Tuesday, January 26, 2021

County Tracking 'Several Small Outbreaks' of COVID Cases, Nearly 200 Transmission Chains

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 12:52 PM

Public Health confirmed an additional hospitalization and 28 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the county's cumulative tally to 2,652, with 892 reported this month alone and surpassing December's single month record of 863 cases.

Humboldt County Public Health contact investigation teams are currently tracking 194 chains of transmission and several small outbreaks throughout the county, with many related to indoor gatherings, according to a news release.

"Local health officials say that cases have been reported in various settings, including workplaces and places of worship," the release states. "Indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged by the state, and county residents are urged to follow all COVID-19 safety measures until vaccine supply allows for communitywide distribution."

Meanwhile, the county is continuing to vaccinate healthcare workers, including in-house support services providers. Emergency services personnel were invited Monday to begin making appointments as part of the Phase 1B Tier 1 expansion, which will move to other groups, including teachers, as supplies allow, the release stats.

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

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

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,652 cases, with 94 hospitalizations and 27 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Twelve 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 58.8 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,313 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.

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.

Today's Humboldt County cases were confirmed after 197 samples were processed.

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:

A total of 2,652 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 28 new cases were reported today. Humboldt County Public Health contact investigation teams are tracking 194 chains of transmission and several small outbreaks throughout the county, largely related to indoor gatherings. Local health officials say that cases have been reported in various settings, including workplaces and places of worship. Indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged by the state, and county residents are urged to follow all COVID-19 safety measures until vaccine supply allows for communitywide distribution. Public Health continues to vaccinate Phase 1A health care workers, with 320 appointments scheduled today and tomorrow. Many of those receiving vaccines are In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and other caregivers who provide direct support to seniors and dependent adults. On Monday, more than 500 emergency services personnel were invited to schedule an appointment as part of Phase 1B Tier 1. While vaccinations for health care workers are ongoing, Public Health and local health care providers will expand appointments to other groups in Phase 1B Tier 1, including educators, as doses become available. All county residents who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can submit their contact information through an online interest form and be notified when an appointment is available for their priority group. A total of 9,150 county residents have submitted the form since its launch. Go to humboldtgov.org/InterestForm to complete the form. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that Humboldt County remains in the “Purple” or widespread tier under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” with an adjusted case rate of 24.3 and a positivity rate of 6.8%. CDPH also is expected to announce a new plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution statewide. More information on local impacts will be released as soon it becomes available. 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

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

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