Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Report: $124 Million Needed to Transform Port of Humboldt for Offshore Wind

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 1:28 PM

Hywind floating turbine demo off the coast of Karmøy, Norway. - COURTESY OF STATOIL
  • Courtesy of Statoil
  • Hywind floating turbine demo off the coast of Karmøy, Norway.

It will cost more than $124 million to build a new multipurpose terminal in Humboldt Bay to support offshore wind energy, according to a preliminary cost estimate prepared for the Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District.

The district’s board of commissioners is slated to meet in a special session tomorrow, first in closed session to continue negotiations over the purchase of seven parcels on the Samoa Peninsula, then in open session to receive the cost estimate report prepared by the port consulting firm Moffatt and Nichol and begin planning grant applications.


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Public Health Confirms Nine New COVID-19 Cases, One New Hospitalization

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 1:28 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed nine new COVID-19 cases today, as well as a new hospitalization of a local resident in their 40s.

Today's case results came after laboratories processed 190 samples with a test-positivity rate of 4.7 percent. According to a state database, six people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including three under intensive care.

All of the Public Health vaccinations clinics scheduled this week will include the one-shot Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for those 12 to 17.

Clinic schedule:

Petrolia – Wednesday, June 30 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mattole Grange (36512 Mattole Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Public Health Confirms Seven New Cases, One New Hospitalization

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2021 at 4:58 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases today, as well as a new hospitalization.

Today's case results came after laboratories processed 30 samples with a test-positivity rate of 23.4 percent. According to a state database, seven people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including two under intensive care.

All of the Public Health vaccinations clinics scheduled this week will include the one-shot Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for those 12 to 17.

Clinic schedule:

Petrolia – Wednesday, June 30 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mattole Grange (36512 Mattole Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

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New Closures Coming to Last Chance Grade

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2021 at 3:13 PM

Slope stabilization work being done at Last Chance Grade. - CALTRANS
  • Caltrans
  • Slope stabilization work being done at Last Chance Grade.
Traversing the upper reaches of California along U.S. Highway 101 is about to become more complicated as Caltrans extends road closures to accelerate a stabilization project on a slope over the short but notorious Del Norte County section known as Last Chance Grade.

This year alone, landslides blocked the aptly named stretch south of Crescent City — which serves as a main link between the northernmost areas of the state to points south — several times.

Starting July 6, the highway will be closed at Last Chance Grade between 8 a.m. and noon, open for three hours, then shut again from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, the highway will be closed from 8 a.m. to noon.

The new schedule, according to Caltrans, is expected to “shave months off of long closures in the area” — moving the project completion date from November to the end of August — but the work can’t take place at night for a number of reasons, including worker safety.

“Even during the day, fog can have significant impacts on our work progress and worker safety. On top of that, the location of the slide also limits where we can place lights without them getting damaged by rockfall,” Caltrans wrote in a Facebook post. “We are currently removing debris at the high end of the slide which can make removing material safely impossible without proper lighting and visibility. This new accelerated schedule will hopefully advance the project to a point when extensive night work could be implemented.”

There aren’t any simple detours. The only way around is a seven hour and 320-mile-long trip via Highway 199 to Interstate 5 to State Route 299.

Troubles along the cliffside passage named for the Last Chance Slide that came down on a wagon trail built back in 1894 are nothing new, with some 200 active landslides documented in the area.

In fact, instability almost derailed the current route’s construction back in 1933, leading to talks of moving the road inland which never went forward, mainly due to cost.

Should a catastrophic failure occur, Del Norte County alone stands to lose some $300 million to $400 million per year in economic productivity, along with an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 jobs.

But there is a glimmer of hope down an albeit long road for a solution to Last Chance Grade. Local officials announced in April that a list of alternative routes had been narrowed down to two possibilities — ranging in price from $300 million to $2 billion.

Even with that milestone reached, the environmental review process and ultimate selection of an alternative is expected to happen in 2025, with an estimated opening date of 2038 — or sooner.

So, the shore-up efforts continue.

Until the new schedule starts July 6, the section will be closed Monday through Thursday from  9 a.m. to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. On Fridays, the closures run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m.

During the holiday weekend of July 2 through July 5, 30-minute delays are projected.

“By simply ‘timing it right’ to arrive at Last Chance Grade slightly before and during these open windows, travel impacts can be greatly reduced as crews continue their hard work battling the elements and performing slope stabilization work,” Caltrans states.

