Monday, August 2, 2021

Public Health Estimates More Than 90 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed Since Friday

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2021 at 4:53 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 did not issue an exact case count today, citing short staffing and high number of positive cases over the weekend as reasons it won't release a full case tally until tomorrow.

Public Health estimates that more than 90 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 since Friday's report, but said the county's recent record surge in cases coupled with reductions in state-assigned staff since the state's full re-opening in June has put a strain on Public Health. As such, the department is revamping its contact investigations to determine whether cases are classified as "priority" or "low risk," with "priority" cases triggering investigations and "low risk" ones being provided with medical information and cleared from additional tracking. (Read more about the county's new contact investigations approach in the press release below.)

Last week, the county confirmed 217 new cases — including a single-day record of 69 Friday — in the highest weekly tally since the post-holiday surge in January. The county also saw a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent for the month of July, the highest for any month since the pandemic began.

According to a state database, 12 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including four under intensive care.

The local case news comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released new data today indicating the Delta variant is highly transmittable, even among fully vaccinated people. While data indicates the vaccines remain highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death, the CDC warns that it leads to very high viral loads even among vaccinated, mildly symptomatic people, meaning they can still easily transmit the virus to others.

Yesterday, the Humboldt County Administrative Office announced that as of tomorrow facial coverings will be required in all county facilities, warning the current surge in cases poses a "real threat" to the county's ability to provide vital services.

Days after Humboldt County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their mask guidance, the California Department of Public Health followed suit in recommending that everyone — regardless of vaccination status – wear a mask while indoors in public spaces for regions with high levels of virus transmission, which includes Humboldt County. According to the CDC, more than 90 percent of California residents are in areas of high or substantial transmission, including Humboldt.

The recommendation to continue masking comes after the increased spread of the Delta variant, which is more contagious than other COVID-19 varieties and can result in more severe illness. The Delta variant now accounts for nearly 85 percent of new infections nationally. Earlier this week, Public Health reported that the Delta variant was found in 25 percent of samples that underwent genomic sequencing last month.

Public Health is urging residents to help limit the spread of the virus by wearing masks indoors in public, participating in contact tracing efforts and getting vaccinated.

According to the release, Public Health is prioritizing contact tracing investigations based on risk due to the surge in local COVID cases. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is urged to assist contact investigators in quickly identifying their close contacts, defined as those who have been within six feet for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.

Public Health is urging residents who have yet to do so to get their COVID-19 vaccines, as it is the only protection against severe illness and death from the virus. This week's Public Health vaccine clinics include Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson doses. The full schedule includes:

Fields Landing – Tuesday, Aug. 3, from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Fields Landing Boat Ramp (End of Railroad Ave., South Humboldt Bay) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

King Salmon – Tuesday, Aug. 3, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Gills by the Bay (77 Halibut Ave.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Thursday, Aug. 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
College of the Redwoods Gym (7351 Tompkins Hill Road)
Pfizer/Moderna

McKinleyville – Friday, Aug. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Six Rivers Brewery (1300 Central Ave.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

McKinleyville – Friday, Aug. 6, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Dollar General (1180 Murray Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Saturday, Aug. 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
North Coast Stand Down (Veterans Memorial Building, 1018 H St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Blue Lake – Sunday, Aug. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Blue Lake Resource Center (111 Greenwood Ave.) 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.


As of Friday, Humboldt County had confirmed 5,114 cases, with 233 hospitalizations and 53 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 4,755 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 rose to 10.1 percent — the highest at any point in the pandemic.

Nationwide, more than 34.9 million cases have been confirmed with 611,051 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.8 million cases and 64,085 related deaths have been confirmed in California, according to the Department of Public Health.

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:
August 2, 20221 - Data Reporting Delayed Due to High Case Volume; Update Expected Tomorrow
Daily reporting of the most recent local COVID-19 data has been delayed due to short staffing and the high number of positive cases being processed. Humboldt County Public Health estimates that more than 90 individuals have tested positive since the most recent report Friday. A full update of the daily, weekly and monthly datasets on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard is expected to be included in tomorrow’s report.

Due to the recent record-breaking surge in positive cases and a reduction in state-assigned staff following California’s full reopening in June, Public Health has changed the way it handles COVID-19 case investigations. A case investigator will still attempt to contact each individual who tests positive to conduct an initial interview and will assign the case as priority or low risk. If the case is determined to be a priority due to its high potential for spread among a vulnerable population, a case investigator will follow up with the person’s close contacts and check in on their status throughout their isolation period.

Under the revised process, when a case is deemed low risk, Public Health will provide information about appropriate medical care and what a person who tested positive should do if symptoms develop or worsen then clear the case from additional tracking, often the same day it is reported. Cases will also be cleared when county residents who test positive do not respond to repeated contacts or refuse to participate in the contact tracing process. Cleared cases may be reopened if contact is made later with someone who had previously not responded to outreach.

To reflect this change in practice, the “Recovered” metric on the Humboldt County Data Dashboard will be renamed “Cases Cleared,” which is defined as the cumulative total of confirmed cases that are no longer being actively tracked by Humboldt County Public Health case investigations teams.

As case rates increase, residents are encouraged to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. All available vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe outcomes, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19. Vaccine is available by appointment and to walk-ins at Public Health vaccination clinics located throughout the county, and most local pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccines. See the Public Health clinic schedule for the next seven days below, and sign up in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov.

Fields Landing – Tuesday, Aug. 3, from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Fields Landing Boat Ramp (End of Railroad Ave., South Humboldt Bay)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

King Salmon – Tuesday, Aug. 3, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Gills by the Bay (77 Halibut Ave.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Thursday, Aug. 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
College of the Redwoods Gym (7351 Tompkins Hill Road)
Pfizer/Moderna

McKinleyville – Friday, Aug. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Six Rivers Brewery (1300 Central Ave.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
*$5 voucher toward food and drink for those who get vaccinated at this clinic.

McKinleyville – Friday, Aug. 6, from 3 to 6 p.m.
Ace Hardware (2725 Central Ave.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
*$25 gift card from Ace to those who get vaccinated at this clinic.

Eureka – Saturday, Aug. 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
North Coast Stand Down (Veterans Memorial Building, 1018 H St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Blue Lake – Sunday, Aug. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Blue Lake Resource Center (111 Greenwood Ave.)
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 Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Full protection from the vaccine is achieved two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose series or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.

To check availability of vaccines 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 facial covering recommendations and mandates, go to cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx.

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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