Sunday, January 31, 2021

Task Force Reports Finding Assault Weapon, Guns, Fentanyl in Eureka Bust

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2021 at 8:17 PM

Weapons and drugs reportedly seized from the hotel room of Joseff Gene Greek. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Weapons and drugs reportedly seized from the hotel room of Joseff Gene Greek.
The Humboldt County Drug Task Force arrested two San Francisco men at a Eureka hotel today as a part of a fentanyl investigation after they reported finding a small arsenal, drugs and bags of blood spattered clothing.

The agents raided the motel room of Joseff Gene Greek, 34, this morning and took him and Dale Michael Melvin, 24, into custody after after reportedly finding equipment consistent with "manufacturing assault weapons, pistols, and unregistered firearms," as well as an assault rifle, multiple handguns, silencers, high-capacity magazines and large amounts of ammunition, according to a press release. Agents also reported finding 3 ounces of fentanyl and 6 ounces of methamphetamine, as well as two garbage bags filled with clothing covered in "blood spatter."

"It is unknown how these clothes became in this condition," the release states. "The clothes were seized as potential evidence in other crimes."

According to the press release, Greek and Melvin were booked into jail on suspicion of weapons and possession narcotics for sale.

For more information, see the press release copied below. And for more on why local police fear the spread of fentanyl, see past Journal coverage here.

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Huffman to Host COVID Vaccine Town Hall

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2021 at 9:27 AM

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman is hosting a virtual town hall Wednesday to discuss the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine and what residents in the Second Congressional District can expect in the coming months.

Guests include: Assemblymember Jim Wood and Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman and Heather Nye, Associate Chief of Medicine at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

Questions for the session, which begins at 4 p.m., can be submitted in Facebook video comments section during the town hall or in advance to huffmanQandA@mail.house.gov.

On the Humboldt vaccination front, efforts are underway to provide doses to
 local healthcare and emergency services workers and those 75 or older, with more than 1,700 slated to receive shots over the last week. Teachers also now being vaccinated, beginning with those providing in-class instruction. Those who are currently teaching via-distance learning are slated to begin receiving vaccination invitations by the middle of next month, depending on supplies.

Last week, Hoffman reported to the Board of Supervisors that the county is only receiving 1,000 to 2,000 first doses of vaccine a week from the state, which is slowing the process of getting through the list of the approximately 27,000 people currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

Humboldt residents without a primary care provider or whose provider is not an approved vaccinator can register with the county to receive a vaccine when eligible by submitting an online interest form. (Read more and find a link to the form here.)

The virtual town hall can be viewed/listen to at:
Facebook.com/RepHuffman

Live on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, KZYX 90.7FM Philo, KZYZ 91.5FM Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1FM Fort Bragg.

Access Humboldt AH11 (Suddenlink Cable Channel 11) as well as on radio at KZZH-LP 96.7FM.
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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Bridging the Gap: A Nonprofit's Efforts to Get HumCo's Latinx Residents Health Insurance, Services

Posted By on Sat, Jan 30, 2021 at 1:00 PM

William Dirks, Visión y Compromiso community promotor, tabling in front of La Pasadita Market in Eureka. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • William Dirks, Visión y Compromiso community promotor, tabling in front of La Pasadita Market in Eureka.
You might see a group of Visión y Compromiso “promotores” tabling at local mercados throughout Humboldt County — they’re on a mission to help as many Latinx residents as possible obtain health insurance and access healthcare services.

Visión y Compromiso Humboldt is a new chapter of the nonprofit Southern California based organizational coalition of “promotores,” or community health worker liaisons, aimed at supporting and creating healthier Latinx communities.

“The thing that we’re doing that no one else is doing is actually meeting people where they are,” says Visión y Compromiso promotor Ariel Fishkin. “We spend a lot of time outside of markets in Eureka and Fortuna and, for people who just wouldn’t call for whatever reason, we’re there to answer any question. They don’t have to go out of their way to find this information and, definitely, the education helps.”

In an interview with the Journal, Visión y Compromiso Humboldt Coordinator Ruben Ramirez says a California Department of Health Care Services study found that approximately 13,000 qualified Humboldt County residents weren't covered by Medi-Cal. So, the department partnered with California Coverage 
Ariel Fishkin, Visión y Compromiso community promotor, tabling in front of El Buen Gusto Market in Eureka. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Ariel Fishkin, Visión y Compromiso community promotor, tabling in front of El Buen Gusto Market in Eureka.
and Health Initiatives, which then hired Visión y Compromiso to help Humboldt County’s Latinx residents apply for Medi-Cal.

