Tuesday, February 9, 2021

County Reports Lowest Single-Day COVID Tally Since November

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2021 at 3:47 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed five new COVID-19 cases today — the lowest daily tally since Nov. 18 — though the county did announce two new hospitalizations, making four this week.

The new cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 107 samples with a test-positivity rate of 4.7 percent.

Local case counts have slowed in recent weeks, with the county reporting 157 new cases last week, which came on the heels of 258 the week prior and the county's averaging more than 31 cases per day in January. Hospitalizations, which tend to lag weeks behind confirmed case numbers, continue to rise locally, with the county having reported a single-week record 17 last week.

The state of California, meanwhile, updated its COVID-19 risk tiers today, with Humboldt and all but five other counties remaining in the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier.

The state data shows Humboldt County having recorded an average of 15.9 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 residents with a seven-day average test positivity rate of 5.2 percent, though the state's data lags more than a week behind local numbers. The state as a whole reported averaging 33.1 new cases per day per 100,000 residents with an average test positivity rate of 8.5 percent.

Vaccination efforts, meanwhile, continue to move slowly forward, with residents over the age of 75, healthcare workers, teachers and first responders currently eligible to receive their shots. In a press release yesterday, Public Health urged any local residents 75 and older who haven't been contacted by their primary care provider or who don't have one to call the Joint Information Center at 441-5000 to schedule a COVD-19 vaccination.

In a press release today, Humboldt County Public Health Director Michelle Stephens urged residents to do whatever they can to keep their vaccination appointments once they're made.

“Missed appointments slow vaccination progress,” she said, adding that both vaccines currently in circulation have stringent storage and handling requirements, so once they’ve been distributed for a clinic, they cannot be re-stored for future use. “No doses go to waste, so if you miss your appointment, your vaccine is given to someone else. But that means you’ll have to schedule a new appointment, which may not be available in the timeframe you need.”

As of Feb. 1, Public Health 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.

Last week, Public Health reported the county was slated to receive 3,975 doses of vaccine this 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.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,960 cases, with 122 hospitalizations and 32 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Twelve 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 25 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,765 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.

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 nine days of February, the test-positivity rate sits at 8.1 percent.

Nationwide, 26.9 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 463,659 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.4 million cases have been confirmed with 44,477 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

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.

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 [email protected] or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at [email protected] 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. 9, 2021 - Only 5 New Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; [email protected] ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Only five additional cases of COVID-19 were reported today, bringing to 2,960 the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive for the virus. This is the lowest single-day report since Nov. 18.

Health Officials Stress Importance of Keeping Vaccination Appointments

Humboldt County Public Health continues to use every dose of the COVID-19 vaccine it is allocated on a weekly basis and will begin mass vaccinations of second doses for health care workers, emergency services workers and in-person educators, among others, this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that second doses should be given no later than 42 days after the first. Because of this narrow window, Public Health Director Michele Stephens said it is vital that people show up for their vaccination appointments.

“Missed appointments slow vaccination progress,” Stephens said. She added that both vaccines currently in circulation have stringent storage and handling requirements, so once they’ve been distributed for a clinic, they cannot be re-stored for future use. “No doses go to waste, so if you miss your appointment, your vaccine is given to someone else. But that means you’ll have to schedule a new appointment, which may not be available in the timeframe you need.”

“We want to get the people who were prioritized early on fully vaccinated so we can expand to other groups, like people over 65 and workers in the food and agriculture sector,” Stephens said. “To do that, we need every member of our community to schedule an appointment when offered and do everything they can to keep that appointment.”

Humboldt County Remains in ‘Purple’ Tier

Today, the California Department of Public Health updated county tier assignments under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Humboldt County remains in the “Purple” or widespread tier with an adjusted case rate of 16.9 and a positivity rate of 5.2%. For a full list of requirements under the purple tier, go to covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.

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 [email protected] 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

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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