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Homicide Victim Identified as Trinidad Man

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2021 at 9:20 AM

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the man who died Wednesday after being dropped off at the Elk Camp Fire station near Orick with a gunshot wound as Benjamin Scott Thomas, 40, of Trinidad.

Thomas was reportedly driven to the station around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, and left there by "multiple unknown individuals," according to the sheriff's office. Lifesaving efforts at the scene were unsuccessful and gunshot wounds were later determined to be Thomas' cause of death.

The homicide case remains under investigation and the sheriff's office asks that anyone with information call 445-7251 or the crime tip line at 268-2539.
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Monday, June 28, 2021

21 New COVID-19 Cases Since Friday

Posted By on Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 4:58 PM

Public Health today reported 21 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed since Friday, making 53 since June 21, including four children ages 9 or younger.

Three people have also been hospitalized in the last week, two of whom were in their 40s and one individual in their 60s.

Today's case results came after laboratories processed 393 samples with a test-positivity rate of 5.3 percent. According to a state database, 12 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including four under intensive care.

All of the Public Health vaccinations clinics scheduled this week will include the one-shot Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer vaccine, the only one authorized for those 12 to 17.

Clinic schedule:

Manila – Tuesday, June 29 – 10 a.m. to noon Manila RV Campground (120 Mill St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Wednesday, June 30 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mattole Grange (36512 Mattole Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Trinidad – Thursday, July 1 – 2 to 6 p.m. Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Friday, July 2 – 5 to 7:30 p.m. Arcata Ball Park/Humboldt Crabs game* (888 F St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson *Free admission and a hot dog dinner to the first 100 people who get vaccinated at this clinic.

Rio Dell – Saturday, July 3 – noon to 2 p.m. Dollar General (44 W. Davis St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

To make an appointment in advance or view additional vaccination opportunities and to request help with transportation, visit www.vaccines.gov or www.myturn.ca.gov.

Last week, an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a likely link between certain mRNA vaccines and extremely rare instances of heart inflammation, which most commonly occurred in young men and ususally cleared itself or with minor treatment. Both the CDC and the FDA continue to recommendation vaccinations for those 12 and older.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,554 cases, with 208 hospitalizations and 50 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,386 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 jumped to 8.3 percent. The positivity rate for the last week is 5.3 percent.

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 testing site is moving to the Wharfinger Building on Thursday, July 1. Read more 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 JIC release below:

A total of 4,554 Humboldt County resident have tested positive for COVID-19 after 21 additional cases were reported since Friday.

Since the last weekly data update on June 21, the county has reported 53 new cases of COVID-19, including four in the 0-9 age group. Three county residents have been hospitalized with the virus over the last week. Their age ranges are as follows:

  • 2 people in their 40s
  • 1 person in their 60s.

View the latest update on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard at humboldtgov.org/Dashboard.

Public Health will hold vaccination clinics in multiple locations throughout the county over the next week. All Public Health clinics are open to walk-ins and by appointment. Sign up in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov. See the schedule of Public Health’s clinics and which vaccines are offered at each clinic below.

Manila – Tuesday, June 29 – 10 a.m. to noon
Manila RV Campground (120 Mill St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Wednesday, June 30 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mattole Grange (36512 Mattole Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Trinidad – Thursday, July 1 – 2 to 6 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Friday, July 2 – 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Arcata Ball Park/Humboldt Crabs game* (888 F St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
*Free admission and a hot dog dinner for the first 100 people who get vaccinated at this clinic.

Rio Dell – Saturday, July 3 – Noon to 2 p.m.
Dollar General (44 W. Davis St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

People age 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. A parent or guardian must accompany minor children to the clinic. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older.

COVID-19 vaccine is also available at many local pharmacies. Check availability at vaccines.gov, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to find a participating pharmacy nearby. Most pharmacies allow walk-ins.

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

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Eureka COVID-19 Testing Site Moving to the Wharfinger

Posted By on Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 4:08 PM

The Eureka COVID-19 testing site is moving from Redwood Acres to the Wharfinger Building on Thursday, with the same hours, operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

According to a news release, the testing area will be located on the lower floor of the building, known as the Bay Room, at 1 Marina Way. With the move, testing at Redwood Acres will end at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

The tests are free for both walk-ins and appointments, which can be made through OptumServe online by clicking here or by calling (888)634-1123.

As COVID-19 case rates in Humboldt County continue to outpace the rest of California, local health officials are urging residents to continue to get tested, which not only allows for early treatment of the potentially deadly virus but also limits the spread to others.

