Monday, November 16, 2020

Sharp COVID Case Increase Continues

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 3:42 PM

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Public Health reported 29 COVID-19 cases since Friday, which meets the county's single day record set last week. Another hospitalization was also confirmed.

That comes after 53 cases were verified last week, the most recorded in that time period locally since the pandemic began. So far this month, the county has confirmed 116 cases after seeing 59 in all of October.

With the recent rapid rise in cases here and across the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom raised the risk tiers of multiple counties, including Humboldt, which this afternoon skipped right over the orange, or "moderate" risk tier, and straight into the red zone, or "substantial" risk category.

That will mean a host of new restrictions for many business across the region, starting tomorrow. (Read more here.)

County health officials have been warning residents for weeks that Humboldt teetered on the edge of maintaining its previous place in the "minimal" tier and warn that the recent unprecedented spread is due mainly to folk traveling out of town or hosting out-of-town guests as well as indoor gatherings of multiple households. This with Thanksgiving just around the corner.

“We need to reduce interactions between people who don’t already live together, and we need to do it now,” County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said in a news release earlier today. “Travel to visit family and friends as well as bringing out-of-town guests into our homes is driving about half of our cases.”

She added that gatherings occurring indoors between multiple households are contributing “enormously” to local case counts.

Last week, the California Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory strongly discouraging non-essential travel and urging residents to stay close to home when possible. Those who do travel into the state are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, and local officials are asking anyone who leaves Humboldt County to do the same after their return.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 836 samples.

To date, 687 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 40 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and 10 confirmed COVID-related fatalities.

Humboldt currently has an adjusted case rate of 4.8 — which the state describes as a seven-day average of daily cases with a seven-day lag time of daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people — and a positivity rate of 2.0 percent. Overall, the state stands at a case rate of 16.5 per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 5.0 percent.

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.

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.

Read the county's release below:

Twenty-nine additional cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Friday, bringing to 687 the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Humboldt County today was assigned to the “red” or substantial tier under the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” with case and positivity rates of 4.8 and 2.0% respectively. Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich pointed out the state is responding to the fastest increase in cases and hospitalizations seen since California recorded its first case of COVID-19.

“There is justifiable concern about local data, and our trends are heading in the wrong direction,” Dr. Frankovich said. “It’s important to know that no single measure will help us through this current outbreak. Instead, it will take collective effort to slow the spread of this virus. We need every one of our friends and neighbors to limit non-essential travel, wear a mask and stay physically distanced at all times when not with someone from your household. These are the best ways to keep our families and our community overall as safe as possible.”

To read more about the local impacts of this tier assignment, go to humboldtgov.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=3442.

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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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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