Thursday, February 11, 2021

County Surpasses 3K COVID-19 Cases, Available ICU Capacity Dips Below 15%

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2021 at 3:41 PM

Humboldt County surpassed 3,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases today when Public Health reported 33 new cases, bringing the county's tally to 3,009.

While it took the county 290 days to record its first 1,000 cases, the next 1,000 came in 35 days and the next in 34 days.

And while the county reported no new COVID-19 hospitalizations today, available local county hospital intensive care unit capacity has dipped to 14.3 percent, according to the county's dashboard.

The new cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 327 samples with a test-positivity rate of 10 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 Tuesday, 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.

Public Health reported today that it is slated to receive 3,550 additional vaccine doses next week.

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 3,009 cases, with 124 hospitalizations and 32 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 14.3 percent.

The county dashboard lists 2,809 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 11 days of February, the test-positivity rate sits at 8.1 percent.

Nationwide, more than 27.1 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 470,110 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.4 million cases have been confirmed with 45,456 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. 11, 2021 - 33 Additional Cases Reported Today; County to Receive 3,550 Vaccine Doses
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
33 Additional Cases Reported Today
A total of 3,009 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 33 new cases of the virus were reported today.

County to Receive 3,550 Vaccine Doses
The State of California has allocated a total of 3,550 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Humboldt County for next week, 1,600 Moderna and 1,950 Pfizer. Public Health will use 500 of those at its second dose mass vaccination clinic, and the remainder will be allocated to local approved vaccinators.

Vaccination priority recently expanded to include additional groups, though appointments continue to be offered as vaccine supply allows. Currently, the following groups qualify for vaccination:

Phase 1A health care workers
Humboldt County residents age 70 and over
Emergency services workers
K-12 and early childhood education, including educators and support staff
Licensed child care providers.
Health care providers who are approved vaccinators are reaching out to their qualifying patients directly. Public Health is contacting individuals who are not already a part of a qualifying workforce using information submitted through the online Vaccine Interest Form. All county residents are urged to fill out the form to be notified when an appointment is available for their tier.

To complete the Interest Form in English, visit humboldtgov.org/InterestForm.

Para completar el formulario de interés de vacunas en español, visite humboldtgov.org/formulariadeinteres.

Joint Information Center Closed Friday, Open Monday
The Humboldt County Joint Information Center will be closed Friday, Feb. 12, for the county holiday, but will be open Presidents’ Day, Monday, Feb. 15, to answer COVID-related questions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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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