Friday, June 4, 2021

HumCo Records 45th COVID Death, 17 New Cases.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 4, 2021 at 2:17 PM

For the second consecutive day, Public Health has reported that a Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19, making 45 to date through the pandemic.

The resident was in their 60s, Public Health reported, while also confirming 17 new cases of the virus were confirmed after laboratories processed 269 samples with a test-positivity rate of 6.3 percent.

The county also announced Wednesday that hundreds of vaccine appointments remain open and it will be holding clinics from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Eureka High School and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jun 9 at the Mattole Grange. (More details on those below.) Last week, state officials announced vaccinated residents will be eligible to receive millions of dollars in prizes, including 10 payouts of $1.5 million each, in a drawing June 15.

Officials are pointing to the local presence of the B.1.1.7 variant as a reason for the recent spike in cases that saw 440 confirmed in May, with Public Health reporting recently 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 two receiving intensive care.

Public Health also reported today that the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health approved revisions yesterday to its workplace safety regulations, which apply to most workers in the state. The requirements generally allow workers who are fully vaccinated to work unmasked in settings where everyone else in the workplace is vaccinated and symptom free. They also lift physical distancing requirements in indoor settings after July 31, but require employers to make N95 masks available to any unvaccinated employees. (More on these in the press release below.)

The county reported last week 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 118,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 57 percent of the eligible local population now having received at least one dose and more than half of residents age 40 and older now fully vaccinated. 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.

The county currently has more than 10,800 vaccine doses on hand.

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 Tuesday and, despite escalating case rates, kept Humboldt County in the "moderate" or orange tier it entered in April, 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 5.6 percent and a daily case rate of 8.2 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's 12.5. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 0.8 percent test-positivity rate and 2.2 cases per 100,000.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,355 cases, with 191 hospitalizations and 45 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,205 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.

Nationwide, more than 33.1 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 593,377 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 62,179 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:

1 Death, 17 New Cases Reported Today; CalOSHA Revises COVID-19 Safety Measures for Workplaces

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A Humboldt County resident in their 60s has died with COVID-19. Seventeen new cases of the virus were reported today, and one previously reported case was removed from the local count after it was determined to be a false positive. The total number of county residents who have tested positive now stands at 4,355

Today’s report marks the county’s 45th COVID-related death. Staff in Humboldt County Public Health and the Emergency Operations Center extend their condolences to all who have lost friends and loved ones to the virus.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as CalOSHA, yesterday approved revisions to its COVID-19 workplace safety regulations, which apply to most workers in the state. Some of the revisions include:

Workers who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms of the virus do not need to wear face coverings if everyone else in the workspace is fully vaccinated and symptom-free.
Requirements for physical distancing in indoor settings will be eliminated after July 31, but employers will be required to provide N95 masks to unvaccinated employees for voluntary use.
Fully vaccinated employees do not have to stay home from work after a close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
The agency says these measures begin to take effect on June 15 and will continue to be refined over the coming weeks and months. Read more at dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2021/2021-58.html.

Humboldt County Public Health will host mass-vaccination clinics in Eureka and Petrolia for walk-ins and by appointment. To schedule in advance, visit MyTurn.ca.gov.

Scheduled clinics will offer both the two-dose Pfizer and one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines. See the full schedule below:

Saturday, June 5 - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Eureka High School cafeteria (1915 J St., Eureka)
Wednesday, June 9 - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mattole Grange (36512 Mattole Road, Petrolia)
Johnson & Johnson is authorized for people 18 and older. Residents age 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. A parent or guardian must accompany minor children to the clinic and provide written consent in person.

County residents can fill out the consent form in advance. Access the form in English or Spanish at the links below. Print the form then fill one out for each child under 18, and bring it to the clinic.

Español: humboldtgov.org/MinorConsentEspanol
English: humboldtgov.org/MinorConsentEnglish
Many local pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccine, and most allow walk-ins. Check availability at vaccines.gov. Residents can also text their ZIP code to 438829 to find a vaccination site nearby.

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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