Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Humboldt's COVID Numbers Continue to Climb

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2020 at 4:04 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reports 35 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed today, making 123 so far this week and 1,137 since the pandemic began.

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 239 to date in December.

At the current rate of infection, Humboldt's COVID numbers could double in 31 days, according to local health officials. The vast majority of cases are residents under 39.

The new COVID cases reported today were confirmed after laboratories processed 440  samples.

Meanwhile, the county remains braced to be put under a regional stay-at-home order from the state after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that regions where available hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15 percent will be subject to new restrictions.

As of today, the "Northern California region," which includes Humboldt and 10 other counties, had a combined 25 percent available ICU capacity, a drop from yesterday's 28.2 percent, according to the state, although Humboldt alone stands at 15 percent.

Regions that dip below 15, which is expected to happen across the board soon, fall under the the new restrictions, which went into effect this week in the Southern California region and the San Joaquin region, which together encompass nearly half of the state.

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, Newsom 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.

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 has a case rate of 34 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 8.4 percent as of today, Humboldt has a case rate of 12.3 per 100,000 and a 4 percent positivity rate, an increase in both categories.

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 have been 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 last week 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.

To date, 1,137  Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 54 having been hospitalized at some point in their care (five new hospitalizations were reported since Friday) 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. Testing is 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.
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About The Author

Kimberly Wear

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

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