Monday, March 1, 2021

County Confirms 30 New COVID-19 Cases Since Friday

Posted By on Mon, Mar 1, 2021 at 3:24 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported today that it has confirmed 30 new COVID-19 cases and one new hospitalization since Friday, bringing the county's case count to 3,210.

Humboldt County confirmed 85 cases last week, making 458 for the month of February, a steep decline from January's 990 and December's 863. Today's cases were reported after labs processed 650 samples with a test-positivity rate of 4.6 percent.

According to the county's dashboard, seven local residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Local available intensive care unit capacity, meanwhile, sits at 25 percent.

Public Health also announced Thursday that Humboldt County has been allocated 4,740 additional COVID-19 vaccination doses for this week. To date, the county has administered 26,789 vaccine doses, with 7,374 local residents having been fully vaccinated and another 12,041 having received the first of the required two doses.

The state, meanwhile, announced Friday that today it would begin the process of transitioning vaccine distribution to Blue Shield, which has been contracted by the state to streamline and manage the logistics of allocating vaccines to local health departments and providers. The switch will happen in three waves, with Humboldt County, which currently ranks 28th in the state for doses administered per capita, according to a Journal analysis, falling in the third wave later this month.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine — manufactured by Johnson & Johnson — for emergency use, with shipments anticipated to begin later this week. The county reported that it will release more information about the single-use vaccine later this week.

When the state of California updated its COVID risk tier assignments last week, it moved Humboldt County into the state's red tier for the first time since January, as local officials had predicted.

The new designation means some businesses and organizations can reopen indoor operations, including restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship, at reduced capacity.

The state data shows the county with a seven-day average test-positive rate of 2.7 percent and a daily case rate of 6.3 per 100,000, compared to California overall, which has a 4.8 positivity rate and 15.2 cases per 100,000.

As is the case throughout the state and the nation, vaccination efforts continue to move slowly forward locally, with residents over the age of 70, healthcare workers, teachers and first responders currently eligible to receive their shots. The clinics remain by invitation only to control exposure risks and ensure vaccinations are administered according to the county's priority tiers, with residents urged to complete the county's vaccination interest form to be notified when they are eligible.

Residents are also urged to continue to follow COVID safety guidelines as vaccinations roll out, which could take months.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 3,320 cases, with 134 hospitalizations and 33 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,043 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 healthy patients.

The county’s test positivity rate has gone from 3.6 percent in November, to 7.3 percent in December and 9.9 percent in January, before dropping to 6.5 percent in February.

Nationwide, more than 28.4 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 511,839 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 52,194 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:
Mar. 1, 2021 - 30 New Cases Reported Since Friday

Thirty additional cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Humboldt County since Friday. A total of 3,210 residents have tested positive for the virus.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to a third COVID-19 vaccine, this one manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, with shipments from the federal government anticipated to begin this week. Public Health is developing plans for the local rollout of this new vaccine and will provide more information in the coming days. Read more about the Johnson & Johnson EUA at fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/janssen-covid-19-vaccine.

Humboldt County Public Health reached out to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) when Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance was first issued to clarify the state’s limitations on observers at practices and competitions for youth sports as well as the state’s restrictions on spectators at adult sporting events. That information will be shared as soon as CDPH clarifies the guidance.

The daily, weekly and monthly datasets have been updated on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard. Some highlights include:

The 20-29 age group remains the highest percentage of local cases at 23.2%, but the 10-19 and 40-49 age groups saw the highest weekly increase in cases with 19 and 18 respectively.
The case-doubling time has improved to 101.75 days, up from 81.75 days last Monday. This refers to the amount of time it would take for the current case count to double.
Cough, headache and diarrhea/abdominal pain/vomiting are the three most commonly reported symptoms in local cases.
Public Health officials encourage anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 but has not been exposed to someone known to have the virus to seek one of the many no-cost testing options available throughout the county. For a full list of testing options, go to humboldtgov.org/COVIDTestRegistration. Those who have been exposed to a positive case should quarantine and seek medical care if symptoms worsen.

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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