Wednesday, August 25, 2021

HumCo Records Three More COVID Deaths, Including First of Fully Vaccinated Person

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2021 at 4:47 PM

click to enlarge A Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public health
  • A Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory employee processes a COVID-19 test.

Three more Humboldt County residents have died of COVID-19, including one in their 20s and the county's first fatality in a "breakthrough" case in a fully vaccinated individual in their 70s, Public Health reported today.

"As with any vaccine, breakthrough cases do occur. Most are mild," Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in a press release, noting that of the 168 million people in the United States who are fully vaccinated only 1,829 have died with the virus, according to the CDC . "More severe cases are generally related to the age and condition of the individual."

The county also reported that it has confirmed 98 new COVID-19 cases — making 314 so far this week — after laboratories processed 446 samples with a test-positivity rate of 22 percent. Three new hospitalizations were also reported.

With today's cases, the county has now confirmed 1,634 so far in August, as well as 70 hospitalizations and 12 deaths as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to circulate widely in the local community. For context, some 18 months into the pandemic, August already accounts for 24 percent of the county's total cases, 22 percent of its hospitalizations and 18 percent of its COVID 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 percent in August, far outpacing state (5.8 percent) and national (11.6 percent) rates.

A state database, meanwhile, shows 32 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally with 11 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.

According to the county's dashboard, 52.4 percent of local residents are now fully vaccinated, with another 6.85 percent having received one dose. 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 23 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:

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 6,741 cases, with 313 hospitalizations and 65 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 38.1 million cases have been confirmed with 629,139 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.1 million cases and 64,802 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 25, 2021 - 3 Deaths, 98 New Cases Reported Today
Three Humboldt County residents have died with COVID-19, including one person in their 20s, the youngest resident to have died with the virus. One of the individuals who died was in their 60s and the third in their 70s, bringing the number of residents who have died with the virus to 65.

One of the individuals whose death was reported today was fully vaccinated, the first COVID-related death of a fully vaccinated individual reported in the county.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said the fully vaccinated individual who died was in their 70s. “As with any vaccine, breakthrough cases do occur. Most are mild,” he said. “More severe cases are generally related to the age and condition of the individual.”

The staff of the Department Operations Center offer their condolences to the families, friends and caregivers of those who died and to all those who have lost someone to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that out of more than 168 million people in the U.S. who are fully vaccinated 1,829 have died with the virus. 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.

Ninety-eight new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the county today. The total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 6,741. Three new hospitalizations were also reported, including one person in their 70s and two over the age of 80.

Dr. Hoffman stressed the importance of an additional dose of mRNA vaccine for immunocompromised individuals, saying that it triggers their bodies to produce enough antibodies to protect against the more contagious Delta variant.

“We strongly urge those who are immunocompromised and previously received two doses of an mRNA vaccine to get an additional dose of the same vaccine now,” he said. People with compromised immune systems may be more likely to become infected even if fully vaccinated with two doses. CDC provides more information at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html.

Vaccines are available at Public Health clinics and many local pharmacies. To check availability of a particular vaccine at local pharmacies, visit vaccines.gov, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to find a participating pharmacy nearby. Most local pharmacies allow walk-ins. Walk-ins are also welcome at Public Health clinics, or appointments can be made in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov.

See the schedule of upcoming Public Health clinics below:

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 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

Pfizer is authorized for those 12 and older, and 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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