Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Public Health Reports Five New COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Pushing County Past Single-Week Record

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2021 at 2:10 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported five new COVID-19 hospitalizations today, making 13 so far this week, already more hospitalizations than have been tallied in any single week locally since the pandemic began.

Public Health also reported it had confirmed 20 new COVID-19 cases today after processing 428 samples with a test-positivity rate of 4.7 percent. That makes 180 cases so far this week and a single-month record 912 to date in January, continuing the local case surge that began last month.

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

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Public Health reported today that efforts continue to vaccinate local healthcare and emergency services workers, with 1,000 slated to receive shots today and tomorrow, and efforts have also begun to vaccinate teachers, first those providing in-class instruction, with those currently teaching via-distance learning slated to begin receiving vaccination invitations by the middle of next month, depending on supplies.

And vaccine supply continues to be the choke point in efforts to get the 70 to 85 percent of the local adult population vaccinated that experts say is needed before officials can begin a full-scale easing of public health orders designed to slow spread of the disease. Health Officer Ian Hoffman reported to the Board of Supervisors yesterday that the county is only receiving 1,000 to 2,000 first doses of vaccine a week from the state, which is slowing the process of getting through the list of the approximately 27,000 people — including healthcare workers, first responders, educators and residents age 75 and older — currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

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

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

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,672 cases, with 99 hospitalizations and 27 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 55.9 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,378 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.

Nationally, more than 25.3 million people have been confirmed to have COVID-19, with 423,519 confirmed COVID related deaths, including 3,692 reported yesterday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Statewide, more than 3.1 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed with 37,527 related deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.

While the rates of infection and hospitalizations have slowed in recent weeks in areas of California, that hasn't been the case locally.

"We're not seeing that yet," Hoffman told the board yesterday.

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.

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:

Jan. 27, 2021 - 20 New Cases Reported Today; Vaccination Progress Continues
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Twenty additional cases of COVID-19 were reported today, bringing to 2,672 the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Humboldt County today also reported five new hospitalizations related to COVID-19 for a total of 13 this week, which is more than any previous week of the pandemic. Public Health officials pointed out that hospitalizations lag a few weeks behind an increase in cases and urged county residents to be vigilant and follow all prevention measures, noting that simple precautions can have a big impact when everyone adheres to them.

Between today and Thursday, about 1,000 health care providers and emergency services workers, including firefighters and law enforcement personnel, are scheduled to be vaccinated at Public Health clinics. An additional 250 health care providers are scheduled to receive their second dose Friday.

Educators also have started receiving vaccination appointment invitations through the Humboldt County Office of Education or their district, beginning with about 1,000 educators and support staff at districts and charter schools that are currently providing in-person education. An additional estimated 2,100 educators and support staff who are engaged in distance learning will be invited to a clinic soon. Public Health expects that all educators and support staff will have received an invitation by mid-February, depending on vaccine availability.

Other designated local vaccine providers have scheduled nearly 600 people age 75 and older for clinics this week. Those participating in this week’s clinics received invitations after filling out the county’s COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Form.

Providers approved to administer vaccine will reach out directly to their patients who are 75 and older as doses become available. Anyone, especially those who do not have a provider, can fill out the interest form to be notified when appointments are available, and more than 10,700 county residents have completed the form so far. To access the form, visit humboldtgov.org/InterestForm.

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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