Monday, April 19, 2021

HumCo Records 38th COVID Death, 34 New Cases

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2021 at 4:44 PM

A 38th Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while also reporting 34 new cases of the virus have been confirmed since Friday.

The cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 492 samples with a test-positivity rate of 6.9 percent, and come after Public Health confirmed a total of 71 cases last week. Two new hospitalizations were also reported today.

Public Health reported Friday the county expects to receive 7,440 doses of vaccine this week — a marked decrease from the more than 11,000 received last week. Those wanting a vaccine can also register online through www.myturn.ca.gov, and Public Health reports there are "many" appointments available.

The county also reported that a geofencing function on the state's website has posed complications for rural residents trying to make vaccine appointments and suggests county residents enter only "Humboldt County" on the "Let's Find An Appointment" page rather than their zip code. Anyone with questions can call the Joint Information Center at 441-5000.

The county also has walk-in vaccination clinics scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at the Arcata Community Center.

The county also announced Friday that 10 local residents have contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated in what the Centers for Disease Control has dubbed "breakthrough" cases, some 5,800 of which have been reported nationwide in the 77 million people fully vaccinated to date.

These breakthrough cases are expected, officials say, noting that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have proven incredibly effective at preventing severe illness and death, mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic infection is possible. And that's why officials still urge residents to follow prevention measures, like mask wearing, distancing and hand washing , even after being vaccinated.

Earlier this month, the county opened vaccine eligibility to all local residents age 16 and over almost a week in advance of the state's planned expansion and announced that the county was slated to receive 11,000 vaccine doses this week, a record to date. Anyone wanting to get vaccinated is encouraged to sign up on the state's My Turn vaccine registry.

Last week, Public Health announced it was following federal guidance and "pausing" administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women in other areas of the country reported getting blood clots within weeks of receiving the vaccine.

The county's pause of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will continue for the next week while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviews additional information about the six cases.

Humboldt County still sits the state's moderate or "orange" tier it entered earlier this month, which allowed businesses such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to increase indoor operations while allowing others — including bowling alleys and family fun centers — to open.

The change came after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state had met its goal of administering 4 million doses to socio-economically challenged areas, a trigger for increasing the epidemiological tier thresholds.

The state data released on April 13 showed that Humboldt County has a test positive rate of 1.1 percent (compared to 2 percent last week) and a daily case rate of 2 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's 4.6. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1.8 percent test-positivity rate and 4.8 cases per 100,000.

On April 1, the state cleared outdoor sports events and live performances 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.)

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 3,621 cases, with 139 hospitalizations and 38 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,493 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. In March, it dropped to 4.5 percent. Through the first seven days of April, it sat at 1.9 percent.

Nationwide, more than 31.4 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 564,292 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 59,772 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

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:

One Death, 34 New Cases Reported Since Friday
A Humboldt County resident in their 70s has died with COVID-19, and 34 additional cases of the virus have been reported since Friday. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 now stands at 3,621.

This marks the 38th death related to COVID-19 in Humboldt County. Public Health and Emergency Operations Center staff share their sympathies with the person’s friends, caregivers and family.

Temporary Fix Developed for ‘My Turn’ Issue
Many COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available locally this week, and Humboldt County residents are encouraged to sign up now at MyTurn.ca.gov. Don’t wait to be contacted. Though My Turn is designed to provide notifications of upcoming openings, the best way to find an available appointment is to check the website regularly.

The state’s My Turn portal has put in place geofencing that restricts people who live more than 40 miles from a clinic site from viewing available appointments, which has meant that residents of much of Southern Humboldt have been unable to see or schedule appointments. This limitation has affected many, if not all, rural California counties, and local Public Health officials are addressing it directly with the state.

Until the state resolves the issue, when prompted to “Enter your address or zip code,” county residents should enter only “Humboldt County” on the “Let’s Find an Appointment” page of the My Turn website, the third page of the appointment scheduler. This means residents will input “Humboldt County” in two different places.

Anyone with questions can call the state’s COVID-19 Hotline at 1-833-422-4255 or call the Humboldt County Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000.

There are alternatives to My Turn, as well. Walk-in vaccination hours are scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at the Arcata Community Center, which is located at 321 Dr. Martin Luther King, Pkwy. Also, the federal government supports scheduling vaccinations at local pharmacies through https://vaccinefinder.org/.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Remains ‘Paused’
Administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still on hold. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to review cases of a rare but serious blood clot that developed in six women after they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he anticipates a decision about whether to continue the pause will be made when the committee meets Friday.


View the Humboldt County Data Dashboard online at humboldtgov.org/dashboard, or go to humboldtgov.org/DashboardArchives to download today’s data.

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

Some Safeway, CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s and Walmart locations are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Learn who is eligible for vaccination and see if there are appointments available at one of these locations by clicking on the links below.

Safeway: mhealthappointments.com/covidappt
CVS Pharmacy: cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine
Rite Aid: https://www.riteaid.com/covid-19
Walgreen’s: walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19
Walmart: walmart.com/cp/1228302

Sign up for COVID-19 vaccination: MyTurn.ca.gov
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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