Monday, January 4, 2021

Humboldt Nearing 2,000 COVID Cases

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2021 at 4:11 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported today it has confirmed 147 new COVID-19 cases since Dec. 31, bringing the total number to date to 1,910 cases as the pandemic continues into its 10th month. Two more hospitalizations were also reported.

Today's results follow a steady stream of cases confirmed last week, including 53 on Dec. 30, 31 on Dec. 29 and 61 on Dec. 28.

But Humboldt County remains in the state's "substantial" COVID risk tier, at least for the moment, which allowed some businesses and organizations to resume limited indoor operations, including restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship, after being lowered from a purple or "widespread" ranking last week to the surprise and concern of local health officials.


Last week, Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in a press release that in many ways data does not support the state's decision. New risk rankings are scheduled to be released tomorrow.

In today's release, Hoffman reminded residents what they are supposed to do if they test positive for COVID or are notified of a possible exposure.

“If you test positive, follow isolation procedures. Stay home, and contact the Joint Information Center. The guidance is that simple,” he said in the release. “Isolating from others, including people you live with, is the best way to stop the chain of transmission and keep your friends and loved ones safe.”

Those who have been in contact with a positive COVID case are asked to self-quarantine.

“If you were notified by a medical professional or someone you know that you are a close contact, follow quarantine guidelines, and stay home for a minimum of 10 days from the time of exposure,” Hoffman said, adding 14 days is the safer option. “Do not get retested. It puts health care workers at risk, and a negative test result has no impact on the duration of your quarantine.”

Meanwhile, the "Northern California" region of the state — which includes Humboldt and 11 other counties — continues to be the only section of the state 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 30 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 1,284 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, 1,910 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 68 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.

An additional 147 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the most recent report Thursday. A previously reported case was determined to be a duplicate, so the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive now stands at 1,910. Given the recent increase in local cases, Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman shared information about best practices for people who test positive and those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

“If you test positive, follow isolation procedures. Stay home, and contact the Joint Information Center. The guidance is that simple,” he said. “Isolating from others, including people you live with, is the best way to stop the chain of transmission and keep your friends and loved ones safe.”

Quarantine is meant for people who have not tested positive but have been identified as a close contact of a person known to be positive for COVID-19. A close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a COVID-positive person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

“If you were notified by a medical professional or someone you know that you are a close contact, follow quarantine guidelines, and stay home for a minimum of 10 days from the time of exposure,” Dr. Hoffman said, adding that quarantining for 14 days is still the safest option to prevent exposure. “Do not get retested. It puts health care workers at risk, and a negative test result has no impact on the duration of your quarantine.” Learn more about home isolation and quarantine at humboldtgov.org/blanketorders. 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 the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000.
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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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