Friday, January 29, 2021

Humboldt Marks 30 COVID Deaths, Nearly 1K Cases in January

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 2:30 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported three additional COVID-19 related deaths today and 29 addition cases, bringing the week's total to 262 and a record 994 so far in January.

One of the individuals who died was in their 60s and two were in their 70s.

Today's results came after 257 tests were processed.

The county reported earlier this week that contact investigation teams are currently tracking 194 chains of transmission and several small outbreaks throughout the county, with many related to indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to vaccinate local healthcare and emergency services workers and those 75 or older, with more than 1,700 slated to receive shots through Sunday, 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.

"Vaccinations for some in-person kindergarten through 12th-grade educators and support staff began yesterday, and additional vaccination clinics are scheduled for this group this weekend," a news release from the county's Joint Information Center states. "Distance learning educators and support staff are expected to start receiving vaccination invitations by mid-February."

Mad River Community Hospital is asking people not to come to its scheduled COVID-19 vaccination clinics unless they have received an invitation directly from their primary healthcare provider or been referred to the clinic by Humboldt County Public Health or their employer. (Read more about what prompted the hospital's request here.)


Health Officer Ian Hoffman reported to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday 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 this week, meanwhile, Humboldt County remains in the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,754 cases, with 101 hospitalizations and 30 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Thirteen Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including two under intensive care. Humboldt County's ICU capacity is listed at 25 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,416 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.

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 Tuesday.

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's release below:
Three Humboldt County residents have died with COVID-19, and 29 additional cases were reported today. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus is now 2,754. One of the people who died was in their 60s, and two were in their 70s.

On behalf of Public Health and the Emergency Operations Center, staff extend their condolences to the friends, family members and medical professionals who cared for these residents.

So far this week, more than 900 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at Public Health clinics with more than 420 first and second doses scheduled for today. Additionally, partners have administered hundreds of vaccines this week and are expected to vaccinate an additional 400 residents at clinics through the weekend. Vaccinations for some in-person kindergarten through 12th-grade educators and support staff began yesterday, and additional vaccination clinics are scheduled for this group this weekend. Distance learning educators and support staff are expected to start receiving vaccination invitations by mid-February.

Data is currently being gathered for child care and early education providers who are expected to start receiving vaccine clinic invites in mid- to late February. Residents who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can fill out the vaccine interest form at humboldtgov.org/InterestForm to be notified when appointments are available for their tier. Businesses or organizations designated for priority distribution by the state are encouraged to call the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000 to learn which form should be used. 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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Kimberly Wear

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

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