Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Public Health Confirms 23 New COVID-19 Cases, Three New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Tue, Jul 20, 2021 at 3:41 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process. - SUBMITTED
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  • Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process.

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 23 new COVID-19 cases today — making 69 already this week — as well as three new hospitalizations, including one of a resident in their 40s.

Today's cases — which come after the county confirmed 84 new cases last week amid a recent surge in virus activity — were confirmed after laboratories processed 171 samples with a test positivity rate of 13.5 percent. Statewide, the test-positivity rate over the past seven days sits at 4.1 percent — the highest since February — which is dwarfed by the local rate of 10.5 percent over the same period.

The county also confirmed today that two of its 222 hospitalizations and none of its 53 COVID-related deaths recorded to date were so-called "breakthrough cases" confirmed in fully vaccinated individuals.

National, local and state officials maintain the vaccines are incredibly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death. Nationally, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said that more than 97 percent of the nearly 25,000 people currently hospitalized with the disease are unvaccinated, while U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reported that 99.5 percent of recent COVID-19 deaths were of unvaccinated people.

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

In recent weeks, local officials have been warning that residents age 19 and younger are increasingly accounting for case spread locally amid an upwelling in cases of the Delta variant, which now accounts nearly 85 percent of new infections nationally. The Delta variant is believed to be more contagious than other COVID-19 varieties and to result in more severe illness. In today's press release, public health reported that it was found in 25 percent of samples that underwent genomic sequencing last month.

On the vaccination front, the county reported last week that roughly 55 percent of the eligible local population is are now fully vaccinated and 62 percent of eligible residents have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to a press release.

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:

Eureka – Tuesday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eureka Boat Launch (1701 Waterfront Dr.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Wednesday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. River Lodge Conference Center (1800 Riverwalk Dr.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Thursday, July 22, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Arcata Transit Center (925 E St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Friday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dean Creek RV Park (4112 Redwood Drive) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Redwood AutoXpo (Veterans Memorial Building, 1426 Main St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Arcata Farmers’ Market (Arcata Plaza, 808 G St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Sunday, July 25, from noon to 4 p.m. Adopt-a-Park Community Event (Mad River Pkwy. E)
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 4,798 cases, with 222 hospitalizations and 53 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,555 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 but fell back to 5.9 percent in June. In July, it has risen to 8.6 percent even as vaccinations have rendered fewer local resident susceptible to infection.

Nationwide, more than 33.8 million cases have been confirmed with 606,618 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.7 million cases and 63,653 related deaths have been confirmed in California, 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 the Wharfinger Building 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 JIC release below:

July 20, 2021 - 23 New Cases Reported Today; Officials Urge Vaccination as Delta Cases Rise
Twenty-three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Humboldt County today, bringing the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus to 4,798. Three new hospitalizations were also reported, including one person in their 40s, one in their 50s and one in their 60s.

The Humboldt County Public Health lab has identified more than a dozen cases of the Delta variant since it was first found in the county in early May. Genomic sequencing identified only a single case of the variant in May, but by June the Delta variant was identified in 25% of sequenced samples.

According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is estimated to be 64% more transmissible than the Alpha variant which in turn is 50% more transmissible than the original virus.

What the CDC refers to as breakthrough cases are to be expected with any vaccine, and Humboldt County has seen infections in fully vaccinated people as the rest of California has with the rise of the Delta variant. However, with very few exceptions, these cases are mild in otherwise healthy people.

Vaccination protects against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The CDC reports that only 3% of U.S. COVID-related hospitalizations and fewer than 1% of deaths have occurred in fully vaccinated people. In Humboldt County, those numbers are lower, with only two of the 222 hospitalizations and none of the 53 COVID-related deaths in Humboldt County occurring in fully vaccinated residents.

Public health officials advise unvaccinated and partially vaccinated community members to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible, as partial vaccination may leave a person vulnerable to variants like Delta. Full vaccination means both doses in a two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Full protection is achieved two weeks after completing the vaccination series. Officials urge those who are hesitant or have questions to discuss their concerns with their primary care provider or speak to a Public Health nurse by calling the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000.

Unvaccinated residents over the age of two are required to wear facial coverings in indoor public spaces. Some California counties have begun issuing advisories recommending indoor masking in public spaces regardless of vaccination status, and Los Angeles County has reinstated its indoor masking requirement.

Vaccine is available at Public Health clinics and at most local pharmacies. Walk-ins are welcome at all Public Health clinics, or sign up in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov. See the clinic schedule for the next seven days below.

Fortuna – Wednesday, July 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
River Lodge Conference Center (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Thursday, July 22, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Arcata Transit Center (925 E St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Friday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dean Creek RV Park (4112 Redwood Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Redwood AutoXpo (Veterans Memorial Building, 1426 Main St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Arcata Farmers’ Market (Arcata Plaza, 808 G St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Sunday, July 25, from noon to 4 p.m.
Adopt-a-Park Community Celebration (Mad River Pkwy. E)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for children as young as 12 years old. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older.

To check availability of these vaccines, as well as Moderna, at local pharmacies, visit 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.

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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