Friday, December 4, 2020

County Confirms 22 New COVID-19 Cases, Capping Record Week and Pushing Humboldt Past 1K Infections

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2020 at 4:58 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 22 new COVID-19 cases today, setting a single-week record for the third consecutive week with 165 cases.

After confirming 59 cases in October, Humboldt County has seen its COVID-19 caseload spike sharply in recent weeks amid a national and statewide surge. The county confirmed 328 cases last month and has already recorded 117 through the first four days in December. Over the past 12 days, the county has confirmed 287 cases as the countywide test-positivity rate has increased steadily.

Today's cases  — which pushed the county's to-date case tally beyond 1,000 — were reported after laboratories processed 407 samples with a test-positivity rate of 5.4 percent. While it took the county 224 days to confirm its first 508 cases, the next 507 came over the span of 67.

“Local COVID conditions have worsened rapidly, as in most of the country,” Deputy Health Officer Josh Ennis said in a press release. “The time we have all been discussing has now arrived. Our everyday actions are tied more than ever to more hospitalizations and more deaths. Be sensible, be kind — show your neighbor what it is to care by following commonsense, evidence-based recommendations.”

The county also remains braced to be put under a regional stay-at-home order from the state, as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that regions where available hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15 percent will be subject to the new order. As of yesterday, the "Northern California region," which includes Humboldt and 10 other counties, had a combined 18.6 percent available ICU capacity, according to the state, and Newsom said projects show that will dip below 15 percent in the coming days, triggering the new restrictions.

Where implemented, the order will temporarily close bars, wineries, personal service salons, hair salons and barbershops, while retail stores will be limited to 20 percent capacity and restaurants will be limited to take-out and delivery only. Schools that have a waiver will be allowed to remain open to in-person instruction, he said, and critical infrastructure will remain open. The order will also temporarily prohibit all non-essential travel, he said.

The county's steady escalation of cases puts Humboldt solidly in the state's purple "widespread" risk tier, along with nearly all of California's 58 counties, which had already brought new layers of restrictions on local businesses. But case counts continue to spike.

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 dramatically in recent weeks.

While the state had a case rate of 30.2 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 6.4 percent as of Tuesday, Humboldt has a case rate of 10.7 per 100,000 and a 3.2 percent positivity rate. But those numbers are based on data for the week ending Nov. 25 and the situation has grown worse since.

In the nine days since Nov. 25, Humboldt has confirmed a daily average of 16.1 cases per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 6.3 percent.

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

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

The county also continues to grapple with an outbreak at the Granada Rehabilitation and Wellness skilled nursing facility, which Public Health announced yesterday had seen a total of 30 infections — 29 in residents — in the 87-bed facility since a staff member tested positive for the virus Nov. 25.

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.

Nationwide, more than 14 million cases have been confirmed to date, including 218,187 yesterday, with 275,386 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. California, meanwhile, has seen 1.3 million cases confirmed to date, including 18,591 yesterday, and 19,437 fatalities, according to the Department of Public Health.

To date, 1,014 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus — the county also reported today that a prior reported positive case was a duplicate — with 49 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and nine confirmed COVID-related fatalities. According to a state database, Humboldt County had seven confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of yesterday.

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. See today's press release from Public Health copied below:

Dec. 4, 2020 - Local COVID-19 Cases Exceed 1,000

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Twenty-two additional cases of COVID-19 were reported today. One previously reported case was determined to be a duplicate, so the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus stands at 1,014.

Humboldt County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Josh Ennis described reaching one thousand cases as a foreseeable but unfortunate milestone. “Local COVID conditions have worsened rapidly, as in most of the country,” he said. “The time we have all been discussing has now arrived. Our everyday actions are tied more than ever to more hospitalizations and more deaths. Be sensible, be kind—show your neighbor what it is to care by following commonsense, evidence-based recommendations.”

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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