Friday, March 19, 2021

Public Health Confirms 13 New COVID-19 Cases, Clarifies Youth Sports Spectator Guidelines

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2021 at 3:53 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 13 new COVID-19 cases today after laboratories processed 364 samples with a test-positivity rate of 3.6 percent, bringing the county's cumulative case count to 3,419.

The county also reported that the state has updated its youth sport guidance to offer more clarity about spectators, with Health Officer Ian Hoffman saying the county came up with a plan to allow two adults per-student athletes to be in attendance. (Read more in the county's press release below.)

On the vaccine front, the county reported yesterday that the state has allocated it 5,210 doses of vaccine for next week.

The county updated its vaccine numbers Wednesday, reporting that 43,142 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered as of yesterday — an increase of 7,314 over the prior week. More than 16,000 local residents have now been fully vaccinated and 20 percent of local residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, while more than half of residents age 75 and older are fully vaccinated, the county reported.

Vaccination clinics remain by appointment only and residents are urged to fill out a vaccine interest form so they can be notified when they are eligible.

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

Data shows the county with a seven-day average test-positivity rate of 2.8 percent and a daily case rate of 8.3 per 100,000, both of which increased slightly from the previous week. California as a whole, meanwhile, has a 2.3 percent test-positivity rate and 6.5 cases per 100,000.

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.)

Currently, local residents over the age of 65, healthcare workers, teachers, first responders, food and agricultural workers, and residents ages 16 to 65 with one of a specific list of high-risk medical conditions or disabilities are eligible to receive their shots, with the first vaccine clinic for the food and ag sector set for next week. 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 3,406 cases, with 135 hospitalizations and 35 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,272 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 19 days of March, it has dropped to 5.1 percent.

Nationwide, more than 29.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 536,734 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 56,027 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 release below:


Mar. 19, 2021 - 13 New Cases Reported Today; Updates to Youth Sports Guidance Provided
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Thirteen additional cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County today, bringing the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus to 3,419.

In related news, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday updated an FAQ for Youth Sports Guidance to state “age-appropriate supervision should be limited to a single adult (or immediate family member older than the sport participant).”

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said the state released updated guidance for Youth and Recreational Sports on Feb. 19 and took nearly a month to provide this specific information on spectators. “In the absence of state guidance, we came up with a plan that would allow up to two adults to attend, with adherence to safety measures that include wearing a facial covering and distancing from non-household members,” he said. “We will continue to support common sense rules and regulations that are based in logic and what is best for Humboldt County.”

This afternoon CDPH updated its Youth Sports Guidance to clarify that sideline cheer is now allowed as a moderate-contact sport. The guidance states that sideline cheer is considered comparable to competitive cheer, and as such, should follow all requirements of other outdoor moderate-contact sports.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said the Sheriff’s Office is not here to dictate what age-appropriate supervision for youth sports looks like and will not be in attendance at these sporting events to monitor parents’ supervision of their youth athletes.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, the Sheriff’s Office has taken an educational approach to COVID-19 precautions, rather than an enforcement approach,” he said. “We feel that this approach continues to be successful in our county.”

Anyone attending youth sporting events is required to practice COVID-19 safety precautions, including maintaining social distancing, wearing a facial covering, avoiding mixing households and staying home if feeling sick.

Read the updated FAQ at cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Youth-Sports-FAQ.aspx.

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. See if there are appointments available for your age group or sector 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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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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