Thursday, August 12, 2021

HumCo Records 58th COVID-19 Death, 90 New Cases, Nine New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Thu, Aug 12, 2021 at 4:24 PM

click to enlarge PUBLIC HEALTH
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Humboldt County has lost a 58th resident to COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while confirming 90 new cases — making 430 so far this week — and nine new hospitalizations including two of people in their 30s.

With today's cases, the county has now confirmed 817 cases so far this month, with 19 days remaining in August.

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 29 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally — the highest number at any point during the pandemic — with seven under intensive care.

National, state and local health officials advise that vaccination remains an incredibly safe and effective protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COIVD-19, and the county has a host of no-cost clinics scheduled over the next week. (See the full schedule below.)

A county press release yesterday notes that four local residents were also being treated for the virus at out-of-area facilities, though it was unclear if they had to be transferred due to limited capacity locally.

Today's cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 742 samples with a test-positivity rate of 12.1 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 15.5 percent in August, far outpacing state (6.2 percent) and national (10.2 percent) rates.

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. The county announced today that it is expanding testing capacity locally and will open a new Eureka location to offer no-cost testing "most weekdays." Additionally, OptumServe, which provides no-cost testing seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka, also holds testing clinics fonce a week in McKinleyville, Fortuna, Hoopa and Arcata. (See the press release below for the full schedule and locations.) Due to high demand, appointments are encouraged and can be made here.

According to a data tracker run by the nonprofit news organization CalMatters, Humboldt's COVID-19 hospitalization rate is 21.3 patients per 100,000 residents.

Del Norte County, meanwhile, now has the worst rate in California, with 17 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including seven under intensive care, out of a population of around 29,000, which is equivalent to 61.1 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents. According to the state database, there are no ICU beds available.

Tuesday, Del Norte County's only hospital, Sutter Coast Hospital, announced it was opening two surge tents to treat patients while canceling all non-emergent procedures in the hospital, and issued a plea to local residents to follow public health recommendations and get vaccinated. (Read more here.)

During a press conference last week, 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 Monday'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.

click to enlarge vaz_v._non_vax.jpg

"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."

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:

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

Fortuna – Sunday, Aug. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Dr.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Wednesday, Aug. 18, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – Belotti Hall (1250 Fifth St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Thursday, Aug. 19, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – Belotti Hall (1250 Fifth 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.

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 5,929 cases, with 275 hospitalizations and 58 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 5,060 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 36.1 million cases have been confirmed with 616,459 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 3.9 million cases and 64,037 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:
August 12, 2021 - 1 Death, 90 New Cases Reported Today; Testing Resources Expand to Respond to Surge
A Humboldt County resident over the age of 80 has died with COVID-19, the county’s 58th death attributed to the virus. The staff of the Department Operations Center offer their condolences to the person’s family, friends and caregivers.

Ninety new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Humboldt County today. Two previously reported cases were determined to be from another jurisdiction and were removed from the county’s total hospitalization count. The total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 5,929.

Nine new hospitalizations were also reported today, and two previously reported hospitalizations were found to be from another jurisdiction and removed. The age ranges of those newly hospitalized are as follows:

Two people in their 30s
One in their 40s
Two in their 50s
Two in their 60s
One in their 70s
One over the age of 80.
Given the rapid spread of cases locally, health officials urge anyone with cold-like symptoms to get tested for COVID-19. No-cost testing is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week through the OptumServe site at Eureka’s Wharfinger Building. Starting Monday, Aug. 16, testing will also be offered in an additional location in the county most weekdays. OptumServe testing locations, days and times:

Eureka – Seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (1 Marina Way)
McKinleyville – Mondays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road)
Fortuna – Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Dr.)
Hoopa – Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Tsewenaldin Inn, 12482 CA-96)
Arcata – Fridays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (D Street Neighborhood Center, 1301 D St.) This test site opens Friday, Aug. 20.
Currently, demand for testing is the highest it has been in months. Making an appointment is the best way to ensure a test is available when needed. Register in advance at lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123.

In addition to public testing sites, at-home polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and less sensitive rapid antigen test kits are available through local pharmacies and online vendors. Anyone who tests positive using either type of test should isolate for at least 10 days and consult with their doctor, or call the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000 to speak with a Public Health Nurse. Resources for infected individuals and caregivers can be found at humboldtgov.org/blanketorders.

Health officials widely agree that getting vaccinated remains the single most important thing eligible residents can do to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 while also offering protection to those who aren’t able to get vaccinated. All available vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe outcomes, hospitalizations and death from the virus. Vaccine is available at Public Health clinics located throughout the county, and walk-ins are welcome. To make an appointment in advance, go to MyTurn.ca.gov.

See the schedule of upcoming Public Health clinics below:

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

Fortuna – Sunday, Aug. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Dr.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Wednesday, Aug. 18, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – Belotti Hall (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Thursday, Aug. 19, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – Belotti Hall (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Most local pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccines, and many allow walk-ins. Visit vaccines.gov to check availability, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to find a participating pharmacy nearby.

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 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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About The Author

Thadeus Greenson

Bio:
Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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