Wednesday, March 3, 2021

More than 10K HumCo Residents Now Fully Vaccinated, County Confirms 12 New COVID-19 Cases

Posted By on Wed, Mar 3, 2021 at 3:25 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 12 new COVID-19 cases today while reporting the county has passed the milestone of fully vaccinating its 10,000th local resident.

The positive cases were reported after labs processed 278 samples with a test-positivity rate of 4.3 percent, bringing the county's case total to 3,230. The county also reported that only one local resident is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — the lowest total in months — while local intensive care unit capacity rose to 32.1 percent.

A total of 31,803 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered locally, according to a county press release, and now 7.7 percent of the local population has been fully vaccinated, with 15 percent having received at least one vaccine dose. Nearly one in three residents age 75 and older are now fully vaccinated, the county reported.

The state revised COVID-19 restrictions last week to allow the resumption of youth and recreational sports. While the state’s regulations prohibit spectators, they do allow “age-appropriate supervision” for youth sports. Today’s county press release notes that the state has not offered a specific definition for that term, so Public Health will not impose any restrictions locally on the “number of immediate family members that can attend games or practices” but asks all who do attend to maintain physical distance from people outside their household and wear facial coverings at all times.

“Humboldt County remains fully supportive of common sense rules and regulations that prevent the spread of COVID-19 but will not endorse a statewide approach that doesn’t truly take into account our local conditions and further harms small businesses that are the backbone of our community,” Public Health Director Michele Stephens said in the release.

The state of California updated its COVID risk tier assignments yesterday, 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.

But in yesterday'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.

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 3,230 cases, with 134 hospitalizations and 33 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,089 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 28.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 515,277 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 52,775 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. 3, 2021 - More Than 10,000 County Residents Fully Vaccinated; 12 New Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
More than 10,000 Humboldt County residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the latest update on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard.

A total of 31,803 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered locally. Other updates to the Dashboard include:

10,435 fully vaccinated residents represents 7.7% of the county’s total population and 9.3% of residents who are over age 16 and currently qualify for vaccination.
More than 15% of county residents have received one or more doses, which means about one out of six residents has some protection against COVID-19.
Nearly one out of three residents age 75 and over are fully vaccinated.
Vaccine data is updated each Wednesday. To access the Dashboard, go to humboldtgov.org/Dashboard. To view vaccine data only, visit humboldtgov.org/VaccineData.

Twelve new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County today. A previously recorded case was determined to be from another jurisdiction, so the total number of county residents who have tested positive now stands at 3,230.

Humboldt County Public Health officials continue to press the State of California for clarity on its recently updated Youth and Recreational Adult Sports guidance. While the state prohibits spectators for adult sports, “age-appropriate supervision” of youth sports is allowed. Given the lack of a specific definition of that term, Public Health officials will not impose any restrictions on the number of immediate family members that can attend games or practices, but ask all those who attend a youth sports event to maintain physical distance from non-household members and wear a face covering at all times.

Humboldt County Public Health Director Michele Stephens said, “Humboldt County remains fully supportive of common sense rules and regulations that prevent the spread of COVID-19 but will not endorse a statewide approach that doesn’t truly take into account our local conditions and further harms small businesses that are the backbone of our 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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