Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Public Health Confirms 114 New COVID Cases, Two New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Tue, Aug 24, 2021 at 3:19 PM

click to enlarge PUBLIC HEALTH
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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 114 new cases today — making 216 so far this week — while reporting two new hospitalizations.

Today's cases — which confirmed after laboratories processed 677 samples with a test-positivity rate of 16.8 percent — come after the county confirmed 362 new cases last week amid an ongoing surge fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Public Health noted yesterday that it expects to "report large numbers of new cases each day this week" as a backlog of hundreds of cases are processed.

With today's cases, the county has now confirmed 1,536 so far in August, as well as 67 hospitalizations and nine deaths as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to circulate widely in the local community. 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 14.7 percent in August, far outpacing state (5.8 percent) and national (11.6 percent) rates.

A state database, meanwhile, shows 31 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally with 10 under intensive care, as hospital capacity remains a growing concern among health officials, with patients increasingly being transferred out of the county for care or having non-emergency procedures cancelled.

Days before the FDA granted the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval, Public Health reported Friday that 59.1 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated in Humboldt County, or 51.7 percent of the total population. While the average daily case rates among fully vaccinated residents have dropped sharply since the county reimplemented a mandatory masking order Aug. 7 — falling from 28 cases per 100,000 residents to 18 — rates among unvaccinated residents remain critically high at 73 per 100,000 residents.

Last week, the county also reported that due to the record-high case volume, it will be making some changes to its dashboard and data collection practices moving forward. Specifically, the county will drop the "cases cleared" section of its dashboard because it's become too time consuming to track all patients through their illnesses, while also discontinuing updates to its "transmission type" section because "data show the virus is widespread in our communities to the extent that it is frequently impossible" to determine who someone was infected.


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. Due to high demand, appointments are encouraged and can be made here. (See the full testing schedule included below)

According to a data tracker run by the nonprofit news organization CalMatters, Humboldt's COVID-19 hospitalization rate is 24.2 patients per 100,000 residents.

Del Norte County, meanwhile, now has the worst rate in California, with 22 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including seven under intensive care, out of a population of around 29,000, which is equivalent to 75.5 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents. According to the state database, there are no ICU beds available.

Earlier this month, 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.)

Also earlier this month, Humboldt County health officials urged local residents to reconsider gatherings with people outside their households.

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 – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Housing Authority – (735 W. Everding St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Highland Park (High St. Parking Area) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Thursday, Aug. 26, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Dollar General (650 S. Fortuna Blvd.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Thursday, Aug. 26, from noon to 5 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Friday, Aug. 27, from 10:30 to noon
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Friday, Aug. 27, from noon to 5 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Honeydew – Friday, Aug. 27, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Saturday, Aug. 28, from noon to 5 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Sunday, Aug. 29, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Redwoods Rural Health Center (101 W. Coast Road) 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 today, Humboldt County had confirmed 6,643 cases, with 310 hospitalizations and 62 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 5,073 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 37.9 million cases have been confirmed with 628,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.1 million cases and 64,694 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 24, 2021 - 114 New Cases Reported Today; Testing Now Available in Garberville
One hundred and fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Humboldt County today. To date, total of 6,643 county residents have tested positive for the virus. Two new hospitalizations were also reported, including one person in their 60s and another in their 80s.

Humboldt County Public Health has expanded testing efforts throughout the county to help contain the rapid spread of cases. No-cost testing is available seven days a week through the OptumServe site at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka, and an additional location in the county each weekday. Beginning today, a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will be open each Tuesday at Jerold Phelps Community Hospital in Garberville.

See the full OptumServe testing schedule below:

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)
Garberville – Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Jerold Phelps Community Hospital, 733 Cedar St.)
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.)
Demand for testing is high at this time, so 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. Test results are usually available within two to four days.

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

Anyone who tests positive should isolate for at least 10 days and consult with their doctor or call the Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000 for more information. Resources for infected individuals and their caregivers can be found at humboldtgov.org/blanketorders.

While some people who are fully vaccinated do become infected with the virus, health officials widely agree that the most effective way to prevent severe outcomes from COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated.

Public Health will hold 10 vaccination clinics Wednesday through Sunday in various locations around the county. Walk-ins are welcome, and appointments can be made in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov. 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.

See the schedule of upcoming Public Health clinics below:

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Housing Authority (735 W. Everding St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from noon to 3 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Highland Park (High St. Parking Area)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Thursday, Aug. 26, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Dollar General (650 S. Fortuna Blvd.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Thursday, Aug. 26, from noon to 5 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Friday, Aug. 27, from 10:30 a.m. to noon
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Friday, Aug. 27, from noon to 5 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Honeydew – Friday, Aug. 27, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Ferndale – Saturday, Aug. 28, from noon to 5 p.m.
Humboldt County Fair – main parking lot (1250 Fifth St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Sunday, Aug. 29, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Redwoods Rural Health Center (101 W. Coast Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine received full approval this week from the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for individuals age 16 and older. Pfizer is available to children 12 to 15 years old under the FDA’s emergency use authorization. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and older.

Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Full protection from vaccination 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 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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Thadeus Greenson

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

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