Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Public Health Confirms 30 COVID-19 Cases

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2021 at 3:27 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 30 new COVID-19 cases today, with one case having been removed after it was determined to be from out of the county, bringing the countywide total to 1,957.

Yesterday, the state issued a health order that halted all elected surgeries to make more room for intensive care unit capacity in regions where hospital ICU capacity is at 0 percent. Those hospitals also now have the ability to transfer patients in and out of other regions, including the Northern California region, where ICU capacity is at 24.4 percent.

The order won't affect Humboldt County as it does not meet the criteria.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman believes the health order will help avoid “crisis care” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Canceling elective surgeries in areas with surging hospitalizations will free up beds almost immediately,” Hoffman said. “Our community has done pretty well at protecting our health care system and preserving our hospital capacity. We all need to continue that commitment to each other and follow all COVID safety measures.”

During a report to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors yesterday, Health Officer Ian Hoffman said that the state's data trails behind the real-time numbers local officials are seeing.

“Our data is worsening, not improving,” Hoffman said in a news release. “I would urge every member of our community to take precautions as if we’re in the purple tier because there is a lot of virus circulating in our community right now. Local businesses should also be cautious planning for the next few weeks because we anticipate a move back to purple next week.”

As one of only four counties not currently in the purple or "widespread" tier, and since the region is not yet under the state's shelter-in-place order like more than 98 percent of California's residents, some Humboldt businesses and organizations have been allowed to resume limited indoor operations, including restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship.

But that will change when the county moves back up to the more restrictive ranking. So far this month, 194 cases have been recorded on the heels of a steady stream of cases confirmed last week.

At 932, December's numbers accounted for nearly half of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County, according to the Joint Information Center.

As of this morning, the state reported the region had a combined 24.4 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 442 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 74.1 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents (down from 93.1) with a test positivity rate of 15 percent in data released today, Humboldt has a case rate of 16.3 cases per 100,000 (up from 14 last week) and a 5.2 percent positivity rate, also an increase.

To date, 1,957 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 69 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and 23 confirmed COVID-related fatalities. Seven Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including two under intensive care.

Nationally, more than 21.1 million people have been confirmed to have the virus, including 227,692 cases confirmed today, with 356,005 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Statewide, 2.5 million people have been confirmed to have the disease, with 27,461 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.

Jan. 6, 2021 - 30 New Cases Reported Today
Thirty additional cases of COVID-19 were reported today. A case reported last week was determined to be from out of the county, so the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 1,957.

Late yesterday, the state issued a Health Order to limit the impact of a surge in COVID-19 patients in regions where intensive care unit capacity is at 0%. Hospitals in counties that fall under the Order are required to cancel non-emergency surgeries. Those hospitals also have the ability to transfer patients into and out of other regions, including the Northern California region, where ICU capacity sits at 24.4%.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said the intent of the order is to make ICU and other hospital beds available close to where patients live. “Canceling elective surgeries in areas with surging hospitalizations will free up beds almost immediately,” he said, adding that elective surgeries in Humboldt County are not affected at this time as the county does not meet the criteria. “Our community has done pretty well at protecting our health care system and preserving our hospital capacity. We all need to continue that commitment to each other and follow all COVID safety measures.”

To read more about local impacts of the Order, go to humboldtgov.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=3593.

Read the Order at cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Order-of-the-State-Public-Health-Officer-Hospital-Surge_1-5-2021.aspx.

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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Iridian Casarez

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

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