Monday, August 16, 2021

Public Health Reports County's 59th COVID Death, 191 New Cases

Posted By on Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 5:26 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.
A 59th Humboldt County Resident has died of COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while confirming 191 new cases of the virus and eight new hospitalizations since Friday.

Today's cases — which were confirmed after laboratories processed 1,272 samples with a test-positivity rate of 15 percent — come after the county confirmed 471 new cases last week and push the county past 6,000 total cases. A state database, meanwhile, shows 27 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally — more than at any point during the pandemic — with six under intensive care, as hospital capacity remains a growing concern among health officials.

With today's cases, the county has now confirmed 1,049 cases so far this month, as well as 50 hospitalizations and six deaths. 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 15.1 percent in August, far outpacing state (6.2 percent) and national (10.2 percent) rates.

On Friday, Public Health released case data for the week ending Aug. 7, broken up by vaccination status and it shows unvaccinated residents caught the virus at roughly three times the rate of their fully vaccinated peers. For the week, fully vaccinated individuals saw a case rate of 26 per 100,000 residents, while unvaccinated residents saw a case rate of 75 per 100,000 residents.

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.

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.)

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 19.8 patients per 100,000 residents.

Del Norte County, meanwhile, now has the worst rate in California, with 23 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including seven under intensive care, out of a population of around 29,000, which is equivalent to 82.7 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, 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."

Earlier this month, 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 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:

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

Ferndale – Friday, Aug. 20, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

To make an appointment in advance or view additional vaccination opportunities and to request help with transportation, visit or

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 6,161 cases, with 287 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 36.7 million cases have been confirmed with 619,564 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4 million cases and 64,194 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 [email protected] or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at [email protected] 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 16, 2021 - One Death, 191 New Cases Reported Since Friday
A Humboldt County resident in their 60s has died with COVID-19, bringing to 59 the number of county residents who have died with the virus. The staff of the Department Operations Center share their condolences to the family, friends and caregivers of the person who died.

One hundred ninety-one new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the county since Friday. The total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 6,161.

Eight new hospitalizations were also reported, including one person in their 20s, one in their 30s, two in their 40s, two in their 50s, one in their 60s and one in their 70s.

Since the last weekly update on Aug. 9, the county has reported 429 new cases of COVID-19, 30 new hospitalizations and three deaths. To date, 287 hospitalizations and 59 deaths have been confirmed in the county.

As case numbers and hospitalizations continue to rise in Humboldt County, health officials urge residents to reconsider gatherings at this time to limit transmission in the community.

The Humboldt-Del Norte County Medical Society on Friday issued a strong appeal to the community to get vaccinated, signed by 111 local physicians. “You’ve trusted us with every other aspect of your health. Please trust us with this,” the letter states. “We are not asking you to do anything that we have not already done. Please, for the sake of our community: the young, the old, and all the in-betweens, get vaccinated.” Click here to read the full letter.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended third doses of mRNA vaccines Pfizer or Moderna for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. The third dose should be the same vaccine as the initial series and administered at least four weeks after completing a primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. Those who want to know if a third dose is right for them should consult their primary care provider.

All available vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization 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

See the schedule of upcoming Public Health clinics below:

Willow Creek– Tuesday, Aug. 17, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Willow Creek Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Willow Creek– Tuesday, Aug. 17, 3:30 to 6 p.m.
Willow Creek Family Resource Center (38883 Hwy. 299)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

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

Orick– Thursday, Aug. 19, from noon to 2 p.m.
Orick School – 120918 Hwy. 101, Orick
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

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

Trinidad – Thursday, Aug. 19, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall – 409 Trinity St.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Friday, Aug. 20, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Most local pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccines, and many allow walk-ins. Visit 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.

Vaccinated individuals who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 should get tested three to five days after exposure even if they don’t have symptoms. They should wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative, according to the CDC. Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate for 10 days if their test result is positive.

OptumServe has expanded its locations for no-cost testing. For information on testing locations, see 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.

View the Humboldt County Data Dashboard online at, or go to to download today’s data.

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit or Local information is available at or by contacting [email protected] or calling 707-441-5000.

Sign up for COVID-19 vaccination:
Check for vaccine availability at a local pharmacy:
Local COVID-19 vaccine information:
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard:
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19
Humboldt Health Alert:

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Thadeus Greenson

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

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