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CHP Investigating Fatal Fernbridge Drive Crash as Possible DUI

Posted By on Sat, Jan 30, 2021 at 11:53 AM

chp.jpg
The California Highway Patrol has arrested a 25-year-old woman after a fatal head-on collision on Fernbridge Drive at about 1:15 this morning.

According the CHP, Tiannah Ruvalcaba, 25, of Phillipsville, was driving her 2006 Honda Civic  northbound on Ferndbridge drive as a 1988 Ford Mustang approached heading southbound.

"For unknown reasons, one of the vehicles crossed over the broken yellow line separating the lines and the vehicles collided head-on," a CHP press release states. "The driver of the Mustang suffered major injuries as a result of the collision and was pronounced deceased by emergency medical personnel on scene."

The driver of the Mustang's identity is being withheld until next of kin can be notified of their death.

Ruvalcaba suffered major injuries in the crash and was taken to St. Joseph hospital for treatment, according to the release. She was also arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence as the CHP investigates impairment as a contributing factor to the collision.

Read the full CHP press release here.
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Friday, January 29, 2021

COVID-19 Safety Measures, Testing Should Continue Even With Vaccine Rollout

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 5:32 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
Humboldt County Public Health is urging residents who have received the COVID-19 vaccine to continue using COVID-19 safety measures and testing sites as the vaccine is not a guaranteed safety measure at preventing the disease's spread.

In the release, Humboldt County Public Health Clinic and Communicable Disease Program Supervisor Hava Phillips, RN, said it takes time for the body to build an immune response even after receiving both vaccine doses.

“The first dose offers some protection, but it can take a few weeks after the second dose to be protected against severe illness, and that protection isn’t 100 percent guaranteed,” Phillips said. “Virus prevention measures and testing will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 until vaccine uptake is far reaching.”

Those who have received both doses should continue to practice safety measures like wearing a face covering over the mouth and nose when in public, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding gathering with those outside of one’s household and washing hands frequently.

"In a recent interview, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the vaccine is intended to prevent symptomatic disease, not necessarily to prevent infection," the release states.

COVID-19 testing should also continue as it helps reduce transmission of the disease.

“Until vaccine is available for all who want it, we need to keep identifying cases as early as possible, so we can stop chains of transmission before they spread through our community," Phillips said.

OptumServe, the state-contracted COVID-19 testing provider, continues to provide free testing seven days a week at Redwood Acres in Eureka.

Testing is available at a different location in the county each weekday:

Eureka – Seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Redwood Acres, 3750 Harris St.)
Arcata – Mondays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Arcata Community Center, 321 M.L.K. Jr. Pkwy.)
Garberville – Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (SoHum Health Sprowl Creek Campus, 286 Sprowl Creek Road)
Fortuna – Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Dr.)
Hoopa – Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Tsewenaldin Inn, 12482 CA-96)
McKinleyville – Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road)

Read the full press release below.
Jan. 29, 2021 - COVID-19 Safety Measures, Testing Remain Important While Vaccine Efforts Are Ongoing

Health officials say prevention measures should continue even after being vaccinated for COVID-19, and testing for the virus should continue until the vaccine is widely available.

Humboldt County Public Health Clinic and Communicable Disease Program Supervisor Hava Phillips, RN, said she is excited to see the vaccine being administered locally but cautioned that it takes time for the body to build an immune response even after receiving both vaccine doses.

“The first dose offers some protection, but it can take a few weeks after the second dose to be protected against severe illness, and that protection isn’t 100% guaranteed,” Phillips said. “Virus prevention measures and testing will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 until vaccine uptake is far reaching.”

In a recent interview, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the vaccine is intended to prevent symptomatic disease, not necessarily to prevent infection. He went on to say that while asymptomatic transmission will continue to be of concern, reducing symptoms—particularly coughing and sneezing—will lessen transmission because people who do become ill will spread fewer respiratory droplets containing the virus.

After receiving both doses, residents should continue to follow COVID-19 prevention measures, including wearing a face covering over the mouth and nose when in public, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding gathering with those outside of one’s household and washing hands frequently.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states vaccine effectiveness varies slightly depending on the manufacturer, although both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently approved for Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration have demonstrated about 94% effectiveness at preventing severe illness due to COVID-19.

Continued testing for COVID-19 remains an important tool in reducing transmission. Phillips said, “Until vaccine is available for all who want it, we need to keep identifying cases as early as possible, so we can stop chains of transmission before they spread through our community.”

