Friday, September 17, 2021

Public Health Confirms Six Deaths as 'Breakthrough' Cases, One More Death, Four Hospitalizations, 77 New COVID-19 Cases

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2021 at 4:17 PM

click to enlarge Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff Paula Moon (left) and Alyssa McCloud catalog incoming tests. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public Health
  • Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff Paula Moon (left) and Alyssa McCloud catalog incoming tests.
Humboldt County Public Health has confirmed 77 new COVID-19 cases, four hospitalizations of one person in their 50s, two in their 60s and one over the age of 80. In addition to the hospitalizations, a person in their 60s has died from the virus, marking the third COVID-related death this week.

Public Health officials have identified six additional fully vaccinated individuals who have died from the virus. A total of seven residents have died from post-vaccination or “breakthrough” illness out of the county's 84 total deaths attributed to the virus. Thirty-four people have been hospitalized due to post-vaccine illness out of 368 total hospitalizations.

In today's county COVID update, Health Officer Ian Hoffman stressed the importance of an additional dose of mRNA vaccine for immunocompromised individuals.

“Our local data matches what we know from CDC and CDPH: Fully vaccinated people with severe risk factors and compromised immune systems are at higher risk for being a post-vaccine case, hospitalization or fatality compared to other fully vaccinated people with stronger immune response to vaccine,” Hoffman said. He added that statistics continue to show that unvaccinated cases are younger and are much more likely to be infected, become hospitalized and die from COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated.

Since Sept. 10, Humboldt County has recorded 375 positive cases, bringing the seven-day average case rate to 32.6, meaning that for every 100,000 county residents, about 33 people have tested positive over the last seven days.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 8,098, with 368 hospitalizations and 84 COVID-19 related deaths.
Twelve county residents have been hospitalized over the last week. Their age ranges are as follows:

1 person in their 30s
3 people in their 50s
4 people in their 60s
1 people in their 70s
3 people over the age of 80.

Testing for COVID-19 will be offered at Public Health's vaccine clinics, free of charge.

A state database shows 21 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with one 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.

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.

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.

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 17 days of September, it sits at 14.02 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, 4.6 million cases and 67,906 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 JIC's report below.
Sept. 17, 2021 - Additional Post-vaccination Hospitalizations and Deaths Reported Today

Seventy-seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Humboldt County today, bringing to 8,098 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Four new hospitalizations were also reported, including a person in their 50s, two in their 60s and one over the age of 80. A person in their 60s has died.

After extensive case review, Public Health officials have identified six additional fully vaccinated individuals who have died from the virus. A total of seven residents have died from post-vaccination or “breakthrough” illness out of 84 total deaths attributed to the virus. Thirty-four people have been hospitalized due to post-vaccine illness out of 368 total hospitalizations.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman expressed his heartfelt condolences for these losses and stressed again the importance of an additional dose of mRNA vaccine for immunocompromised individuals.

“Our local data matches what we know from CDC and CDPH: fully vaccinated people with severe risk factors and compromised immune systems are at higher risk for being a post-vaccine case, hospitalization or fatality compared to other fully vaccinated people with stronger immune response to vaccine,” Hoffman said.

He added that statistics continue to show that unvaccinated cases are younger and are much more likely to be infected, become hospitalized, and die from COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated.

Chart showing case rates (per 100K) since December 2020 with the unvaccinated case rate at 21, vaccinated at zero. Unvaccinated case rates climb to 29 in January, down as low as three in April, then up to 26 in mid-May, while vaccinated case rates never exceeded two. On June 15, when COVID restrictions were lifted, the unvaccinated case rate was 10 and vaccinated case rate was zero. Then by mid-July, cases for everyone began to climb. On August 7, a local mask mandate was put back into place requiring all individuals over the age of 2 to wear a facial covering in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings. The local case rate for unvaccinated people declined from 67 residents per 100,000 to 53 since last week, while the case rate for fully vaccinated individuals has declined for a fifth consecutive week.

The seven-day average case rate is currently 32.6, meaning that for every 100,000 county residents, about 33 people have tested positive over the last seven days.

The county has recorded 375 new positive cases since the last weekly data update on Sept. 10. Three residents have died from the virus during that same period. Twelve county residents have been hospitalized over the last week. Their age ranges are as follows:

1 person in their 30s
3 people in their 50s
4 people in their 60s
1 people in their 70s
3 people over the age of 80.
Testing for COVID-19 is now available 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 weekend in Miranda and McKinleyville, with additional clinics next week in Hoopa, Willow Creek, Garberville, Blue Lake and Arcata.

COVID-19 testing continues in Eureka from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week at the Wharfinger Building at 1 Marina Way. The test site is operated by OptumServe and located in the Bay Room on the lower floor of the building. The site is closed from 11 a.m. to noon and 4 to 5 p.m. for staff meal breaks. Walk-ins are welcome, but preregistration is recommended. Sign up at lhi.care/covidtesting.

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, locations and available services:

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

Blue Lake — Thursday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Blue Lake Resource Center-Skinner Store (111 Greenwood Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Arcata — Thursday, Sept. 23, 4 to 6 p.m.
Arcata High School (1720 M St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
Testing available

Eureka — Friday, Sept. 24, 1 to 4 p.m.
Transition-Age Youth Division (433 M St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
Testing available

Arcata — Friday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m. to noon
D Street Neighborhood Center (1301 D 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.
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Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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