Thursday, March 11, 2021

Public Health Confirms Nine New COVID-19 Cases; County to Receive 5K Vaccine Doses Next Week

Posted By on Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 4:57 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported nine new COVID-19 cases today, making 69 so far this week.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 255 samples with a test-positivity rate of 3.5 percent, bringing the county's case count to 3,335. No new hospitalizations were reported.

The county also reported today that the first vaccination clinic for the 10,000 or so workers in the local food and agriculture sector has been scheduled for next week. (Read more on that in the press release copied below.)

Additionally, the county reported it is slated to receive 5,140 doses of vaccine next week — 2,800 of the Moderna vaccine and 2,340 Pfizer. No additional Johnson and Johnson doses are expected.

The state of California, meanwhile, updated its COVI-19 risk tiers Tuesday, keeping Humboldt County in the red "substantial" tier, meaning restaurants, movie theaters, churches and other organizations are allowed to continue limited indoor operations.

As of yesterday, the county will no longer include current hospitalization numbers or available local intensive care unit capacity in its dashboard, saying it would be added back should the county see another surge in hospitalizations.

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 here.)

A total of 35,828 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered locally, as of yesterday, according to a county press release, and now 9.15 percent of the local population has been fully vaccinated — 12,441 people — with another 8.05 percent — 10,947 people — having received at least one vaccine dose. More than 40 percent of residents age 75 and older are now fully vaccinated, the county reported.

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 Tuesday, it kept Humboldt County in the state's red tier, which the county moved into Feb. 23 for the first time since January.

The state data shows the county with a seven-day average test-positivity rate of 2.3 percent and a daily case rate of 6.6 per 100,000, both of which dipped slightly from the previous week. California as a whole, meanwhile, has a 2.8 percent test-positivity rate and 8.1 cases per 100,000.

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, and a first shipment of 200 doses arrived in Humboldt County this week.

Currently, local residents over the age of 65, 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 3,335 cases, with 134 hospitalizations and 34 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,179 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 11 days of March, it dropped to 5.2 percent.

Nationwide, more than 29 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 527,726 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 54,891 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. 11, 2021 - Estimated 10,000 Food and Ag Sector Workers Move Toward Vaccination

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
The first vaccination clinic for workers in the food and agriculture sector is scheduled for next week. This sector is estimated to include 10,000 local employees in workplaces ranging from grocery stores to dairy farms, and vaccination is expected to take months due to lack of vaccine availability.

Humboldt County Public Health is partnering with another approved vaccinator to launch the first mobile clinic for this sector, which is offered by invitation only and will take place at a large-scale agricultural production facility on Friday, March 19.

Public Health will prioritize facilities at highest risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, local facilities where widespread transmission has already occurred, and settings known to be higher risk for transmission like meat, dairy and seafood producers. Public Health will coordinate clinics at larger production facilities, and some locations with fewer employees will be invited to those clinics. Workers in this sector will also be invited to mass vaccination clinics as vaccine supplies allow.

Vaccination priorities are set by the State of California, and the ability to vaccinate additional groups remains strictly limited by available supply. Without a significant increase in weekly allocation, it will be months before Humboldt County will have enough doses to vaccinate everyone in this sector.

The state continues to open industry sectors and age groups with estimated populations at rates that far exceed the doses it’s providing. After opening vaccination to locals 65 and over this week, the state plans to open to those ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions next week and add workers in the transportation sector to Phase 1B soon.

According to the California Department of Public Health (https://covid19.ca.gov/essential-workforce/), the food and agriculture sector includes the following:

“Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail that sells food or beverage products, and animal/pet food, retail customer support service, information technology support staff, for online orders, pickup/takeout or delivery.
Workers supporting restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations, including food preparation, carry-out and delivery food employees.
Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees to include those employed in food ingredient production and processing facilities; aquaculture and seafood harvesting facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging, including recycling operations and processing.
Farmers, farm and ranch workers, and agribusiness support services to include those employed in auction and sales; grain and oilseed handling, storage, processing and distribution; animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport.
Farmers, farm and ranch workers, support service workers and their supplier employees producing food supply domestically and for export to include those engaged in raising, cultivating, harvesting, packing, storing, or delivering to storage or to market or to a carrier for transportation to market any agricultural or horticultural commodity for human consumption; those engaged in producing and harvesting field crops; cannabis growers; agricultural and commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; biodiesel and renewable diesel facilities; and other agricultural inputs
Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution and ingredients used in these products including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers, and blockchain managers.
Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail.
Workers supporting the growth and distribution of plants and associated products for home gardens.
Workers in cafeterias used to feed workers, particularly worker populations sheltered against COVID-19
Workers in animal diagnostic and food testing laboratories
Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments
Government, private, and non-governmental organizations’ workers essential for food assistance programs (including school lunch programs) and government payments.
Employees of companies engaged in the production, storage, transport, and distribution of chemicals; medicines, including cannabis; vaccines; and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including seeds, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids.
Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health (including those involved in supporting emergency veterinary or livestock services); raising of animals for food; animal production operations; livestock markets; slaughter and packing plants, manufacturers, renderers, and associated regulatory and government workforce.
Transportation supporting animal agricultural industries, including movement of animal medical and reproductive supplies and material, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; and associated regulatory and government workforce
Workers who support sawmills and the manufacture and distribution of fiber and forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood and fiber products
Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution
Workers at animal care facilities that provide food, shelter, veterinary and/or routine care and other necessities of life for animals.”
This sector additionally includes:

Any employee working in a restaurant to the extent not described in the food and agriculture sector above
Veterinary services employees
Medical cannabis workers.
Public Health will continue to request 100% of the vaccine offered by the state and use every dose it’s allocated on a weekly basis.

9 New Cases Reported Today
A total of 3,335 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after nine new cases were reported today.

County Allotted 5,140 Vaccine Doses for Next Week
Humboldt County is set to receive 5,140 doses of COVID-19 vaccine for next week. Of those, 2,800 are Moderna and 2,340 are Pfizer. The county will not receive any doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.

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.

Some Safeway and CVS Pharmacy locations are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments in partnership with the federal government. Learn who is eligible for vaccination and sign up for an appointment at one of these locations by clicking on the links below.

Safeway: https://www.mhealthappointments.com/covidappt

CVS Pharmacy: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine.


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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