Around 54 percent of county residents are not yet vaccinated and remain susceptible, including those under 12 who are yet authorized to receive the vaccine.

There have been four COVID-19 related deaths locally in just the past two weeks, bringing the county's total to 50. According to a state database, 12 residents are currently hospitalized with the virus, including four under intensive care.

"A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to seek treatment and reduce the risk of serious illness, long-term disability or death," the county's release states. "Early detection also allows individuals to isolate themselves and reduce the chance that they will infect others."

Read the Joint Information Center release below:

The Eureka COVID-19 testing site run by OptumServe is moving to a new facility and will be located at the Wharfinger Building starting Thursday, July 1. Operating hours will remain the same, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

The new testing site will be in the Bay Room on the lower floor of the Wharfinger Building, which is located at 1 Marina Way in Eureka.

Staff will conduct testing at the current site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds until 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30, and will resume testing at the new location a 7 a.m. on Thursday, July 1.

Testing is easy and free of charge. Walk-ins are welcome, or you may schedule an appointment through OptumServe:

OptumServe is contracted by the State of California to provide testing services to rural and underserved areas of the state. Testing is available at other locations throughout the county during the week. Visit lhi.care/covidtesting for a schedule.

Currently, 54% of Humboldt County’s total population are not yet fully vaccinated and remain vulnerable to the virus. That includes all residents under the age of 12 who are too young to receive the vaccine.

Health officials stress the importance of early detection in preventing serious illness and containing the spread of COVID-19. A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to seek treatment and reduce the risk of serious illness, long-term disability or death.

Early detection also allows individuals to isolate themselves and reduce the chance that they will infect others. If you suspect you have been in contact with an infected person, it is important to get a test even if you do not have symptoms as you may still spread the infection to others.


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Crabs Sweep Midweek Series Before Hitting the Road

Posted By on Mon, Jun 28, 2021 at 10:21 AM

The Humboldt Crabs have kept their early momentum rolling into the week, starting things off with a two-game set against the Redding Tigers. The Tigers proved to be capable opponents for the hometown crustaceans and proved it through the opening stages of Tuesday night’s game when their starting pitcher Will Tasista went five innings giving up four hits and striking out five Crabs batters. Eureka local Caleb Ruiz started for the Crabs and put up a similarly impressive night striking out six himself and allowing three hits.

Crabs outfielder Josh Lauck (#11) slides into home to score off of a wild pitch against the Redding Tigers on June 23, 2021. - THOMAS LAL
  • Thomas Lal
  • Crabs outfielder Josh Lauck (#11) slides into home to score off of a wild pitch against the Redding Tigers on June 23, 2021.


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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Photos: Ferndale Pride Parade and Protest

Posted By on Sat, Jun 26, 2021 at 7:21 PM

Rainbows were everywhere in Ferndale today, as a Pride parade made its way through the Victorian Village. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies wore bright colors, carried signs and chanted "Love is love," stopping in front of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church caused a stir posting  "Hurt by LGBTQ Culture? Healing Here" on its sign. The analog message made the rounds on social media and the resulting march drew a peaceful crowd that sang, danced and waved its flags down the street. See Mark McKenna's photos in the slideshow below.

The march went down Main Street and back, and stopped at the church with the anti-LGBTQ sign. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • The march went down Main Street and back, and stopped at the church with the anti-LGBTQ sign.

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Pride Protest in Arcata Friday, Celebration in Ferndale Today

Posted By on Sat, Jun 26, 2021 at 11:50 AM

About a dozen people came out to fight hate on the corner of H and 18th streets in Arcata on Friday after posts on Nextdoor and social media told of a Pride Flag that was displayed in a garden on the same corner had been burned. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • About a dozen people came out to fight hate on the corner of H and 18th streets in Arcata on Friday after posts on Nextdoor and social media told of a Pride Flag that was displayed in a garden on the same corner had been burned.

A Pride celebration is scheduled to start at noon today in Ferndale in front of St. Mark's Lutheran Church, which posted a sign during this month that reads, "Hurt by LGBTQ Culture? Healing Here."

Participants are asked to come in their "loudest rainbow attire and with flags." June is Pride Month nationally, though events locally have been held over the years in September, when college students are around. 

The event comes on the heels of a protest yesterday at 18th and H streets in Arcata response to the destruction of LGBTQ+ flags at the community garden there. Vicki Fikes, who maintains the corner garden, found the flags destroyed earlier this week and posted about it on social media. See Mark McKenna's photos of that rally in the slideshow below.

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