Thursday, March 4, 2021

First Johnson & Johnson Vaccines Expected to Arrive in HumCo Next Week

Posted By on Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 4:04 PM

Public Health confirmed 16 new COVID-19 cases today and reported it expects the county to receive more than 5,000 vaccine doses next week from the state, including Humboldt County's first batch of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine.

The positive cases were reported after labs processed 445 samples with a test-positivity rate of 3.6 percent, bringing the county's case total to 3,246. The county also reported that only one local resident is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 — the lowest total in months — while available local intensive care unit capacity sits at 25.2 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.

According to today's press release, the county expects to receive a total of 5,010 vaccine doses next week, including 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The state, meanwhile, announced yesterday that it is again revamping its vaccination distribution and re-opening strategies to prioritize making sure residents of socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of the state have access to vaccines. Read more about the move and how it may benefit Humboldt here.

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 Tuesdays'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.

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 3,246 cases, with 134 hospitalizations and 33 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,097 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 28.6 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 517,224 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 53,048 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. 4, 2021 - 16 Additional Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 3,246 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after 16 new cases were reported today.

The State of California has allocated Humboldt County a total of 5,010 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for next week. Of those doses, 3,510 are Pfizer, 1,300 are Moderna and 200 are Johnson & Johnson, the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use. Humboldt County Public Health is planning to use 1,430 doses for its large-scale vaccination clinics. The remainder will be distributed to approved local vaccinators.

Vaccination priority now includes those who work in higher education either as educators or support staff. Appointments for vaccination are invitation only, and those invitations are intended only for the recipient. Humboldt County residents who meet state qualifications for vaccination include:

People age 70 and over
Health care workers
Emergency services personnel
K-12 and early childhood education workers, including educators and support staff
Licensed child care providers
Higher education.
Residents who are not already part of a qualifying workforce can sign up to be notified when a vaccination appointment is available for their age group by filling out the COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Form.

To complete the Interest Form in English, visit humboldtgov.org/InterestForm.

Para completar el formulario de interés de vacunas en español, visite humboldtgov.org/formulariadeinteres.

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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