Friday, January 22, 2021

County Reports 37 New Confirmed COVID Cases

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 4:06 PM

Public Health confirmed 37 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the county's cumulative tally to 2,494 after one previous case was determined to be a duplicate.

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 733 cases in January, putting it on pace to eclipse December's single month record of 863.

According to a news release from the county's COVID Joint Information Center, 
260 people were vaccinated at the Public Health clinic on Thursday, with just over 400 appointments scheduled today. Another 1,350 people are expected to be vaccinated at Public Health clinics next week.

The release also states the JIC is working on an "online interest form for individuals who want to be notified when vaccination appointments are available for their priority group," which is expected to be launched on Monday.

“This interest form is another step toward expanding vaccine access to more members of our community as we plan for additional groups and clinics, but how quickly that happens depends on how many doses we receive from the state,” 
Humboldt County Public Health Director Michele Stephens said in the release.

According to the county, the state is working on a way to accurately track how many doses are available in a particular area.

“Some doses are distributed directly to approved vaccinators and others come through Public Health,” County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in the release. “A streamlined tracking tool will make it easier for us to plan future vaccination clinics.”

The county announced Thursday 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.

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 2,494 cases, with 86 hospitalizations and 25 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Thirteen 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 42.2 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,011 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 today reported the Northern California region had a combined 32.6 percent available ICU capacity, an increase from earlier this 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 509 samples were processed.

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 Tuesday, 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:
Thirty-seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported today. A previously recorded case was determined to be a duplicate, so the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive now stands at 2,494.

On Thursday, approximately 260 people were vaccinated at the Public Health clinic, with just over 400 appointments scheduled today. Next week, Public Health expects to vaccinate an additional 1,350 people in its clinics.

Local health care providers are also continuing to reach out and schedule vaccinations for their patients, including Phase IA health care workers and people 75 and older.

The Humboldt County Joint Information Center is currently testing an online interest form for individuals who want to be notified when vaccination appointments are available for their priority group. The form is expected to be officially launched Monday afternoon.

Humboldt County Public Health Director Michele Stephens said, “This interest form is another step toward expanding vaccine access to more members of our community as we plan for additional groups and clinics, but how quickly that happens depends on how many doses we receive from the state.”

The state is working on a tracking tool that will provide the most up-to-date information on all doses of the vaccine sent to Humboldt County.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman pointed out that current statewide tracking tools are rudimentary and make it difficult if not impossible to determine how many doses are in the county or available through providers.

“Some doses are distributed directly to approved vaccinators and others come through Public Health,” Dr. Hoffman said. “A streamlined tracking tool will make it easier for us to plan future vaccination clinics.”

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

Kimberly Wear

Bio:
Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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