Friday, February 5, 2021

Public Health Reports 11 New COVID Hospitalizations, Warns Against Super Bowl Gatherings

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2021 at 2:15 PM

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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 30 new COVID-19 cases and 11 new hospitalizations, including five people under the age of 50 and two of patients in their 20s.

"Humboldt County Public Health officials said this increase in hospitalizations is a reminder that anyone can develop symptoms of COVID-19 that require medical treatment, especially those with underlying health conditions," a county press release states. "They went on to urge county residents to continue following safety measures to prevent infections, adding that cases and hospitalizations often follow gatherings, celebrations and events like those typically associated with this weekend’s Super Bowl."

This week saw a total of 157 cases recorded, one death and 17 hospitalizations, after five deaths and 258 cases were confirmed last week, for a record 990 cases reported in January.

Today's results came after 302 tests were processed with a test positivity rate of 9.9 percent.

Wednesday'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.

yesterday, Public Health reported the county is slated to receive 3,975 doses of vaccine next week — 3,000 Moderna and 975 Pfizer — and Public Health plans to reserve 870 doses for large-scale clinics and distribute the rest to approved local vaccinators.

Regardless of who's administering vaccines, the county reminds residents that clinics are by appointment or invitation only at this point, based on the state's prioritization schedule, and walk-ups will not be accommodated.

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 2,907 cases, with 118 hospitalizations and 31 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Fourteen 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 35.7 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,610 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. Through the first five days of February, the test-positivity rate sits at 8.6 percent. Statewide, the seven-day average test-positivity rate is currently 10 percent.

Nationwide, 26.4 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 449,020 related deaths, including 3,756 reported yesterday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.3 million cases have been confirmed with 42,466 deaths as of yesterday, 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. 5, 2021 - 30 New Cases Reported Today; Hospitalizations Tick Up
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 2,907 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 30 additional cases were reported today. Eleven new hospitalizations related to COVID-19 also were reported today:

Two people in their 20s
One person in their 30s
Two people in their 40s
Two people in their 50s
One person in their 60s
Three people in their 70s.
Humboldt County Public Health officials said this increase in hospitalizations is a reminder that anyone can develop symptoms of COVID-19 that require medical treatment, especially those with underlying health conditions. They went on to urge county residents to continue following safety measures to prevent infections, adding that cases and hospitalizations often follow gatherings, celebrations and events like those typically associated with this weekend’s Super Bowl.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says gathering virtually or with one’s own household is the safest way to watch the Super Bowl this year. For those who do choose to host or attend a gathering, health officials recommend the following:

Stay home if you are sick or have been near someone who thinks they may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus.
Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth with two or more layers. Masks should be worn indoors and outdoors, except when eating or drinking.
Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, utensils and condiments. Avoid buffets and self-serve food options.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Avoid direct contact—including handshakes, hugs and chest bumps—with those not from your household.
Go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays/small-gatherings.html for more information on celebrating safely.

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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