Monday, May 17, 2021

Public Health Confirms 63 New COVID-19 Cases, Four New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Mon, May 17, 2021 at 3:03 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported today that it has confirmed 63 new COVID-19 cases and four new hospitalizations since Friday.

The new cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 538 samples with a test-positivity rate of 11.7 percent and come after the county confirmed 138 cases last week as a part of a recent surge.

Officials are pointing to the local presence of the B.1.1.7 variant as a reason for the recent spike in cases, with Public Health reporting last week 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, eight people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including three receiving intensive care.

Public Health reported last week that the county had 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 fully vaccinated.

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

Public Health also reported Friday 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 county announced it will hold three Pfizer clinics in the coming weeks at College of the Redwoods on May 20, May 27 and June 2, all from 2 to 6 p.m.

The state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers last 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.) Friday, the county announced it will no longer be certifying event plans, but urged organizers to follow safety measures and contact local jurisdictions with questions.

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 4,135 cases, with 175 hospitalizations and 42 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,861 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 32.7 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 582,769 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 61,510 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 17, 2021 - 63 New Cases Reported Today; California to Keep Current Mask Guidance
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Sixty-three new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County since Friday, bringing the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus to 4,135.

Public health officials continue to encourage residents, especially those who are unvaccinated, to wear a face covering and avoid large gatherings, adding that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect oneself and the community from the virus.

California will keep its current indoor masking guidance without change until June 15, the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) agency announced today.

CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the continuation of the existing guidance in a virtual news conference Monday morning. Dr. Ghaly said California reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance and decided to stay with June 15 as the date those who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask.

Three Pfizer first-dose vaccination clinics are scheduled over the next three weeks. All county residents age 12 and older can sign up to receive this vaccine at MyTurn.ca.gov. Appointments are encouraged but not required.

These Pfizer clinics will be held at College of the Redwoods, located at 7351 Tompkins Hill Road in Eureka. See the schedule of first-dose clinics below.

Thursday, May 20 – 2 to 6 p.m.
Thursday, May 27 – 2 to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, June 2 – 2 to 6 p.m.
In addition to stating a child’s age when signing up on My Turn, parents or guardians of minors must provide written consent in person at the vaccination clinic. A consent form will be provided.

Humboldt County Public Health encourages parents to talk to their kids about the COVID-19 vaccine before arriving for the appointment. CDC-recommended advice includes:

Be honest with your child. Explain that shots can pinch or sting, but that it won’t hurt for long.
Engage other family members, especially older siblings, to support your child.
Avoid telling scary stories or making threats about shots.
Remind your child that vaccines can keep him or her healthy.
Read more here: cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/visit/before-during-after-shots.html

Anyone with questions about signing up through My Turn can call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-833-422-4255.

Residents are still encouraged to contact their primary care provider to discuss vaccine-related health care. Another resource includes vaccines.gov, which locates nearby pharmacies with vaccine availability.


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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