Monday, September 13, 2021

Public Health Confirms Another COVID Death, 171 New Cases

Posted By on Mon, Sep 13, 2021 at 3:47 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process.
Public Health reported this afternoon that another Humboldt County resident has died of COVID-19, while also confirming 171 new cases of the virus and two new hospitalizations since Friday.

A state database shows 21 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally — the lowest tally in weeks — with two under intensive care. The slow decline in hospitalizations — which peaked at 42 Sept. 3 — is welcome news for local hospitals, which had been pushed beyond capacity amid a brutal August that saw 2,000 new cases confirmed, 98 hospitalizations and 22 deaths.

Wednesday, Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman announced that, due to staffing limitations, Public Health will shift its resources away from communitywide contact tracing to places with the most vulnerable populations and with greater ability to control the spread of the virus through vaccination, masking, distancing and ventilation, including schools, long-term care facilities, shelters and other congregate living settings.

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 15.9 percent in August, far outpacing state (4.5 percent) and national (10.6 percent) rates. Through the first 13 days of September, it has jumped to 17.7 percent.

With case rates high locally, Public Health continues to encourage people to get vaccinated, saying "health officials overwhelmingly agree that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent severe outcomes."

According to the county's dashboard, 54.1 percent of local residents are now fully vaccinated, with nearly 70 percent of residents over the age of 12 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 on Aug. 7 — falling from 28 cases per 100,000 residents to 11 — rates among unvaccinated residents remain high at 67 per 100,000 residents.

Last month, 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 how someone was infected.

National, state and local health officials advise that vaccination remains 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 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 once a week in McKinleyville, Fortuna, Hoopa and Arcata. Due to high demand, appointments are encouraged and can be made here.

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 – Monday, Sept. 13, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main (529 I St.) Moderna/Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Willow Creek – Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public Health Willow Creek Clinic (77 Walnut Way) Moderna/Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Garberville – Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public Health Garberville Clinic (727 Cedar St.) Moderna/Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Thursday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
HCAR Parking Lot (1707 E St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Friday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (203 Old Coast Wagon Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Honeydew – Friday, Sept. 17, from 3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Honeydew School (1 Wilder Ridge Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Miranda – Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
South Fork High School (6831 Avenue of the Giants) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

McKinleyville – Sunday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
McKinleyville High (1300 Murray 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 7,894 cases, with 358 hospitalizations and 82 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

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 before jumping to 15.9 percent in August. Through the first 13 days of September, it sits at 17.7 percent.

Nationwide, more than 40.8 million cases have been confirmed with 656,318 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.3 million cases and 66,716 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:

Sept. 13, 2021 - 1 Death, 2 Hospitalizations, 171 New Cases Reported Today
A Humboldt County resident in their 70s has died from COVID-19. Staff in the Department Operations Center extend their condolences to the friends, loved ones and caregivers of the person who died.

Two new hospitalizations have also been reported, including one resident in their 60s and one over the age of 80.

A total of 7,894 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county after 171 additional cases have been reported since Friday.

While some fully vaccinated individuals do become infected with COVID-19, health officials overwhelmingly agree that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent severe outcomes.

To remove barriers to access to vaccinations for teens, county residents age 16 and 17 can now receive a vaccination at Public Health clinics without a parent or guardian physically present as long as they have a signed consent form. Children under 16 still must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. Consent forms are available in English or Spanish.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at multiple Public Health clinics located throughout the county. Walk-ins are welcome, and appointments can be made in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov. For instructions in English or Spanish on how to use My Turn, go to humboldtgov.org/VaccineInfo.

See the schedule of upcoming Public Health clinics below:

Willow Creek – Tuesday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public Health Willow Creek Clinic (77 Walnut Way)
Moderna/Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Garberville – Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public Health Garberville Clinic (727 Cedar St.)
Moderna/Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Thursday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
HCAR Parking Lot (1707 E St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Friday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (203 Old Coast Wagon Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Honeydew – Friday, Sept. 17, from 3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Honeydew School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Miranda – Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
South Fork High School (6831 Avenue of the Giants)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

McKinleyville – Sunday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
McKinleyville High (1300 Murray Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

To check availability of a particular vaccine at local pharmacies, visit vaccines.gov, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to locate a pharmacy offering vaccines nearby. Most pharmacies allow walk-ins.

Pfizer is authorized for those 12 and older, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people age 18 and older. County residents age 16 and 17 can receive a vaccination at Public Health clinics without a parent or guardian physically present as long as they have a signed consent form. Children under 16 still must be accompanied by their parent or legal 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 data from a previous time.

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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