Friday, February 19, 2021

County Logs Lowest Weekly COVID-19 Case Total in Three Months

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 at 2:31 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported 15 new cases today along with an increase in available local intensive care unit capacity as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally decreases.

With today's results, which came after 182 samples were tested with a test-positivity rate of 8.2 percent, the county has now confirmed a total of 3,067 COVID-19 cases to date, including 85 this week. The week's case count — the county's lowest since mid November — represents a continued decrease from January, when the county was confirming 200-plus new cases a week.

According to the county's dashboard, 10 local residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including one under intensive care. Local available intensive care unit capacity, meanwhile has risen to 28.6 — up from the 10.7 percent reported yesterday.

The county's Joint Information Center also reported today that the state Department of PUblic Health has released updates guidelines for youth and adult recreational sports, which allow some to resume with safety measures in place in counties with case relates below an average of 14 new cases confirmed daily per 100,000 residents. The measures will take effect next Friday and the county will release additional information before then, according to the release.

Yesterday, 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 last week that it is slated to receive 3,550 additional vaccine doses this week, though some may have been delayed due to extreme weather in other parts of the country. 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 3,067 cases, with 130 hospitalizations and 32 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 2,907 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 19 days of February, the test-positivity rate sits at 7.1 percent.

Nationwide, more than 27.7 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 491,455 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.4 million cases have been confirmed with 48,344 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. 19, 2021 - 15 Additional Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Fifteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported today. One previously reported case was found to be from another county, so a total of 3,067 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for the virus.

State Updates Youth and Adult Recreational Sports Guidance
The California Department of Public Health today released updated guidelines on youth and adult recreational sports, which would allow community and school-based sports to resume with COVID-19 safety measures and testing protocols in place and if a county’s case rate is below 14 per 100,000 residents.

The state guidance outlines general requirements for all sports and further classifies individual sports based on their risk of COVID-19 transmission and level of contact. That classification determines which additional measures, such as frequency of testing, will be required.

Changes to the youth and adult sports guidance will take effect next Friday, Feb. 26. The Humboldt County Joint Information Center will release additional information early next week.

JIC Responds to More than 30,000 Inquiries
Since the first local case of COVID-19 was reported nearly one year ago, the Humboldt County Joint Information Center (JIC) has responded to more than 30,200 calls and emails. Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services Director Ryan Derby said diverting non-emergency calls from 911 and other dispatch systems helps preserve those systems for life-threatening emergencies.

“Responding to live calls and providing incident-related information has enabled our public safety agencies to focus on immediate life-safety concerns, calls for service and public safety coordination throughout the pandemic,” Derby said. “I’m extremely thankful to both our residents and our JIC staff for utilizing and providing this service to keep our dispatch lines clear for their intended purpose.”

JIC staff are available at 707-441-5000 to answer COVID-related questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 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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