Thursday, December 31, 2020

Public Health Confirms 33 New COVID-19 Cases

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 3:42 PM

click to enlarge PUBLIC HEALTH
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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 33 new COVID-19 cases today.

Yesterday, Public Health Officer Ian Hoffman urged residents to avoid gatherings for New Year's Eve as the county has seen the impacts of Thanksgiving get-togethers and has yet to see the impact of Christmas gatherings.

Today's cases come after Public Health confirmed 53 yesterday and 31 on Tuesday and 61 on Monday.

On Tuesday, the state lowered Humboldt County from its "widespread" purple risk tier, California's most restrictive, to its "substantial" red tier, which will allow some businesses and organizations to resume limited indoor operations, including restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship. (Read more here.)

But Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in a press release that in many ways data does not support the state's decision.

"Our case rates are the highest they've ever been, and our contact investigation teams are tracking more cases, not fewer," he said. "It's unfortunate that we didn't get to have a conversation with the state before this decision was handed down."

Hoffman, however, didn't indicate he intended to keep the stricter purple tier restrictions in place.

Meanwhile, the "Northern California" region of the state — which includes Humboldt and 11 other counties — is the only one not yet under a regional stay-at-home order. 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 34.1 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, healthcare 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 508 samples were processed.

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 California has a case rate of 93.1 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents (up from 80.7) with a test positivity rate of 14.5 percent (up from 13.3) in data released today, Humboldt has a case rate of 14 cases per 100,000 (down from 18.5 last week) and a 4 percent positivity rate, also a decrease.

To date, 1,764 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 66 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and 22 confirmed COVID-related fatalities. Five Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including two under intensive care.

Nationally, more than 19.8 million people have been confirmed to have the virus, including 230,337 cases confirmed today, with 341,199 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Statewide, 2.2 million people have been confirmed to have the disease, including 25,386 today, with 25,386 COVID-related fatalities.

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 assessing risk factors for contracting the illness, which can be found 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.

Dec. 31, 2020 - 33 New Cases Reported Today

A total of 1,764 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 33 additional cases of the virus were reported today.

The Humboldt County Joint Information Center will be closed Friday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day. Normal business hours will resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 4.

All OptumServe COVID-19 testing sites will be closed Friday, Jan. 1. Testing is expected to resume on Saturday, Jan. 2. 

Excluding holidays, testing currently is available seven days a week at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka. OptumServe also offers testing at an additional location in the county each weekday. To find a nearby testing site and to schedule a no-cost appointment:

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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About The Author

Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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