Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Public Health Confirms 17 New COVID-19 Cases as Spike Continues

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 1:48 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 17 new COVID-19 cases, making a record 73 already this week, and continuing a case surge that today landed the county in the state's purple "widespread" risk tier, bringing new layers of restrictions on local businesses.

Today's report comes after Public Health reported yesterday that 56 cases — a single-day reporting record — had been confirmed since Friday, which came on the heels of 71 cases confirmed last week, which set what proved to be a short-lived record for cases confirmed in a single week. The entire month of October saw 59 cases.

Now November stands at more than 230 cases . Also, with Thanksgiving just days away, public health officers fear an even more substantial spike in COVID cases will hit Humboldt, as well as the state and the nation, pushing healthcare capacities to the brink.

“We all have to take action to slow the spread of this virus, which will allow us to move into a less restrictive tier and still protect each other and our health care system capacity,” Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said in a press release.

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 today announcing the new tier levels and urging residents not to mix households during the Thanksgiving holiday.

"A no is a no and it is important," Ghaly said, noting he appreciates how hard these conversations can be with friends and relatives who still want to have a traditional celebration.

"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, the release states.

Frankovich and her counterparts on the state and national level have been urging the 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.

Last week, Humboldt's was catapulted from a "minimal" risk ranking, right over "moderate" and into the state's "substantial" risk category, when Gov. Gavin Newsom raised the risk tiers of multiple California counties. Now, the purple tier seems unavoidable.

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 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 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. (Since Friday, Humboldt County has seen an average of 13.5 cases confirmed daily per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 4.9 percent.)

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 314 samples with a test positivity rate of 5.4 percent.

To date, 801 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. According to a state database, four local residents are currently hospitalized with the virus, with another five hospitalized who are suspected to have it.

Humboldt County's surge comes as caseloads as soaring throughout the nation and the state. Nationally, 12.3 million cases have been confirmed to date, including 157,531 yesterday, with 257,016 fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control. California, meanwhile, has seen 1.1 million cases — including 8,337 confirmed yesterday — with 18,726 deaths, 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.

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.
Nov. 24, 2020 - 17 New Cases; County in Purple Tier; Stay at Home Order Starts Wednesday

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
17 New Cases Reported Today;
State Assigns Humboldt County to Purple Tier;
Limited Stay at Home Order Takes Effect Wednesday


A total of 801 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 17 new cases were reported today. A previously reported hospitalization was removed after it was determined the individual had not been admitted to the hospital.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today assigned Humboldt County to the widespread or “Purple” tier under the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” According to CDPH, the county’s positivity rate and adjusted case rate are 2.3% and 6.1 respectively, which would place the county in the red tier. However, the state chose to assign Humboldt County to the purple tier due to concern over the recent acceleration in local COVID-19 activity and newer data showing a case count over 7.0.

In the purple tier, various industry sectors will be required to reduce capacity, move outdoor or cease operations until COVID-19 transmission declines. Some of the state’s requirements include:

Bars, Breweries and Distilleries – Closed.
Wineries – Open outdoors only.
Family Entertainment Centers – Open outdoors only.
Retail – Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity.
Shopping Centers, Malls, Swap Meets - Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity; Close common areas; Close food courts.
Museums, Zoos and Aquariums – Open outdoors only.
Places of Worship – Open outdoors only.
Movie Theaters – Open outdoors only.
Hotels and Lodging – Close indoor pools, hot tubs, spa facilities and fitness centers.
Gyms and Fitness Centers – Open outdoors only.
Restaurants – Open outdoors only.
Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said these changes are a response to a very concerning increase in local transmission of COVID-19. “We all have to take action to slow the spread of this virus, which will allow us to move into a less restrictive tier and still protect each other and our health care system capacity,” she said.

Now that Humboldt County is in the purple tier, the state’s Limited Stay at Home Order will take effect locally on Wednesday. This order requires residents to refrain from gathering with non-household members and stop any non-essential activities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Members of the same household may leave their home during this time as long as they do not interact with other households, and activities related to “the operation, maintenance, or usage of critical infrastructure” are exempt, according to the state’s order.

Read state requirements under the purple tier at
https://tinyurl.com/statetierchanges.

Read the state’s Limited Stay at Home Order at
https://tinyurl.com/limitedstayathomeorder.

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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About The Author

Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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