Friday, December 17, 2021

Public Health Confirms 48 New COVID-19 Cases, One New Hospitalization

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2021 at 3:35 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.

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 48 new COVID-19 cases today — making 223 this week — and reported one new hospitalization.

Today's cases — which make 469 so far this month — come after laboratories processed 161 samples with a test-positivity rate of 29.8 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 and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent but rose to 14.2 percent in November and sits at 14.2 percent through the first 17 days of December. While the seven-day average test-positivity rate for the nation sits at 7.1 percent and California's has risen to 2.8 percent, Humboldt County's reached 16.4 percent this week.

In a presentation to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors last week, Health Officer Ian Hoffman said no cases of the new Omicron variant have been confirmed locally, though he said he "fully expects" that to change.

"We will continue to monitor and do genomic sequencing and other testing that might be able to detect that variant quickly, and let the public know once we do see any evidence of that in Humboldt County," he said.

As the variant spreads throughout the United States in the midst of the holiday season, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated and for all eligible to get their booster shots.

Public Health officials continue to stress that the best way for residents to protect themselves from COVID-19 and variants like Omicron is to get vaccinated, wear masks indoors and in crowded places, get tested immediately regardless of vaccination status if any cold- or flu-like symptoms develop and stay home when sick. Eligible residents, health officials say, should get their booster shots, as well.

The CDC has designated Humboldt County as an area of high community transmission and recommends holding gatherings outdoors when possible, limiting the number of participants in indoor gatherings, adjusting the indoor layout to allow for physical distancing and enhancing the ventilation of indoor spaces.

A state database shows 13 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with three under intensive care. The local hospital census peaked Sept. 3 with 42 COVID-19 patients.

The Food and Drug Administration recently authorized boosters for everyone age 16 and older who are at least six months past their second shot of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and two months past their shot of Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Public Health reported today that Humboldt's seven-day average case rate is currently at 14, meaning that for every 100,000 residents, 15 residents tested positive for the virus daily over the last seven days. But the case rate varies by vaccination status.

The seven-day average case rate for fully vaccinated individuals was nine per 100,000 residents per day, while the average daily case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 16 per 100,000 residents. View a more detailed depiction of the case rate graph here.

click to enlarge document.jpeg

The CDC published a study indicating unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 and 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than their fully vaccinated counterparts.

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.


Arcata — Saturday, Dec. 18, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m
Red Roof Inn (4975 Valley West Blvd.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

McKinleyville Family Clinic — Sunday, Dec. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
McKinleyville High School (1300 Murray Road)
Ages 5-18 and family members.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No testing available.
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose.
Appointments required.

Fortuna Family Clinic — Monday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walker Elementary School (2089 Newburg Road)
Ages 5-18 and family members.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 16 and older.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No testing available.
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 10,569 with 465 hospitalizations and 120 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 50.4 million cases have been confirmed with 800,939 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.9 million cases and 74,996 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.

Dec. 17, 2021 - 1 New Hospitalization, 48 New Cases Reported
Humboldt County Public Health reported today 48 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 10,569 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus. One new hospitalization, a resident in their 60s, was also reported.

Although there are no known cases locally, the Omicron variant has been confirmed in California and 35 other states, and incidence is anticipated to rise over the next several weeks following holiday gatherings. The Omicron variant is highly transmissible, but health officials cite new data that suggests primary vaccination and booster shots can limit impacts, including hospitalizations and deaths.

California recently expanded its Pfizer booster eligibility for 16- and 17-year-olds and is encouraging boosters as protection against Omicron. A person who is fully vaccinated is half as likely to pass on the infection as someone who is unvaccinated. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an unvaccinated person is nearly six times more likely to get COVID-19 than a vaccinated person and 14 times more likely to die.

On Thursday, the CDC updated its messaging for COVID-19 vaccines, specifying that Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are preferred over Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, but that being vaccinated with any approved vaccine is better than being unvaccinated. Newly reported data indicates that thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS, a very rare blood clotting syndrome, is more common among people who recently got a J&J vaccine.

Humboldt County Public Health will continue to offer the J&J vaccine at all of their clinics in order to not limit options. Health Officer Ian Hoffman said, “Locally, we have ample supply of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) for people to choose from and if someone choses J&J due to medical or personal choices, we want that option to be available. The risk of vaccination with any product is still far less than the risk of COVID-19 complications.” He said people questioning which vaccine is right for them should consult their primary care provider.

Since the last data update on Dec. 10, the county has recorded 223 new cases of COVID-19. No deaths have been reported during that period. Seven new hospitalizations of residents were reported. Six were unvaccinated and one was vaccinated. Age ranges of reported hospitalizations are as follows:

1 person in their 20s
2 people in their 40s
2 people in their 60s
2 people in their 70s

The current seven-day average case rate in Humboldt County is approximately 14, meaning for every 100,000 residents, approximately 14 tested positive daily over the last seven days. Case rates vary considerably by vaccination status, as illustrated in the graph below, which depicts average weekly case rates since Dec. 2020 in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated residents.

click to enlarge document.jpeg

The current seven-day average case rate for fully vaccinated individuals is 9 per 100,000 residents while the case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 16 per 100,000 residents. View a more detailed depiction of the case rate graph here.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, Public Health will hold a mobile vaccine clinic in Arcata at the Community United of North Arcata’s (CUNA) Winter Arts and Artisan Market at the Red Roof Inn, 4975 Valley West Blvd., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature local food vendors and performers. The Area 1 Agency on Aging announced it is offering incentives to individuals aged 60 and older who receive a vaccine at the clinic, or the caregiver of the person aged 60 or older who receives a shot.

Public Health is offering family vaccination clinics throughout December to give priority to children aged 5 to 11 and provide family members a convenient way to get their vaccines.

Vaccines, including boosters, are available at local pharmacies. To check the availability of a specific vaccine, visit the vaccines.gov page, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to locate a nearby pharmacy offering vaccines.

Humboldt County’s vaccination and testing services are available free of charge. Although walk-ins are allowed at most regular Public Health clinics and many pharmacy vaccination sites, a sharp increase in demand for boosters has caused delays at some locations. As a result, appointments are required for pediatric clinics and for clinics at Public Health’s main office. Appointments are strongly recommended for all other clinics and are the best way to ensure a shot is available during your visit. Appointments can be made at MyTurn.ca.gov.

See the schedule below for specific Public Health vaccination and testing clinic dates, times, locations and available services:

Arcata — Saturday, Dec. 18, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m
Red Roof Inn (4975 Valley West Blvd.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

McKinleyville Family Clinic — Sunday, Dec. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
McKinleyville High School (1300 Murray Road)
Ages 5-18 and family members.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No testing available.
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose.
Appointments required.

Fortuna Family Clinic — Monday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walker Elementary School (2089 Newburg Road)
Ages 5-18 and family members.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No testing available.
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose.
Appointments strongly recommended.

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 1-707-441-5000.

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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