-vaccine activists and others, that has led some Americans to fear the coming vaccines.

The politicization of vaccine development also has contributed to distrust.

A Gallup poll conducted in October found that about 58 percent of Americans would agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccine, compared to just 50 percent in September.

In California, about half of Republicans said they would “definitely or probably” get the vaccine compared to about 56 percent of Democrats or independents, according to an October poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Demographics matter, too: In that poll, only about 30 percent of African-Americans said they would get vaccinated, compared to about 62 percent of whites.

The CDC offers advice for finding credible online information on vaccines in general and more specific information on COVID vaccine safety. The New York Times’ Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker also offers frequent updates on vaccine progress.

CalMatters COVID-19 coverage, translation and distribution is supported by generous grants from the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation and the California Health Care Foundation.
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