Thursday, February 18, 2021

Public Health Confirms 19 New Cases as Local ICU Capacity Dips to 10.7%

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2021 at 3:21 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported 19 new COVID-19 cases today, making 70 so far this week, and three new hospitalizations and a further dip in local available intensive care unit capacity.

According to the county's dashboard, 12 local residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including three under intensive care, as local available ICU bed capacity sits at 10.7 percent.

With today's results, announced after 409 samples were processed with a test-positivity rate of 4.6 percent, the county's case tally stands at 3,053 roughly a year after the first local case was confirmed.

Public Health also reported with today's case count that adverse weather throughout the United States have delayed some vaccine shipments, prompting some local clinic cancelations.

"Public health and other health care providers administering COVID-19 vaccine will reach out to those impacted to reschedule vaccination once the delayed shipments arrive," state the press release, which adds that next week's allocation of vaccinations is expected to include 4,445 doses.

Earlier today, the county announced it had confirmed the presence of a never-before-seen COVID-19 variation in 16 cases associated with the catastrophic outbreak at Granada Rehabilitation and Wellness. Read more about that here.

Meanwhile, the state of California updated its COVID risk tier assignments Tuesday and Humboldt County remains in the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier with most of the rest of the state. However, Public Health reported today that Humboldt County's recent data would meet the red "substantial" risk tier metrics if it continues for another week, which could trigger the loosening of some restrictions next week. In a media availability Wednesday, county Health Officer Ian Hoffman indicated he expected this to happen.

The state data shows Humboldt County having recorded an average of 8.2 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 residents with a seven-day average test positivity rate of 4.2 percent, though the state's data lags more than a week behind local numbers. The state as a whole reported averaging 24.2 new cases per day per 100,000 residents with an average test positivity rate of 6.5 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 Friday that it is slated to receive 3,550 additional vaccine doses this week. In a subsequent press release, the county said it planned to administer 2,000 second doses of vaccine this week and urged anyone who's second vaccine dose is due within the next five days but hasn't been contacted to schedule an appointment to call the Joint Information Center at 441-5000.

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 3,053 cases, with 130 hospitalizations and 32 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 2,901 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 17 days of February, the test-positivity rate sits at 7 percent.

Nationwide, more than 27.6 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 489,067 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.4 million cases have been confirmed with 47,924 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. 18, 2021 - 19 New Cases Reported Today; Vaccine Shipments Delayed by Weather
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Nineteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported today. Two cases recorded previously were removed after they were determined to have been from another jurisdiction, so the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive is now 3,053.

Due to adverse winter weather conditions throughout the United States, many vaccine shipments have been delayed. Some local COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been cancelled as a result. Public Health and other health care providers administering COVID-19 vaccine will reach out to those impacted to reschedule vaccination once the delayed shipments arrive.

Next week’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccine is expected to include a total of 4,445 doses, —2,300 Moderna and 2,145 Pfizer. The entire Moderna allotment is slated to be administered as second doses at Public Health and provider clinics. From the Pfizer allotment, 1,170 will be used for first doses and 975 will be used for second doses.

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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About The Author

Thadeus Greenson

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

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