Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Public Health Confirms 9 New COVID-19 Cases, Warns Humboldt Could Move Back into Purple Tier Next Week

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2021 at 2:43 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed nine new COVID-19 cases today and no new hospitalizations, bringing the county's cumulative case tally to 3,219.

Meanwhile, the county reported the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 locally has dropped to three — the lowest in weeks.

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 142 samples with a test-positivity rate of 6.3 percent.

The state of California also updated its COVID risk tier assignments today, keeping Humboldt County into the state's red tier, which the county moved into last week for the first time since January.

The designation allowed 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-positivity rate of 3 percent and a daily case rate of 8.2 per 100,000, both of which rose slightly from the previous week. California as a whole, meanwhile, has a 3.7 test-positivity rate and 10.2 cases per 100,000.

In today's press release, the county warned that these metrics could put Humboldt County back in the state's more restrictive purple tier if they continue for another week.

"Health officials urge residents to limit the spread of COVID-19 by recommitting to prevention measures, adding that these measures support businesses staying open and protect the health of the community," the release states.

According to the county's dashboard, local available intensive care unit capacity, meanwhile, sits at 17.9 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.

In its press release, the county said it continues to prepare for an "anticipated increase in vaccine allocation" and held a clinic last week at which it vaccinated 1,000 county residents in an eight-hour stretch.

Currently, local 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 3,219 cases, with 134 hospitalizations and 33 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,064 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 513,122 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 52,497 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. 2, 2021 - 9 Additional Cases Reported Today

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 3,219 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after nine new cases were reported today.

Humboldt County Public Health continues to scale up COVID-19 vaccination clinics as vaccine supply allows. To prepare for an anticipated increase in vaccine allocation and assist planning for future mass-vaccination efforts, Public Health vaccinated 1,000 county residents in about eight hours at a single clinic last week. This week, Public Health and local health care partners are expected to administer 2,300 doses at five large-scale clinics in addition to doses administered directly by local approved vaccinators to their patients.

The California Department of Public Health today reported that Humboldt County has accumulated a week of metrics to move to a more restrictive tier under the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” with a positivity rate of 3.0% and an adjusted case rate of 8.2 per 100,000 residents. That means if local virus data does not improve, the county could be reassigned to the “Purple” or Widespread tier as early as next week. Health officials urge residents to limit the spread of COVID-19 by recommitting to prevention measures, adding that these measures support businesses staying open and protect the health of the community.

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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