Monday, January 3, 2022

Public Health Confirms 400 New COVID-19 Cases, Omicron's Presence in Humboldt

Posted By on Mon, Jan 3, 2022 at 4:04 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 reported this afternoon that it has confirmed 4oo COVID-19 cases since its last report Thursday, as well as one new hospitalization and another death. The department also confirmed the first cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant locally

Today's tally represents the most cases to be included in a testing report locally since the pandemic began, nearly doubling the prior record of 216 reported on Monday, Aug. 19. For context, the cases reported today represent approximately 3.5 percent of the county's cumulative tally in the 680 days since Humboldt confirmed its first case of the virus.

Potentially explaining the sharp spike in cases, Public Health also reported that Humboldt County has confirmed its first two cases of the Omicron variant locally, in testing samples taken between Dec. 19 and Dec. 21, meaning the variant has likely been circulating in the county at least for a couple weeks.

"While we've known that Omicron has been circulating throughout the country, the Delta variant is still the dominant variant in Humboldt County," Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in a press release. We will be monitoring closely this week to determine if increasing cases locally are due to Omicron, Delta or both."

Hoffman urged local residents to protect themselves and their families from all variants by masking in public settings and gettin vaccinated and boosted when eligible.

Today's cases — which come after the county reported a total of 852 in December — come after laboratories processed 477 samples with a test-positivity rate of 31 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 December.

Over the past seven days, Humboldt County has confirmed 516 new cases, or approximately 54.6 per day per 100,000 residents, while recording a test-positivity rate of 23.3 percent. California, meanwhile, has confirmed an average of 46 new cases daily per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 15.9 percent, while the nation has seen an average of 56 new cases confirmed daily per 100,000 residents and a test-positivity rate of 20.8 percent over the past seven days.

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, ventilate indoor spaces, 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.

Public Health also reported Thursday that 1,093 local residents had become fully vaccinated since its last report Dec. 15, and 62 percent of the county's population is now fully vaccinated.

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 11 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 Thursday that Humboldt's seven-day average case rate is approximately 15, 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, with the unvaccinated seeing an average case rate of 20 per 100,000 residents compared to 16 for the fully vaccinated.

click to enlarge document.jpg

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 COVID-19, and the county has a host of no-cost clinics scheduled over the next week. With the upcoming holidays and high demand for testing and vaccine, Public Health highly recommends scheduling an appointment for either.  

Eureka — Tuesday, Jan. 4, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 16 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments required.

Eureka Pediatric — Tuesday, Jan. 4, 1:15 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Jan. 4, 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.

Fortuna — Wednesday, Jan. 5, noon to 6 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments strongly recommended.

Trinidad — Thursday, Jan. 6, 2 to 7 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka— Friday, Jan. 7, 1. to 8 p.m
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment on the lower floor of the Wharfinger Building.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka Family Clinic— Saturday, Jan. 8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jefferson Community Center (1000 B St.)
Ages 5-18 and family members. No boosters.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Jan. 10, 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.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 11,352 with 478 hospitalizations and 123 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 53.7 million cases have been confirmed with 820,355
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 5.1 million cases and 75,847 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.

Jan. 3, 2022 - 1 Death, 1 New Hospitalization, 400 New Cases Reported Since Thursday
Humboldt County Public Health reported today the death of a resident in their 70s from COVID-19. Staff in the Department Operations Center extend their condolences to all who have lost a loved one to the virus. One new hospitalization, a person aged 80 or older, was also reported.

Four hundred new cases of COVID-19 were reported since Thursday, bringing to 11,352 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Public Health also reported that two local positive COVID-19 cases tested between Dec. 19 and 21, were identified as Omicron variant.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman said, “While we’ve known that Omicron has been circulating throughout the country, the Delta variant is still the dominant variant in Humboldt County. We will be monitoring closely this week to determine if increasing cases locally are due to Omicron, Delta or both.”

Hoffman advised residents to protect themselves and their families from all the COVID-19 variants by wearing masks in public settings and getting vaccinated or boosted when eligible. Health officials continue to stress that vaccination and booster shots can lessen the impacts of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, reducing hospitalizations and deaths, as well as reducing impacts of the virus to schools and businesses.

The current positivity rate in the county — the percent of positive tests relative to the total number of tests resulted in the past week — is slightly more than 19 percent. Since the last report on Thursday, 400 of the 1,293 samples tested were determined to be positive.

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, an 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.

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.

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

Eureka — Tuesday, Jan. 4, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 16 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments required.

Eureka Pediatric — Tuesday, Jan. 4, 1:15 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Jan. 4, 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.

Fortuna — Wednesday, Jan. 5, noon to 6 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments strongly recommended.

Trinidad — Thursday, Jan. 6, 2 to 7 p.m.
Trinidad Town Hall (409 Trinity St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka— Friday, Jan. 7, 1. to 8 p.m
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment on the lower floor of the Wharfinger Building.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka Family Clinic— Saturday, Jan. 8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jefferson Community Center (1000 B St.)
Ages 5-18 and family members. No boosters.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Jan. 10, 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.

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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