Thursday, January 21, 2021

Public Health Confirms 31 New COVID-19 Cases, Resume Vaccine Distribution

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2021 at 3:40 PM

Public Health confirmed 31 new COVID-19 cases today, making 198 so far this week and bringing the county's cumulative tally to 2,458, as well as four new hospitalizations

The week's cases continue a surge that saw 232 cases confirmed last week, on the heels of a record 269 the week before. Humboldt County has already confirmed 697 cases in January, putting it on pace to eclipse December's single month record of 863.

The county also announced today that it is resuming administering vaccination doses from a batch of Moderna vaccine, the safety of which had come into question after seven people had an adverse reaction after receiving it in San Diego. But a state investigation found no scientific data indicating the vaccine isn't safe, giving counties the green light last night to continuing administering from the batch.

“Given the severity of this pandemic, any delay in vaccination is significant, so we are pleased to resume our plans to vaccinate older adults,” Health Officer Hoffman said in a press release, adding that thousands of local doses from the batch have now been cleared for distribution.

Under state data released Tuesday, Humboldt County remains in the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier this week after a short stint in the less restrictive substantial risk zone.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,458 cases, with 86 hospitalizations and 25 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Fourteen Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including five under intensive care. Humboldt County's ICU capacity is listed at 28.9 percent.

The county dashboard lists 1,970 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. According to the dashboard, there are currently 464 active COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County.

Earlier this month, the state issued a health order that halted all elective 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.

The order doesn't currently affect Humboldt County but could very soon.

The state also issued an updated 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.

Meanwhile, the state’s stay home order, which divides California into five regions, is triggered throughout the region when its commutative available hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15 percent, as has already occurred in much of the state.

The data updated Wednesday reported the Northern California region had a combined 28.1 percent available ICU capacity, an increase from last week. If implemented locally, the stay home 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 464  samples were processed with a test-positivity rate of 6.7 percent.

The United States has confirmed 404,689 COVID-19 deaths, with more than 4,300 confirmed yesterday alone, with 24.3 million cases to date, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. California, meanwhile, has recorded more than 3 million COVID-19 cases with 34,433 deaths, including 694 reported yesterday, according to the Department of Public Health.

While California has a case rate of 105.4 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 15.2 percent in data released today, Humboldt has a case rate of 18.3 cases per 100,000 (down from 25.2 in last week's report) and a 4.9 percent positivity rate, also a decrease.

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:

Jan. 21, 2021 - 31 Additional Cases Reported Today; CDPH Clears Moderna Lot for Immediate Use
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 2,458 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 31 new cases were reported today.

Humboldt County Public Health and local providers have resumed using Lot 041L20A of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine after the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced it was safe to administer.

CDPH had asked counties to pause use of the lot when seven vaccine recipients at a single location in San Diego experienced severe allergic reactions. The agency, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and Moderna, found that there was “no scientific basis to continue the pause.”

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said he was grateful to the state for acting quickly to ensure the safety of the vaccine supply and added that he is excited to resume distribution of all vaccine on hand. “There’s a system in place to detect any issues with the vaccine, and that system worked,” he said. “Public Health has 3,170 doses on hand to administer. More than 2,500 of those were affected by this pause—600 first doses and 1,900 second doses—and we want people to know they’re safe.” The remainder of the Moderna lot was distributed to local health care providers, and all are clear to resume administering those doses.

“Given the severity of this pandemic, any delay in vaccination is significant, so we are pleased to resume our plans to vaccinate older adults,” Dr. Hoffman said.

On Wednesday, 285 people were vaccinated at Public Health vaccination clinics with an estimated 290 additional vaccinations expected to be administered today and about 400 appointments scheduled for Friday. Local health care providers also continue to provide vaccinations to their patients. Appointments are invitation only and currently prioritized for Phase 1A health care workers who have not received their first dose and residents over the age of 75.

Providers approved to administer vaccine will reach out directly to their patients who are over 75 as vaccine becomes available. For those who do not have a provider or whose doctor is not an approved vaccinator, the Humboldt County Joint Information Center is developing an online interest form for individuals to submit to be notified when vaccination appointments are available for their priority group. Additional information about the interest form will be released next week.

Read CDPH’s update on the Moderna lot at cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/NR21-025.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 707-441-5000.


Local COVID-19 vaccine information: humboldtgov.org/vaccineinfo
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/dashboard
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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