Monday, March 8, 2021

County Confirms 42 New COVID-19 Cases; State to OK Live Performances, Sporting Events with Restrictions

Posted By on Mon, Mar 8, 2021 at 3:57 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported today that it has confirmed 42 new COVID-19 cases since Friday and that the state has issued new guidelines for outdoor live performances.

The 42 new cases were reported after labs processed 737 samples with a test-positivity rate of 5.7 percent, bringing the county's case count to 3,308. The county also reported two new COVID-related hospitalizations while removing four others from the county's cumulative hospitalization total, saying they were determined to have been hospitalized for reasons unrelated to their positive COVID-19 tests.

The county reported that four people are currently hospitalized due to the virus and local available intensive care unit capacity sits at 25 percent.

The state, meanwhile, has announced that beginning April 1 outdoor sports events and live performances will be cleared to reopen with fans and spectators, so long as facial coverings are worn at all times, venues follow tier-based capacity restrictions and provide reserved, assigned seating. (Read more in the press release below.)

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 a press release Thursday, the county expects to receive a total of 5,010 vaccine doses this week, including 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The state, meanwhile, announced last week 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.

When the state of California updated its COVID risk tier assignments last week, it kept Humboldt County in the state's red tier, which the county moved into Feb. 23 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 a March 2 press release from the county warned that these metrics, if they continued for another week, could put Humboldt County back in the state's more restrictive purple tier when the state revamps its tiers tomorrow.

"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.

Earlier this month, 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.

Currently, local residents over the age of 70, healthcare workers, teachers, food and agricultural workers 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 3,308 cases, with 133 hospitalizations and 33 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,134 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. Through the first week in March, it dropped to 4.9 percent.

Nationwide, more than 28.8 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 523,850 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 54,224 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. 8, 2021 - 42 New Cases Reported Since Friday

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
42 New Cases Reported Since Friday
Forty-two new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Humboldt County since the most recent report on Friday. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 3,308.

Four previously reported hospitalizations have been removed from the county’s count. Though all four were positive for COVID-19, the reason they went to the hospital was determined to be unrelated to the virus. Two new hospitalizations are being reported today, so the cumulative total number of local hospitalizations related to COVID-19 is 133.

Public Health Using Interest Form Submissions to Fill Vaccination Appointments
Humboldt County Public Health will hold three large-scale COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week in partnership with local health care providers and expects to administer at least 2,300 doses. Clinic appointments are by invitation only. To fill appointments, Public Health is using information submitted through the online interest form based on vaccine priorities outlined by the state.

To access the Interest Form:

English: humboldtgov.org/InterestForm
Español: humboldtgov.org/formulariadeinteres.
Other local approved vaccinators are reaching out directly to their qualifying patients to schedule vaccination appointments.

State’s Outdoor Event, Performances Guidance Takes Effect April 1
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued updated guidance to allow additional outdoor activities with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Beginning April 1, outdoor sports and outdoor live performance venues can reopen with fans and spectators in attendance as long as facial coverings are worn at all times. Some other required safety measures include:

Capacity limited based on county’s tier assignment
Visitors only allowed from immediate region or within California, depending on county’s tier assignment
Concessions ordered and served in-seat, no concourse sales
Seats reserved and assigned in advance
Workers and staff tested weekly.
Amusement parks are also eligible to reopen to in-state visitors for counties in Red Tier or better beginning April 1. View the state’s full list of activities and business tiers under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” at https://tinyurl.com/statetierchanges.

The list also outlines new, higher thresholds for tier reassignment under the “Blueprint” once 2 million vaccines have been distributed to communities hardest hit by the pandemic. CDPH anticipates that will happen in the next several days.

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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