Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Public Health Reports 13 New COVID-19 Cases, the Lowest Tally Since December

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 3:46 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported 13 new COVID-19 cases today, the lowest daily tally in more than a month, as well as a new hospitalization.

This week has now seen 100 case recorded, one death and six hospitalizations, after five deaths and 258 cases were confirmed last week, for a record 990 cases reported in January.

Today's results came after 299 tests were processed with a test positivity rate of 4.3 percent.

Yesterday's county test report included the results of antigen tests for the first time. Antigen tests look for the presence of a specific viral antigen, basically a foreign substance that triggers the immune system to produce antibodies,  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."

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.

Public Health reported that, as of Monday, it had received 17,500 vaccine doses locally and administered 16,020 of them, with the remaining 1,480 doses on hand slated to be given by providers to local residents age 75 and older. Local residents are urged to fill out a county form to register to be notified when they are eligible to receive the vaccine.

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

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

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,849 cases, with 107 hospitalizations and 31 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Eleven Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including four under intensive care. Humboldt County's ICU capacity is listed at 28.6 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,557 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.

As local caseloads have climbed in recent weeks, so has the county’s test-positivity rate, or the percentage of samples taken that come back positive for the virus, indicating it is spreading more broadly locally than it has in the past. The county’s test positivity rate has gone from 3.6 percent in November, to 7.3 percent in December, to 9.9 percent in January. Statewide, the seven-day average test-positivity rate is currently 10 percent.

Nationwide, more than 26.2 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 445,264 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.3 million cases have been confirmed with 41,811 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

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:
Feb. 3, 2021 - 13 New Cases Reported Today; More Than 16,000 Vaccine Doses Administered to Date
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Thirteen new cases were reported today, bringing to 2,849 the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus.

As of Monday, Feb. 1, Humboldt County Public Health and other local approved vaccinators have received 17,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in total and administered 16,020 doses. Local vaccinators reported having 1,480 doses on hand, which will be given by appointment to their patients age 75 and over.

All county residents are encouraged to fill out the online COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Form (humboldtgov.org/InterestForm) to be notified when an appointment is available for their tier. This especially includes those age 75 and over, those who do not have a provider, and those whose provider is not an approved vaccinator. More than 15,000 local residents have submitted the form, and a vaccination clinic scheduled for this weekend is being filled with people over the age of 75 who have already submitted their interest form.

Anyone who has questions about the form or needs assistance filling it out can call the Humboldt County Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000.

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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