OptumServe, the state-contracted COVID-19 testing provider, continues to provide free testing seven days a week at Redwood Acres in Eureka. Testing is available at a different location in the county each weekday:

  • Eureka – Seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Redwood Acres, 3750 Harris St.)
  • Arcata – Mondays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Arcata Community Center, 321 M.L.K. Jr. Pkwy.)
  • Garberville – Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (SoHum Health Sprowl Creek Campus, 286 Sprowl Creek Road)
  • Fortuna – Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Dr.)
  • Hoopa – Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Tsewenaldin Inn, 12482 CA-96)
  • McKinleyville – Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road)

Schedule an appointment in advance to make sure a test is available when you need it. To schedule a no-cost appointment:

Read more about the Moderna vaccine at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/Moderna.html.

Read more about the Pfizer vaccine at cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/recs/grade/covid-19-pfizer-biontech-vaccine.html.

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Former Middle School Teaching Assistant Arrested for Alleged Sexual Abuse of a Child

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 2:59 PM

Matthew Oliver Gibson - FORTUNA POLICE DEPT.
  • Fortuna Police Dept.
  • Matthew Oliver Gibson
This morning the Fortuna Police Department arrested former Toddy Thomas Middle School teaching assistant Matthew Oliver Gibson of McKinleyville on suspicion of sexual abusing a child.

According to a press release, Gibson was a teaching assistant in the 2017-2018 school year and helping with the after-school program at the Fortuna school when he allegedly sexually abused a student. Gibson's employment ended in 2018 and was not working for the school at the time of his arrest.

As soon as the allegations were made to FPD earlier this month, detectives and the school's resource officers began investigating and "worked to establish and corroborate facts associated with the allegations," which led to Gibson’s arrest this morning, according to the release.

Gibson was booked into jail on suspicion of having committed numerous sexual assault offenses, including rape, the continuous sexual abuse of a child, forcible acts of sexual penetration and lewd and lascivious acts by force.

The case remains under investigation and FPD asks anyone with additional information to come forward.

Read the full press release below.


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Humboldt Marks 30 COVID Deaths, Nearly 1K Cases in January

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 2:30 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported three additional COVID-19 related deaths today and 29 addition cases, bringing the week's total to 262 and a record 994 so far in January.

One of the individuals who died was in their 60s and two were in their 70s.

Today's results came after 257 tests were processed.

The county reported earlier this week that contact investigation teams are currently tracking 194 chains of transmission and several small outbreaks throughout the county, with many related to indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to vaccinate local healthcare and emergency services workers and those 75 or older, with more than 1,700 slated to receive shots through Sunday, and efforts have also begun to vaccinate teachers, first those providing in-class instruction, with those currently teaching via-distance learning slated to begin receiving vaccination invitations by the middle of next month, depending on supplies.

"Vaccinations for some in-person kindergarten through 12th-grade educators and support staff began yesterday, and additional vaccination clinics are scheduled for this group this weekend," a news release from the county's Joint Information Center states. "Distance learning educators and support staff are expected to start receiving vaccination invitations by mid-February."

Mad River Community Hospital is asking people not to come to its scheduled COVID-19 vaccination clinics unless they have received an invitation directly from their primary healthcare provider or been referred to the clinic by Humboldt County Public Health or their employer. (Read more about what prompted the hospital's request here.)


Health Officer Ian Hoffman reported to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the county is only receiving 1,000 to 2,000 first doses of vaccine a week from the state, which is slowing the process of getting through the list of the approximately 27,000 people — including healthcare workers, first responders, educators and residents age 75 and older — currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

Individuals without a primary care provider or whose provider is not an approved vaccinator can register with the county to receive a vaccine when eligible by submitting an online interest form. (Read more and find a link to the form here.)

Under state data released this week, meanwhile, Humboldt County remains in the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,754 cases, with 101 hospitalizations and 30 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Thirteen Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including two under intensive care. Humboldt County's ICU capacity is listed at 25 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,416 people as having "recovered" from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious and does not account for long-term health impacts, which local healthcare workers have told the Journal can be substantial, even in previously health patients.

While the rates of infection and hospitalizations have slowed in recent weeks in areas of California, that hasn't been the case locally.

"We're not seeing that yet," Hoffman told the board Tuesday.

Meanwhile, state health officials this week abruptly ended a stay home order, which divided California into five regions, that was triggered throughout a region when its commutative available hospital intensive care unit capacity dropped below 15 percent. Areas of the California that where under the order, which included most of the state but not Humboldt, can now resume some operations, such as outdoor dining.

