Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Public Health Confirms 16 COVID-19 Cases, Two New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2021 at 2:50 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 16 new COVID-19 cases today — making 69 so far this week — as well as two new hospitalizations, making six this week.

The new cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 280 samples with a test-positivity rate of 5.7 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 yesterday, 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 yesterday, 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.”

Public Health reported today that while the county has been allocated 20,960 doses of Moderna and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines to date, it has been able to administer 21,230 of them because a "sixth dose can often be extracted from each vial of the Pfizer 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 2,976 cases, with 124 hospitalizations and 32 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Fifteen 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 21.4 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,790 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 10 days of February, the test-positivity rate sits at 7.91 percent.

Nationwide, more than 27 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 466,465 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.4 million cases have been confirmed with 44,995 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 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. 10, 2021 - 16 New Cases Reported Today; More Than 21,000 Vaccinations Given to County Residents
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 2,976 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 16 additional cases were reported today.

As of Monday, Feb. 8, Humboldt County has been allocated 20,960 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including Pfizer and Moderna. Because a sixth dose can often be extracted from each vial of the Pfizer vaccine, Public Health and other approved local vaccinators have maximized the state’s allocation and administered a total of 21,230 doses.

Local health care providers who are approved to administer vaccine are reaching out to their qualifying patients directly to schedule vaccination appointments.

Public Health is using information submitted through the online Vaccine Interest Form to fill slots at its mass vaccination clinics. County residents are encouraged to fill out the form at humboldtgov.org/InterestForm to be notified when an appointment is available for their tier.

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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