Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Humboldt Marks 17th COVID-Related Death

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2020 at 3:26 PM

Public Health announced a 17th Humboldt resident has died and 27 new COVID cases were confirmed, bringing this week's total, so far, 152.

According to a news release, the individual was in their 80s and died out of the county.

Last week saw 156 cases, which seemed like a brief respite from the previous week's record of 217, but the month's total stands at 641, nearly double November's previous record total of 327.

The "Northern California" region of the state — which includes Humboldt and 11 other counties — is still expected to fall under a regional stay-at-home order form the state in the coming days. The order will be triggered throughout the region when its commutative available hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15 percent, as has already occurred in the rest of the state.

As of this morning, the state reported the region had a combined 28.8 percent capacity. If 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 and critical infrastructure will remain open. The order also temporarily prohibits all non-essential travel.

In Humboldt County, health care workers have already said there are emergency room patients who have been waiting for days for transfers out of the area for specialized care because hospitals throughout the state don't have available beds.

Today's Humboldt County cases were confirmed after 460 samples were processed.

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 80.7 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents (up from 63.9) with a test positivity rate of 13.3 percent (up from 11.3) as of Tuesday, Humboldt has a case rate 18.5 cases per 100,000 (up from 16.1) and a 4.9 percent positivity rate, also an increase.

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.

To date, 1,539 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 62 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and 17 confirmed COVID-related fatalities. Seven Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including one under intensive care.

Meanwhile, the county's Joint Information Center is urging locals to get tested, calling it "one of the most helpful things county residents can do for the community at large," because it allows Public Health to catch cases early and limit spread. The state-run OptumServe testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka is open seven days a week and no-cost appointments can be made by clicking here or calling (888) 634-1123.

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. Find the press release from Public Health copied below.

A 17th Humboldt County resident has died after testing positive for COVID-19, and an additional 27 cases of the virus were reported today. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 1,539. The person who died was in their 80s and died out of county. Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said Public Health extends its sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones to the virus. In vaccine news, the county received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine earlier this week. The Moderna vaccine is especially important for rural communities because it does not need to be frozen at extreme temperatures, and once thawed can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 30 days. The Moderna vaccine can also be shipped in smaller quantities. Distribution of this vaccine to local providers started today and will continue in weekly allocations. The county is currently in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution, which includes three tiers that indicate priority. Humboldt County is currently vaccinating Phase 1A-tier 1 and is making preparations to expand to tier 2, which will include community health workers, home health and in-home supportive services, Public Health field staff and primary care clinics. For more information about Phase IA tiers and who will be next in the vaccine distribution process, visit: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/CDPH-Allocation-Guidelines-for-COVID-19-Vaccine-During-Phase-1A-Recommendations.aspx Most County of Humboldt facilities are closed Dec. 24 and 25, although the Joint Information Center will open Saturday, Dec. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to take calls from the public on topics related to the virus. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000. For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov.

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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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