Still in effect is a health order issued last month that halted all elective surgeries to make more room for intensive care unit capacity in regions where hospital ICU capacity is at 0 percent. That order doesn't currently affect Humboldt County.

The state has issued a travel advisory strongly discouraging all non-essential travel and urging anyone returning from non essential, out-of-state travel needs to self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days upon their return.

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.

While California has a case rate of 71.6 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 12.6 percent in data released last week, Humboldt has a case rate of 23.7 cases per 100,000 and a 6.8 percent positivity rate, both increases.

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.
Read the county's release below:
Three Humboldt County residents have died with COVID-19, and 29 additional cases were reported today. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus is now 2,754. One of the people who died was in their 60s, and two were in their 70s.

On behalf of Public Health and the Emergency Operations Center, staff extend their condolences to the friends, family members and medical professionals who cared for these residents.

So far this week, more than 900 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at Public Health clinics with more than 420 first and second doses scheduled for today. Additionally, partners have administered hundreds of vaccines this week and are expected to vaccinate an additional 400 residents at clinics through the weekend. Vaccinations for some in-person kindergarten through 12th-grade educators and support staff began yesterday, and additional vaccination clinics are scheduled for this group this weekend. Distance learning educators and support staff are expected to start receiving vaccination invitations by mid-February.

Data is currently being gathered for child care and early education providers who are expected to start receiving vaccine clinic invites in mid- to late February. Residents who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can fill out the vaccine interest form at humboldtgov.org/InterestForm to be notified when appointments are available for their tier. Businesses or organizations designated for priority distribution by the state are encouraged to call the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000 to learn which form should be used. 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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Storm on the Horizon as Hundreds Remain Without Power, Snowy Roads Prompt Rescues

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 12:05 PM

Deputies out training ended up rescuing the occupants of three vehicles, including one that slid out on a mountain curve and came to rest partially over the road edge with a steep embankment. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • Deputies out training ended up rescuing the occupants of three vehicles, including one that slid out on a mountain curve and came to rest partially over the road edge with a steep embankment.
Enjoy the break in the rain, however short-lived, as another round of weather heads to Humboldt.

The Eureka office of the National Weather Service forecast has a weak storm system moving into the region late tonight and into tomorrow, bringing a quarter to half-inch of rain.

But following behind is a stronger system slated to hit Sunday, dropping some 3 to 6 inches of rain across a wide swath of the region into next week, potentially causing flooding. Snowfall, if any, is only expected at high elevations.

Meanwhile, nearly 600 Humboldt residents remained without power this morning after the winter storm that hit earlier this week, dumping significant snow in some areas and downing trees. (See pictures and read more here and here.)

Snow is still on the ground at higher elevations, including Horse Mountain, which was the site of three separate rescues yesterday when deputies out training came upon three separate vehicles in trouble, including a family with a young child that was stuck in the snow and a car perched partially over a steep embankment after spinning out on a sharp curve, according to a Facebook post.

All were safely rescued, according to the HCSO.

There’s nothing better than being in the right place at the right time. Yesterday, while our Special Services Division...

Posted by Humboldt County Sheriff's Office on Friday, January 29, 2021
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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mad River Hospital: Don't Show up at Vaccination Clinics Uninvited

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2021 at 5:24 PM

Dale Stocky celebrates his 75th birthday by getting the COVID-19 vaccination he'd newly become eligible for at a Mad River Community Hospital vaccine clinic Jan. 23 at Pacific Union Elementary School. - FILE
  • File
  • Dale Stocky celebrates his 75th birthday by getting the COVID-19 vaccination he'd newly become eligible for at a Mad River Community Hospital vaccine clinic Jan. 23 at Pacific Union Elementary School.
Mad River Community Hospital is asking people not to come to its scheduled COVID-19 vaccination clinics unless they have received an invitation directly from their primary healthcare provider or been referred to the clinic by Humboldt County Public Health or their employer.

While word of the clinics scheduled this week and next has spread rapidly via email chains and social media, hospital spokesperson Jacqueline Martin said they are being held specifically for patients of the hospital’s health clinics — Mad River Express, Six Rivers Medical Center, Humboldt Family Medical Center and home health — who are 75 and older, as well as a handful of others referred by Public Health. People who haven’t been informed of the clinic schedule by Public Health or their primary care provider should not try to attend, Martin said.

“We don’t want tons of people trying to get a vaccine that we either aren’t authorized to provide or do not have vaccine availability to provide,” Martin said in an email to the Journal, adding the weekday clinics will also be primarily giving second doses to patients who have already received their first.

