Monday, March 22, 2021

County Records 36th COVID Death, 14 New Cases

Posted By on Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 4:12 PM

Public Health reported today that a 36th Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19 — a person in their 50s.

The county also reported that laboratories have confirmed 14 new COVID-19 cases after processing 626 samples with a test-positivity rate of 2.2 percent.

On the vaccine front, the county reported last week that it expects to receive an allocation of 5,210 doses of vaccine this next week from the state.

When the county updated its vaccine numbers last week, it reported that 43,142 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered. More than 16,000 local residents had 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 last week, 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 3,433 cases, with 135 hospitalizations and 36 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,310 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 had dropped to 5.1 percent.

Nationwide, more than 29.7 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 539,517 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 56,545 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. 22, 2021 - One Death, 14 New Cases; Physical Distancing Remains 6 Feet in Most Situations
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19, and 14 additional cases have been reported since the most recent report Friday. A total of 3,433 county residents have tested positive for the virus.

The person who died was in their 50s. This marks the county’s 36th death related to COVID-19. Humboldt County Public Health and Emergency Operations Center staff extend their condolences to the person’s friends and loved ones.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health recently updated guidance for physical distancing in schools, now recommending at least 3 feet of distance between students when facial coverings are worn at all times. Distancing between students and teachers or other staff remains at least 6 feet.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said the updated recommendations are based on the latest data about COVID-19 transmission specific to school settings but do not apply to safety measures in the community more broadly.

“We have both national and international data that indicates cases that occur in schools are often transmitted from adults to kids rather than between young people,” Dr. Hoffman said, again emphasizing that these recommendations affect classroom settings only. “This narrowly applied guidance is encouraging as we get children back into the classroom, but we need to double down on the established measures elsewhere in our community to keep us healthy, keep our kids in school and keep our businesses open.”

The daily and weekly datasets on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard have been updated. Some highlights include:

The county saw a 1.8% increase in cases over the last week, down from 1.9% the previous week and 3.1% the week before that.
The confirmed case rate is 2,515 per 100,000 residents. The state and national rates are more than three times higher at 8,973 and 9,041 respectively.
The 20-29 age group represents the highest number of local cases with 803, followed by the 30-39 age group with 658 cases.

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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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