Thursday, August 5, 2021

HumCo Loses 55th Resident to COVID-19, 50 New Cases, Nine Hospitalizations Reported

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2021 at 5:03 PM

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


A 55th Humboldt County resident has died of COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while also confirming 50 new cases of the virus and nine new hospitalizations.

Today's cases — which make 327 so far this week, on the heels of 217 last week, which was the highest weekly tally since the post-holiday surge in January — were confirmed after laboratories processed 438 samples wit hat test-positivity rate of 11.4 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County has jumped to 12.2 percent in the first days of August.

The recent spike in cases and a corresponding threat to local hospital capacity prompted Health Officer Ian Hoffman to announce a new mandatory masking order yesterday that will go into effect countywide at midnight Friday. (The county's press release today notes that violations of the order can be reported to authorities in the jurisdiction where the violation is occurring, and includes a list of phone numbers. Check the press release below for more info.)

The hospitalizations reported today have occurred since July 29, though it's unclear why they are just being reported today. According to a state database, 25 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including six under intensive care.

During a press conference yesterday, Hoffman said he believes the highly contagious Delta variant — which data indicates may be twice as contagious as the original strain of COVID-19 — is driving the surge in local case numbers, as is the case nationally.

"Delta is very different," Hoffman said. "This is not the same virus. It's almost like we are dealing with a whole new pandemic."

While Hoffman has maintained vaccination remains incredibly effective against severe illness and death, he said Wednesday the county is seeing a growing number of positive cases in fully vaccinated individuals. He said about a quarter of the roughly 550 cases confirmed in July in Humboldt County were so-called breakthrough cases, though he said they resulted in only "a very small number" of hospitalizations.

In announcing the masking order — which will require people in Humboldt County to wear facial coverings in indoor or confined spaces outside their home and when they can't maintain 6 feet of physical distancing outdoors — Hoffman said it's an effort to bend the curve of virus spread and preserve stretched hospital capacity locally.

"We have to protect the critical infrastructure of our fragile hospital system in Humboldt County, and we want to see businesses stay open," Hoffman said, adding that the mandate is hoped to result in a 25 to 50 percent reduction in new cases but its efficacy will ultimately be determined by compliance. "We don't want to return to lockdown situations and we have to have kids in school this fall. It is with all of this in mind that we are doing this."

In a press release yesterday, health officials urged local residents to reconsider gatherings with people outside their households amid a spike in cases officials believe is being fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. (Due to the recommendation, and surging case numbers, the Journal has postponed its Best of Humboldt party scheduled for Friday.)

The local case news comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released new data Friday 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.

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

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:

McKinleyville – Friday, Aug. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Six Rivers Brewery (1300 Central Ave.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
*$5 vouchers 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 cards 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

Eureka – Tuesday, Aug. 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Eureka Boat Launch (1701 Waterfront Drive under the Hwy. 255 overpass)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Thursday, Aug. 12, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Arcata Transit Center (925 E 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.


As of Friday, Humboldt County had confirmed 5,401 cases, with 249 hospitalizations and 55 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 4,899 cases as having been "cleared," though that just means they are no longer considered active 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 35.3 million cases have been confirmed with 612,958 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.8 million cases and 64,206 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 5, 2021 - 1 Death, 50 New Cases Reported
A Humboldt County resident in their 50s has died with COVID-19. The staff of the Departmental Operations Center share their sympathies with the person’s family, friends and caregivers and to all those who have lost someone to the virus.

Fifty 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 5,401.

Nine hospitalizations are being reported, one on July 29, two on July 30, one on July 31, one on Aug. 1, one on Aug. 2 and three on Aug. 3. The ages of those who were hospitalized are as follows:

1 person in their 30s
1 person in their 40s
1 person in their 50s
2 people in their 60s
4 people in their 70s.
Masking Order Issued

Due to the greater transmissibility of the Delta variant, the surge in cases and rising hospitalizations, a universal masking order will be issued in Humboldt County. The order, which will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, applies to all individuals above the age of two, regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings will be required in public indoor settings as well as crowded outdoor settings. Masking is also recommended for private settings.

Violations of the health order may be reported to the authorities in the jurisdiction where the violations are alleged to have occurred. Members of the public who wish to report a potential violation may call the appropriate county or city office directly. Those jurisdictions are:

• City of Arcata 707-822-5953
• City of Blue Lake 707-668-5655
• City of Eureka 707-441-4203
• City of Fortuna 707-725-1435
• City of Ferndale 707-786-4224
• City of Rio Dell 707-764-5642
• City of Trinidad 707-677-0223
• Unincorporated county locations 707-476-2429

Testing Options Available

Testing is another critical tool for curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the community because it allows those who test positive to isolate before spreading the virus to others. If someone develops cold-like symptoms or suspects they have been exposed to the virus, health officials recommend getting tested, regardless of vaccination status, and isolating while awaiting those results.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is available seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way in Eureka. The testing site is located in the Bay Room on the lower floor of the facility. Walk-ins are welcome but staff recommend signing up in advance at lhi.care/covidtesting to save time. The site is closed to walk-ins between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon and 4 to 5 p.m. Test results are available within two to four days. For information, please contact the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000 (not the Wharfinger Building’s business line or the City of Eureka).

PCR testing is also available by appointment through the Palco Pharmacy, located at 113 Main St. in Scotia. To register for a test, call 707-764-3591 or visit doineedacovid19test.com/Scotia_CA_929.html. Other local pharmacies provide COVID-19 testing services as well. Check with individual pharmacies for information.

At-home testing kits are also available over the counter from local pharmacies and online vendors. Results are available within minutes to two days depending on the type of test. Symptomatic people with negative antigen test results and those who test positive through the antigen process are required to take a more sensitive, confirmatory PCR test. Anyone with a positive at-home test is advised to isolate and contact their physician.

For businesses and organizations that wish to perform routine testing, the California COVID-19 Testing Task Force provides free rapid antigen testing kits. To apply or find out more, go to testing.covid19.ca.gov/get-started/ .

Vaccination Advised

Vaccination prevents serious outcomes from COVID-19, and eligible residents are advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Vaccine is available by appointment and to walk-ins at Public Health vaccination clinics located throughout the county. To sign up in advance, go to MyTurn.ca.gov. Most local pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccines. 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.

See the Public Health clinic schedule for the next seven days below:

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 for 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

Eureka – Tuesday, Aug. 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Eureka Boat Launch (1701 Waterfront Drive under the Hwy. 255 overpass)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Arcata – Thursday, Aug. 12, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Arcata Transit Center (925 E 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 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.

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 guidance, go to cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx.

For COVID-19 testing guidance and information, refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/testing-overview.html and the California Department of Public Health at cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Updated-COVID-19-Testing-Guidance.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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