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COVID Case Count Ties Single-Day Record

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2021 at 4:52 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 53 new COVID-19 cases today, matching a single-day record set Dec. 30, bringing the week's total to 233 and a record 965 so far in January.

Two additional hospitalizations were also reported, making 15 so far this week, already more hospitalizations than have been tallied in any single week locally since the pandemic began. Today's results came after 500 tests were processed.

The county reported earlier this week that contact investigation teams are currently tracking 194 chains of transmission and several small outbreaks throughout the county, with many related to indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to vaccinate local healthcare and emergency services workers and those 75 or older, with more than 1,700 slated to receive shots through Sunday, and efforts have also begun to vaccinate teachers, first those providing in-class instruction, with those currently teaching via-distance learning slated to begin receiving vaccination invitations by the middle of next month, depending on supplies.

"Public Health continues to exhaust its supply of vaccine on a weekly basis," a news release from the county's Joint Information Center states. "Vaccines are administered through clinics coordinated by Public Health, hospitals and other local health care providers. Planning is underway to expand appointments to additional priority groups, depending on vaccine availability."

Health Officer Ian Hoffman reported to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that the county is only receiving 1,000 to 2,000 first doses of vaccine a week from the state, which is slowing the process of getting through the list of the approximately 27,000 people — including healthcare workers, first responders, educators and residents age 75 and older — currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

Individuals without a primary care provider or whose provider is not an approved vaccinator can register with the county to receive a vaccine when eligible by submitting an online interest form. (Read more and find a link to the form here.)

Under state data released this week, meanwhile, Humboldt County remains in the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,725 cases, with 101 hospitalizations and 27 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Twelve Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including two under intensive care. Humboldt County's ICU capacity is listed at 42.9 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,400 people as having "recovered" from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious and does not account for long-term health impacts, which local healthcare workers have told the Journal can be substantial, even in previously health patients.

While the rates of infection and hospitalizations have slowed in recent weeks in areas of California, that hasn't been the case locally.

"We're not seeing that yet," Hoffman told the board Tuesday.

Meanwhile, state health officials this week abruptly ended a stay home order, which divided California into five regions, that was triggered throughout a region when its commutative available hospital intensive care unit capacity dropped below 15 percent. Areas of the California that where under the order, which included most of the state but not Humboldt, can now resume some operations, such as outdoor dining.

Still in effect is a health order issued last month that halted all elective surgeries to make more room for intensive care unit capacity in regions where hospital ICU capacity is at 0 percent. That order doesn't currently affect Humboldt County.

The state has issued a travel advisory strongly discouraging all non-essential travel and urging anyone returning from non essential, out-of-state travel needs to self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days upon their return.

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.

While California has a case rate of 71.6 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 12.6 percent in data released last week, Humboldt has a case rate of 23.7 cases per 100,000 and a 6.8 percent positivity rate, both increases.

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.

Read the county release below:
Humboldt County has seen a total of 2,725 positive COVID-19 cases, after 53 additional cases were reported today. More than 1,700 vaccination appointments have been scheduled today through Sunday, and all doses allocated to Humboldt County Public Health have been administered or are already scheduled to be administered.

Public Health continues to exhaust its supply of vaccine on a weekly basis. Vaccines are administered through clinics coordinated by Public Health, hospitals and other local health care providers. Planning is underway to expand appointments to additional priority groups, depending on vaccine availability.

Currently, local COVID-19 vaccine priorities are: Health care workers – Continuing to schedule vaccination appointments. Long-term care facility residents and staff – Continuing to schedule vaccination appointments. People 75 and older – Continuing to schedule vaccination appointments. Emergency services workers – Continuing to schedule vaccination appointments.

K-12 educators and support staff – Expecting to begin scheduling vaccination appointments by mid-February, with in-person teachers and support staff invited first followed by those engaged in distance learning.

Child care and early education providers – Gathering data from employers and organizations to plan for clinics.

Higher education – Gathering data from employers and organizations to plan for clinics.

Food and agriculture workers – Planning stages to gather data from employers and organizations to plan for clinics.

Organizations in the Child Care and Food & Agriculture sectors are encouraged to complete the Community Workforce Survey to support Public Health in planning for future distribution of vaccine to those workplaces. Submissions should be limited to one per agency.

Access the form at humboldtgov.org/CommunityWorkforceSurvey. Individual county residents can fill out the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Form to be notified when an appointment is available for their priority group. Go to humboldtgov.org/InterestForm to complete the form. Organizations interested in getting employees vaccinated or anyone with questions about these forms should contact the Humboldt County Joint Information Center for assistance at 707-441-5000. 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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