Monday, September 20, 2021

Public Health Reports Three More COVID-19 Deaths

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2021 at 3:50 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.

Three more Humboldt County residents have died of COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while also confirming 84 new cases of the virus and two new hospitalizations since Friday's report.

The deaths — of local residents in their 40s and 60s, and another over the age of 80 — bring the county's cumulative death toll from the virus to 87, with 34 coming since Aug. 1.

A state database shows 17 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with three 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.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 795 samples with a test-positivity rate of 10.6 percent. 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 20 days of September, it has jumped to 16.7 percent, far outpacing state (3 percent) and national (8.7 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.

Pfizer announced today that trials have shown its COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11 and that the company will seek emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month to make it available to this age group.

Public Health reported Friday that the seven-day average of new cases confirmed per 100,000 residents showed that while fully vaccinated residents accounted for about 11 new cases daily per 100,000 in population, unvaccinated residents accounted for an average of 53 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Further, Public Health also reported reported Friday that of the the county's then-84 COVID-19 deaths, seven had been fully vaccinated, while 334 of the county's then-368 hospitalizations — 91 percent — had been of unvaccinated residents.

Earlier this month, 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.

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.

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
PCR and rapid testing available

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

Arcata — Friday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m. to noon
D Street Neighborhood Center (1301 D St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available

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

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 8,182, with 370 hospitalizations and 87 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 20 days of September, it sits at 16.7 percent.

Nationwide, more than 42 million cases have been confirmed with 672,738 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.4 million cases and 67,612 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. 20, 2021 - 3 Deaths, 2 Hospitalizations, 84 New Cases Reported Since Friday
Three deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded in Humboldt County since the most recent report Friday. One was a person in their 40s, one in their 60s and one over the age of 80. Department Operations Center staff share their sympathies with the family, friends and caregivers of those who have died.

Also since Friday, two hospitalizations have been reported, one county resident in their 60s and one in their 70s. Eighty-four new cases have been reported. A total of 8,182 residents have tested positive for the virus.

Pfizer announced Monday that internal trials have shown that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11, and that the company would seek authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group.

There is currently no strict timeframe for this process. Pfizer signaled that it would file its application by the end of the month, and FDA officials have said they would evaluate the data “hopefully within a matter of weeks,” according to news accounts.

Pfizer vaccines are already available to residents 12 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to adults 18 and over.

In other vaccine news, an advisory committee voted Friday to recommend the FDA approve COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people 65 and older, immunocompromised individuals and those working in specific high-risk settings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP will meet to discuss the recommendation Wednesday and Thursday, and the FDA is expected to make a final decision in the coming days. If approved, the booster could be received as soon as six months after the second shot. More information will be released as it becomes available.

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 provided free of charge. Combo clinics will be held this week in Weitchpec, Willow Creek, Garberville, Blue Lake, Arcata and Eureka.

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 at most locations, 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:

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

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

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

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

Arcata — Friday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m. to noon
D Street Neighborhood Center (1301 D St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available

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

Vaccination is also available at local pharmacies. To check availability of a specific vaccine, 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.

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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