Wednesday, April 21, 2021

As Vax Uptake 'Dwindles,' Public Health Confirms Largest Daily Case Count in Months

Posted By on Wed, Apr 21, 2021 at 4:13 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 28 new COVID-19 cases today — the largest single-day tally since Feb. 11 — while sounding the alarm that vaccine uptake has "dropped significantly."

The new cases — confirmed after laboratories processed 276 samples with a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent — make 72 for the week, already eclipsing last week's 71, itself a more than doubling than the prior week's case count. As case counts have risen steadily in recent weeks, so has the county's test-positivity rate.

Meanwhile, as more vaccination doses become available to the county, which weeks ago expanded eligibility to all residents age 16 and older, the county and providers are having a difficult time filling vaccination appointments. In fact, the county recently gave San Francisco 1,0oo doses of the Pfizer vaccine that were at risk of going unused locally.

Public Health reported Friday the county expected 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.

Yesterday, public health reported that the Arcata Community Center will hold walk-in vaccination clinics on a first come, first served basis from 6 to 7 p.m. today through Sunday. (See the press release below for the schedule of which vaccine will be offered on which days.) But vaccinations will be given by appointment on all those days before 6 p.m. and, as of this morning, scores of appointment times were available for the clinics on the state's website.

The state of California, meanwhile, updated its COVID-19 risk tiers yesterday, keeping Humboldt County in the 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 state data released Tuesday showed that Humboldt County has a test positive rate of 2.3 percent (compared to 1.1 percent last week) and a daily case rate of 4.7 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's two. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1.7 percent test-positivity rate and five 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 3,659 cases, with 140 hospitalizations and 38 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,497 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. Since then, it has jumped to 5.5 percent.

Nationwide, more than 31.6 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 565,613 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 59,890 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:

April 21, 2021 - 28 New Cases Reported Today; Vaccine Uptake Dwindles

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Twenty-eight new 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 3,659. This is the highest single-day case count since Feb. 11.

Local vaccine uptake has dropped significantly since April 9 when Humboldt County opened eligibility to residents 16 and older, leaving thousands of appointment vacancies at clinics this week. This sluggish rate of uptake has prompted health officials to provide walk-in appointments today through Sunday and urge those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this first step.

Walk-ins are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, although booking an appointment is the best way to ensure a vaccine is available when you want it and to avoid wasting vaccine. Clinics are held at the Arcata Community Center, located at 321 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pkwy., with walk-in hours from 6 to 7 p.m. today through Sunday. These availabilities are for those seeking their first or second dose. Spanish and English speakers are available at every clinic.

Appointments for Moderna and Pfizer clinics this week can be made at MyTurn.ca.gov. The state portal has been updated to allow those in more remote areas of the county to view clinics on My Turn, as the search radius has been increased to 200 miles.

All county residents age 16 and older can register, although 16- and 17-year-olds can sign up only for the Pfizer vaccine. Minors must have proof of age and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The following clinics and vaccines are available by appointment and for walk-ins. Visit MyTurn.ca.gov for specific appointment dates and times.

Today — Moderna (18 and older)
Thursday — Pfizer (16 and older)
Friday — Moderna (18 and older)
Saturday — Pfizer (16 and older)
Sunday — Moderna and Pfizer (16 and older)
Lindsey Mendez, Family Nurse Practitioner and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Member said, “With supply outpacing demand for the first time since this vaccine rollout, we’re urging folks to schedule an appointment now.”

Nearly Half of Eligible Residents Have Received at Least One Dose
Nearly 50% of county residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That means almost half of Humboldt County’s eligible population has some protection against the virus.

All local vaccination data has been updated on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard. Highlights include:

84,833 vaccine doses have been administered in the county.
Approximately 80% of county residents age 75 and older have received at least one dose and are partially protected. 67% of county residents age 75 and older are fully vaccinated.
Of Humboldt County’s estimated 112,369 residents eligible to receive the vaccine, 32,813 have been fully vaccinated. That represents 24% of the total population and 29% of residents who are 16 and older and currently are eligible for vaccination.

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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About The Author

Thadeus Greenson

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

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