Monday, August 9, 2021

Public Health Reports 216 COVID Cases Since Friday; Del Norte Has the State's Highest Hospitalization Rates

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2021 at 5:40 PM

Humboldt County's skyrocketing COVID-19 count continues, with Public Health today reporting 216 new cases confirmed since Friday and seven new hospitalizations.

Three local residents died due to COVID-19  last week — one in their 30s, one in their 40s  and another in their 50s — bringing the county's total to 56 amid record breaking single-day case counts.

Today's cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 1,051 samples with a test-positivity rate of  20.5 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 jumped to 13.4 percent in the first week of August. Since Aug. 2, the county has seen 479 cases.

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 countywide masking mandate that went into effect Aug. 7.

A state database shows 19 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including three under intensive care.

According to a data tracker run by the nonprofit news organization CalMatters, Humboldt's COVID-19 hospitalization rate is 13.9 patients per 100,000 residents.

Del Norte County, meanwhile, now has the worst rate in California, with 16 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including six under intensive care, out of a population of around 29,000, which is equivelant to 57.5 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents. According to the state database, there are no ICU beds available.

Last week, Del Norte County's only hospital, Sutter Coast Hospital, activated its surge capacity plan after seeing a "significant" increase in the number of COVID-19 patients seeking emergency care and issued a plea to residents to follow public health recommendations and avoid large gatherings. (Read more here.)

During a press conference last 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 Humboldt 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."

According to today's news release from the county's Joint Information Center, the county's first breakthrough case was recorded in February and cases rates for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals have "continued to rise sharply since the state’s June 15 reopening" but at a slower rate for those who are vaccinated.

"Current case rates for unvaccinated residents far exceed previous peaks for in January and May and rise to an unprecedented rate among fully vaccinated residents," the release states.  "The rise in cases underscores the need for precautions like universal masking and physical distancing, as well as the urgency to get more people vaccinated in the community."
click to enlarge vaz_v._non_vax.jpg

In announcing the masking order — which requires 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."

Last week, health officials also urged local residents to reconsider gatherings with people outside their households.

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


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

Garberville – Friday, Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Garberville Farmers’ Market (Garberville Town Square at Church St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Friday, Aug. 13, from 4:15 to 5 p.m.
Dean Creek RV Park (4112 Redwood Dr.) 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.

On Friday, 134 residents were vaccinated at clinics hosted by Six Rivers Brewery and the McKinleyville Ace Home and Garden Center, the JIC reports.


As of today, Humboldt County had confirmed 5,717 cases, with 257 hospitalizations and 56 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 5,006 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 35.8 million cases have been confirmed with 614,856 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.95 million cases and 64,318 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 county's Joint Information Center release below:
Two hundred sixteen new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Humboldt County since Friday. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 5,717. Seven new hospitalizations have also been reported, including one person in their 40s, two people in their 50s, three in their 60s and one in their 70s.

Since the last weekly update on Aug. 2, the county has reported 479 new cases of COVID-19, 20 new hospitalizations and three deaths. One of the residents who died was in their 30s, one in their 40s and another in their 50s. To date, 257 hospitalizations and 56 deaths have been confirmed in the county. The number of vaccination breakthrough cases continues to rise in Humboldt County, but at a lower rate than cases in unvaccinated individuals. The graph below shows average weekly case rates between Dec. 26, 2020 and July 31, 2021 in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated individuals.
click to enlarge vaz_v._non_vax.jpg
The first local breakthrough case was in Feb. 2021, and case rates for both groups have continued to rise sharply since the state’s June 15 reopening. Current case rates for unvaccinated residents far exceed previous peaks for in January and May and rise to an unprecedented rate among fully vaccinated residents. The rise in cases underscores the need for precautions like universal masking and physical distancing, as well as the urgency to get more people vaccinated in the community. For additional information, please view a more detailed depiction of the data here.

Vaccination progress continues to be made. On Friday, 134 residents were vaccinated, thanks to the support of two McKinleyville businesses. Six Rivers Brewery and the McKinleyville Ace Home and Garden Center hosted well-attended vaccination clinics and offered gift certificates as incentives for those who were vaccinated on site. The Department Operations Center deeply appreciates these and all other local businesses and individuals who have stepped forward to protect our community.

Vaccine remains available at Public Health vaccination clinics located throughout the county. Walk-ins are welcome or sign up in advance at 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 – 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

Garberville – Friday, Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Garberville Farmers’ Market (Garberville Town Square at Church St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Friday, Aug. 13, from 4:15 to 5 p.m. Dean Creek RV Park (4112 Redwood Dr.) 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.
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About The Author

Kimberly Wear

Bio:
Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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