Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Public Health Confirms Seven New Cases as HumCo's Infection Numbers Fall to State's Worst

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2021 at 4:05 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases today after laboratories processed 73 samples with a test-positivity rate of 9.6 percent.

Today's cases bring this week's tally to 57, after Public Health reported yesterday that 50 cases, one new death and four new hospitalizations had been confirmed since Friday. Last week, the county confirmed 127 new cases and eight new hospitalizations.

The county also reported today that Humboldt remains in the state's orange "widespread" COVID-19 risk tier, despite rising numbers that land Humboldt County's case and test-positivity rates as the worst of California's 58 counties.

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.

The county reported Friday that state officials believe California is on track to move beyond its current blueprint for COVID-19 restrictions June 15, after which almost all business sectors can resume usual operations with limited exceptions, mostly for large events with 5,000 attendees or more. But the reopening will add risk for non-vaccinated individuals, and the state is urging residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Public Health reported last week that the county has administered more than 110,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 38 percent of local population now fully vaccinated, including nearly 75 percent of residents over the age of 65. Further, Public Health reported that residents can now text their ZIP code to 438829 or call (800) 232-0233 to find a pharmacy near them offering the vaccine, and the county has two Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled at College of the Redwoods on May 27 and June 2, both from 2 to 6 p.m. The county is also urging employers to play a part in getting employees vaccinated. (Read more about that in the press release copied below.)

The county currently has more than 13,500 vaccine doses on hand and said did not request additional doses from the state for this week.

Health officials continue to urge Humboldt residents to get tested, with more screening sites opened throughout the region. Residents needing to schedule a first or second vaccine appointment are encouraged to sign up through www.vaccines.gov.

The state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers today 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 7 percent and a daily case rate of 12.5 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's nine. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1 percent test-positivity rate and 2.8 cases per 100,000.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,248 cases, with 183 hospitalizations and 43 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,019 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 before inching back up to 5.9 percent in April. In May, it has jumped to 8.3 percent.

Nationwide, more than 32.9 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 587,830 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 61,770 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 [email protected] or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at [email protected] 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 25, 2021 - 7 New Cases Reported; Humboldt Stays in ‘Orange’ Tier Despite Worst Data in the State
707-441-5000 ; [email protected] ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County today out of 73 total tests run. One previously reported case was found to be from another jurisdiction, and another was determined to be a false positive. Both have been removed from the county’s count. The total number of county residents who have tested positive is 4,253.

Humboldt County remains in the “Orange” or Moderate tier under the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” with a positivity rate of 7% and an adjusted case rate of 12.2 per 100,000 residents. Both metrics are the highest of all 58 California counties.

Though the county has accrued one week of worsening metrics to move to the “Red” tier, health officials point out that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) now evaluates hospital capacity, which is not strained at this time, before making tier reassignments. Officials say it is unlikely CDPH will move any county to a more restrictive tier before the “Blueprint” sunsets next month. They continue to encourage residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Because employers play an important role in vaccination, the state recently launched the “Employer Vaccination Toolkit,” a web-based portal with information about COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, educational materials and an online form to request support for vaccination of employees.

Employers are encouraged to complete a survey about their worksite’s vaccination needs. State staff will review the request and, depending on available resources, connect a workplace with a local provider who can vaccinate their staff, organize an on-site clinic, or direct the business to a scheduled clinic or pharmacy nearby. Learn more about the program at saferatwork.covid19.ca.gov/employer-vaccination-toolkit.

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 [email protected] 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

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

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