Thursday, September 16, 2021

HumCo Records 83rd COVID-19 Death, 37 New Cases

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 at 3:13 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.


An 83rd Humboldt County resident has died of COVID-19, Public Health reported this afternoon, while also confirming 37 new cases and two new hospitalizations.

After a state data glitch derailed yesterday's COVID-19 case count, Humboldt County Public Health reported today that it has confirmed 90 new cases of the virus since Monday — making 261 so far this week — with four new hospitalizations.

The new cases — which make 298 so far this week and push the county's cumulative total past 8,000  — were confirmed after laboratories processed 459 samples with a test-positivity rate of 8.1 percent.

The county also announced today that, effective immediately, testing for COVID-19 will be offered at Public Health's vaccine clinics, free of charge.

A state database shows 18 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, 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.

Last week, 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. Through the first 15 days of September, it has jumped to 17.3 percent, far outpacing state (3.4 percent) and national (15 percent) rates.

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, 55 percent of local residents are now fully vaccinated, with nearly 70 percent of residents over the age of 12 having received at least 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.

click to enlarge document.jpg

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 – 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

Eureka — Monday, Sept. 20, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (closed from noon to 1 p.m.)
Public Health (529 I St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing NOT available

Hoopa — Tuesday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Yurok Tribe Weitchpec Office (State Route 96) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Sept. 21, 3 to 5 p.m.
Public Health (77 Walnut Way) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Garberville — Wednesday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public Health (727 Cedar St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

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 8,021 cases, with 364 hospitalizations and 83 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 16 days of September, it sits at 17.3 percent.

Nationwide, more than 41.5 million cases have been confirmed with 666,440 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.3 million cases and 67,187 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. 16, 2021 - 1 Death, 2 New Hospitalizations and 37 New Cases Reported Today
Thirty-seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Humboldt County today, bringing to 8,021 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Two new hospitalizations were also reported, including a person in their 60s and another in their 70s, and a person in their 70s has died. Department Operations Center employees extend their condolences to the friends, loved ones and caregivers of all who have died.

Public Health Combo Test/Vaccine Clinics Opening Countywide

Effective today, testing for COVID-19 will be offered at most Public Health vaccine clinics, where residents will have the option of getting tested, vaccinated or both. As always, testing and vaccination services are free of charge. Combo clinics will be held this week in Petrolia, Honeydew, Miranda, McKinleyville, Hoopa, Willow Creek and Garberville.

Public health officials continue to urge residents to get tested, particularly unvaccinated individuals, those experiencing symptoms, and those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Walk-ins are welcome, and appointments can be made in advance at MyTurn.ca.gov. For instructions in English and Spanish on how to use My Turn, go to humboldtgov.org/VaccineInfo.

See the schedule below for specific clinic dates, times and locations:

Petrolia — Friday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman Ave.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

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

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

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

Eureka — Monday, Sept. 20, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (closed from noon to 1 p.m.)
Public Health (529 I St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing NOT available

Hoopa — Tuesday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Yurok Tribe Weitchpec Office (State Route 96)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Sept. 21, 3 to 5 p.m.
Public Health (77 Walnut Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Garberville — Wednesday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public Health (727 Cedar St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Vaccination is also available at local pharmacies. To check availability of a specific vaccine at local pharmacies, visit vaccines.gov, or text your 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.

While some fully vaccinated individuals have experienced post-vaccination infection, health officials overwhelmingly agree that vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the incidence of severe outcomes.

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.

CDC Urges Increased Ventilation
With cooler weather approaching and increased gathering indoors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a layered approach to reducing the exposure and spread of COVID-19, including vaccination, handwashing, masking, physical distancing—and ventilation.

The CDC recommends increasing the flow of outdoor air by opening windows and doors and using fans to increase their effectiveness. The CDC also recommends opening dampers beyond the minimum settings to reduce or eliminate recirculated air in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC systems.

The minimum recommended filter rating is 13 MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, which is at least 50% efficient at capturing particles in the .3 to 1.0 micrometer size range and 85% efficient at capturing particles 1.0 to 3.0 micrometers in size range. For more information about COVID-safe ventilation, click cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/ventilation.html.

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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