Thursday, July 22, 2021

HumCo Confirms 29 New COVID-19 Cases as Test-Positivity Rate Continues Upward Trend

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2021 at 4:01 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 29 new COVID-19 cases today — making 125 so far this week.

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 186 samples with a test positivity rate of 15.6 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 14 percent over the same period.

The county also confirmed Wednesday that two of the county's then 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.

No new hospitalizations were reported today but, according to a state database, 12 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including three 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 reports that roughly 50 percent of the local population is now fully vaccinated and 55 percent of residents have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the county's dashboard. Of the eligible population, 56.4 percent are now fully vaccinated, Public Health reported today.

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:

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

Trinidad – Thursday, July 29, from noon to 3 p.m.Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity 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 4,853 cases, with 224 hospitalizations and 53 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,604 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 9.7 percent even as vaccinations have rendered fewer local resident susceptible to infection.

Nationwide, more than 34.2 million cases have been confirmed with 607,684 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.7 million cases and 63,695 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 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:

July 22, 2021 - 29 New Cases; Some OptumServe Sites to Close, Testing to Continue in Eureka
Twenty-nine new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Humboldt County today. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 4,853.

The OptumServe testing service, contracted by the State of California, will close its mobile testing sites throughout the county at the end of July. COVID-19 testing will continue to be available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at OptumServe’s fixed site at the Wharfinger Building, located at 1 Marina Way, in Eureka.

Testing for COVID-19 is also available through local health care providers and some pharmacies. Businesses, schools and community organizations that would like to access testing resources may apply through the State of California Testing Task Force. For information, visit testing.covid19.ca.gov/get-started/.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statement yesterday reporting increased risk of infection for unvaccinated individuals, noting that 99% of COVID-19 cases reported statewide between January 1 and July 14, have occurred in unvaccinated individuals.

“As transmission continues to increase in communities statewide, along with the faster spreading Delta variant, more individuals, especially those who are unvaccinated, will likely get COVID. Vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing new cases and severe disease, hospitalization and death,” according to the CDPH statement.

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.

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
$10 in Farmers’ Market Cash for the first 30 people who get vaccinated at this clinic.

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

Trinidad – Thursday, July 29, from noon to 3 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.)
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 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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