Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Humboldt Marks 31st COVID Death

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 5:08 PM

Humboldt County Public Health today confirmed the death of an individual in their 60s and 22 new COVID-19 cases, including 12 detected with antigen tests.

Antigen tests, which look for the presence of a specific viral antigen, basically a foreign substance that triggers the immune system to produce antibodies, are faster and can produce results in as little as 15 minutes but are generally considered less sensitive, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The other test used is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR), test that requires laboratory processing.

"Antigen tests are most reliable when used for people who are experiencing symptoms," a news release from the county's Joint Information Center. "Public Health recently began distributing thousands of rapid antigen tests to local health care providers to assist them in quickly determining if someone has contracted the virus, and enough results have been returned to report the data."

Meanwhile, health officials says vaccination efforts are being slowed down due to limited supplies.

A total of 3,775 doses are expected to arrive locally by the end of this week, with those going to healthcare workers, first responders, those age 75 and over as well as in-person educators and support staff but the Moderna pause has left a backlog of people in line for a second dose, meaning fewer first shots going out this month.

Multiple invitation-only COVID-19 vaccination clinics are planned Wednesday through Sunday across the region.

Residents are urged to continue to follow COVID safety guidelines as vaccinations roll out, which could take months.

This week has seen 87 case recorded, one death and five hospitalizations.

Five deaths and 258 cases were confirmed last week, for a record 990 reported in January. One recently identified case has been removed due to a lab reporting issue, leaving the county's total number at 2,836.

Today's results came after 93 tests were processed.

Last week, the county noted that contact investigation teams were tracking nearly 200 chains of transmission and several small outbreaks throughout the county, with many related to indoor gatherings.

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

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,836 cases, with 106 hospitalizations and 31 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Seven Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including three under intensive care. Humboldt County's ICU capacity is listed at 17.9 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,510 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 county's Joint Information Center, last week saw a 6.4 percent increase in cases, with the 20-29 age group continuing to represent the largest percentage of local cases at just over 24 percent. The 10-19 age group saw the highest increase in cases since last week with 38 new infections.

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.

California has a case rate of 47.7 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 10 percent in data released today, while Humboldt has a case rate of 20.9 cases per 100,000 and a 7.4 percent positivity rate.

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:
A Humboldt County resident in their 60s has died with COVID-19, marking the 31st death related to the virus in Humboldt County. Public Health and Emergency Operations Center staff share their sympathies with the individual’s friends, family and caregivers. Health officials advise that regular screening for COVID-19 continues to be a crucial tool to reduce spread in the community.

There are two types of tests used to determine if someone is infected with COVID-19—a diagnostic, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR), test that requires laboratory processing, and an antigen test that provides results in 15 minutes. Antigen tests are most reliable when used for people who are experiencing symptoms. Public Health recently began distributing thousands of rapid antigen tests to local health care providers to assist them in quickly determining if someone has contracted the virus, and enough results have been returned to report the data. Twenty-two new cases were reported today, 10 using a PCR test and 12 based on antigen testing. One previously recorded case was removed due to a lab reporting issue, so a total of 2,836 county residents have tested positive for the virus. Beginning today and going forward, antigen test results will be reported each weekday. Positive results from both test types will be combined and included in the daily and cumulative case counts. Antigen test results have also been incorporated into two metrics on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard (humboldtgov.org/dashboard)—the Daily Confirmed Case count and the Cumulative Confirmed Case count, which is further broken down by test type. All other information on the dashboard reflects only PCR tests, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Public Health Supporting Provider-Based Vaccine Clinics This Week

Multiple invitation-only COVID-19 vaccination clinics are planned Wednesday through Sunday for approximately 1,450 in-person educators, school support staff working in person, people age 75 and over, health care workers and emergency services workers. Public Health is supporting these clinics in coordination with St. Joseph Health Medical Group, Southern Trinity Health Services and Mad River Community Hospital.

Additionally, local providers who are approved vaccinators are reaching out directly to their patients age 75 and over to schedule appointments. Appointments for first doses will slow through the month of February as thousands of county residents become due for their second dose, while vaccine supply remains limited across the state and country. Public Health officials will work closely with partners and providers to ensure that second doses are administered within 42 days of the first, which is the timeframe recommended by the CDC.

Humboldt County Remains in ‘Purple’ Tier

Today, the California Department of Public Health announced that Humboldt County remains in the “Purple” or widespread tier under the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” with an adjusted case rate of 22.7 and a positivity rate of 7.4%.

To read more about requirements under the purple tier, go to cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID-19/Dimmer-Framework-September_2020.pdf. 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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