Thursday, May 13, 2021

Public Health Confirms 45 New COVID-19 Cases, Another Hospitalization

Posted By on Thu, May 13, 2021 at 3:56 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 45 new COVID-19 cases today, making 112 so far this week, and reported another new hospitalization.

The cases were reported after laboratories processed 288 samples with a test-positivity rate of 15.6 percent. This week's cases come amid a recent surge that saw 86 confirmed last week and a combined 267 the two prior weeks.

Officials are pointing to the local presence of the B.1.1.7 variant as a reason for the recentsurge in cases, with Public Health reporting Friday that genomic sequencing has identified more than 40 local cases of the variant, which is associated with a 50 percent increase in transmission and more severe illness.

According to a state database, 10 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including four receiving intensive care.

Public Health reported yesterday that the county has now administered more than 107,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 55 percent of residents ages 16 and older having received at least one dose and 44 percent of those eligible now fully vaccinated.

Health officials continue to urge Humboldt residents to get tested, with more screening sites opened throughout the region.

Public Health also reported today that it has requested 1,170 additional doses  of the Pfizer next week through Blue Shield, the state's third-party administrator, though there is no guarantee it will receive all of them. The county specifically requested the Pfizer doses in preparation of the expansion of vaccination to 12 to 15 year olds, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently authorized. Residents needing to schedule a first or second dose appointment are encouraged to sign up through www.vaccines.gov.

The state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers Tuesday and, despite escalating case rates, kept Humboldt County in the "moderate" or orange tier it entered last 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 showed that Humboldt County has a test positive rate of 4.2 percent (down from 7.4 percent last week) and a daily case rate of eight per 100,000 compared to the prior week's 12.8. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1.2 percent test-positivity rate and 3.7 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.) Today, the county announced it will no longer be certifying event plans, but urged organizers to follow safety measures and contact local jurisdictions with questions. (Read more in the press release at the bottom of this post.)

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 4,046 cases, with 171 hospitalizations and 41 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,833 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, it then jumped to 7 percent.

Nationwide, more than 32.6 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 580,837 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 61,351 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 and other newly opened screening site information can be found here

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:

May 13, 2021 - 45 New Cases Reported Today; County Requests 1,170 Vaccine Doses for Next Week

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Forty-five new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County today, the highest single-day report since January 28. One previously reported antigen-positive case was confirmed through PCR testing and has been reclassified as such to avoid duplication of cases. The total number of county residents who have tested positive now stands at 4,046.

Local health officials said that given the amount of virus circulating in the community, county residents should avoid large gatherings and get tested if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status. They emphasized that getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent serious illness from the virus.

County residents age 18 and older can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a clinic scheduled Friday at the Samoa Women’s Club. The facility is located at 115 Rideout Ave., and clinic hours are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but making an appointment in advance is encouraged. Sign up at MyTurn.ca.gov.

With thousands of vaccine doses on hand, Humboldt County Public Health will not request any Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week from the State of California. Public Health will ask for an additional 1,170 Pfizer doses in preparation for the expansion of vaccination to 12- to 15-year-olds.

Both the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have authorized the Pfizer vaccine for anyone age 12 and up. The Western States Scientific Review Workgroup endorsed the move, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that “all eligible children, teens, family and household members be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Public Health is planning to hold three Pfizer vaccination clinics over the next three weeks. Clinic hours and location will be posted to My Turn as soon as they’re finalized. County residents age 12 and older who would like to be vaccinated sooner can go to vaccines.gov to check availability of the Pfizer vaccine at local pharmacies.

The CDC today released “Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals.” The new guidance states, in part, that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in any setting, except “where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” This exception applies to California, because, as of now, the state requires masks to be worn in crowded outdoor events and in all indoor public settings. Changes to these state requirements will be shared as they are updated.

Read the CDC’s guidance in full at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html#anchor_1615134420389.


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.


Sign up for COVID-19 vaccination: MyTurn.ca.gov
Check for vaccine availability at a local pharmacy: Vaccines.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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