Friday, August 6, 2021

HumCo Records 56th COVID Death, 100 New Cases with Mask Order Taking Effect Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Aug 6, 2021 at 3:35 PM

click to enlarge Health Officer Ian Hoffman - SCREENSHOT
  • screenshot
  • Health Officer Ian Hoffman
For the second consecutive day, a Humboldt County resident has died of COVID-19, Public Health reported, while confirming a single-day record 100 new cases and two new hospitalizations.

The county's 56th COVID death — this one of a resident in their 40s — is the third reported over the past four days, with today marking the third time over the past week that the county has set a new single-day case count record.

Today's cases — which make 427 this week and 644 over the past two — were confirmed after laboratories processed 541 samples with at test-positivity rate of 18.5 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 13.4 percent in the first week of August.

The case surge is also impacting local testing capacity, public health reports, with the county's OptumServe site and local pharmacies struggling to meet demand. As such, the county is recommending anyone with a known COVID-19 exposure to quarantine for 10 to 14 days and only test if they have symptoms.

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 Wednesday that will go into effect countywide at midnight tonight.

According to a state database, 20 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including seven under intensive care.

During a press conference Wednesday, 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 Tuesday, 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 today.)

The local case news comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released new data last week 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 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 5,501 cases, with 250 hospitalizations and 56 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 4,957 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 35.5 million cases have been confirmed with 613,658 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.9 million cases and 64,243 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 6, 2021 - One Death and 100 New Cases Reported; Testing Resources Impacted
A Humboldt County resident in their 40s has died with COVID-19. This brings to 56 the total number of county residents who have died with the virus. The staff of the Departmental Operations Center extend their sympathies to the person’s family, friends and caregivers.

One hundred new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Humboldt County today, the highest number ever reported in the county in a single day. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 5,501.

Two hospitalizations have also been reported, one person in their 50s and another in their 60s.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman has issued a universal masking order to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7. The order applies to all individuals above the age of two, regardless of vaccination status. Under the terms of the order, masking will be required in:

All indoor public spaces
Outdoor spaces that are crowded or where people cannot maintain physical distance of six feet or more
Outdoor public events.
Additionally, masking is recommended but not required in private settings.

The order is necessary to control and reduce the rapid rise in the rate of community spread and reinforce the need for safe interactions. Requiring masks in crowded outdoor spaces has been included so that previously planned events can safely continue. To read the full text of the order, go to humboldtgov.org/2725/Local-Orders.

Those responsible for the operation of indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings are required to post clearly visible and easy-to-read signage about masking requirements at entry points. Printable signs are available at humboldtgov.org/2911/Guidance-for-Industry-and-Events.

Due to the surge in local cases, COVID-19 testing at OptumServe and at local pharmacies has been heavily impacted. Anyone with a known exposure should quarantine for 10 to 14 days, and test only if they have symptoms, or three to five days after exposure.

Those who have symptoms and who were told by a health care professional to test, should get tested as soon as they can. For information about what to do while waiting for test results, see humboldtgov.org/DocumentCenter/View/96074/After-Your-COVID-Test-PDF.

Scheduling an appointment or registering in advance are recommended for the OptumServe testing site at the Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way in Eureka. Schedule a test at lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123. Testing is also available by appointment at the Palco Pharmacy, 113 Main St. in Scotia. Schedule a test at doineedacovid19test.com/Scotia_CA_929.html or by calling 707-764-3591.

Public health officials continue to urge eligible residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood of serious outcomes from COVID-19. All COVID-19 vaccines greatly reduce serious disease, hospitalization and death from all variants, including the Delta variant. They also offer substantial reduction in chances you will become infected and spread the virus.

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:

Eureka – Saturday, Aug. 7, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Eureka 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

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
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 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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