Friday, January 7, 2022

Public Health Confirms 72 New COVID-19 Cases, Two Hospitalizations

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2022 at 3:38 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 72 new cases today — making 853  this week — as well as two new hospitalizations, while also reporting that local hospitalization rates continue to be "17 times higher in unvaccinated individuals."

Today's cases —which came after a single day record reported Tuesday, which came after 400 cases were reported Monday as having been confirmed since Dec. 30 — come amid news the highly contagious Omicron variant has been confirmed to be circulating in Humboldt County. For context, more than 7.2 percent of the cumulative cases the county has confirmed since its first recorded positive test 685 days ago have now come since Dec. 30.

"As part of its ongoing monitoring, a small number of samples of positive COVID-19 cases from primarily health care staff tested this week by the Humboldt County Public Health Lab suggest that the Omicron variant is increasing in the community," Public Health reported in a press release. "Additional samples from the state have confirmed cases of Omicron from late December and early January."

In a sharp contrast to previous reports, Public Health also notes that for the first time infection rates are higher for vaccinated residents than their unvaccinated counterparts, an indication that Omicron — which has been shown to infect the unvaccinated and vaccinated at similar rates — is spreading locally. Specifically, the report notes that vaccinated residents are being infected at a seven-day average rate of 63 per 100,000 residents, while the unvaccinated are being infected at a rate of 37 per 100,000. (It's important to note, however, that there are now almost twice as many vaccinated residents in Humboldt County as unvaccinated, and that unvaccinated residents continue to suffer the brunt of hospitalizations and severe illness. More on that below.)

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Public Health, meanwhile, reported Wednesday it is modifying local quarantine and isolation requirements for asymptomatic individuals, reducing it from 10 days to five under specific conditions. (The full guidance can be found here.) Yesterday, California also extended a statewide indoor mask mandate in public settings, though one has remained in place in Humboldt County for months.

Monday, the county reported that genomic sequencing on two samples taken between Dec. 19 and Dec. 21 were determined to be Omicron, meaning the variant has likely been circulating in the county for at least a couple of weeks. For more on the Omicron variant and what it means for Humboldt, read this week's Journal cover story here.

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

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 516 samples with a test-positivity rate of 14 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. So far in January, it has leapt to 29.4 percent.

Over the past seven days, Humboldt County has confirmed 853 new cases, or approximately 90.3 per day per 100,000 residents, while recording a test-positivity rate of 29.4 percent. California, meanwhile, has confirmed an average of 124.5 new cases daily per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 21.7 percent, while the nation has seen an average of 722 new cases confirmed daily per 100,000 residents and a test-positivity rate of 26.3 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.

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 18 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with one 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 also reported today that since June 5, 16 fully vaccinated residents have died from COVID-19, with an average age of 79. Over the same period, 47 unvaccinated residents have died from the virus, with an average age of 66. The same period also saw 55 fully vaccinated residents hospitalized with an average age of 74, while 236 unvaccinated residents were hospitalized with an average age of 57.

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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.

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.

Eureka — Tuesday, Jan. 11, 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 Clinic — Tuesday, Jan. 11, 1:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Jan. 11, 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. 12, noon to 6 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment only at the Fortuna River Lodge
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Thursday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
College of the Redwoods Gym Lobby (7351 Tompkins Hill Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Petrolia — Friday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Honeydew — Friday, Jan. 14, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 11,805 with 484 hospitalizations and 124 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 58.6 million cases have been confirmed with 831,729
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 5.6 million cases and 76,341 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. 7, 2022 - 2 New Hospitalizations, 72 New Cases Reported
Humboldt County Public Health reported today 72 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 11,805 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus. Two new hospitalizations, a resident in their 50s and one in their 70s, were also reported.

As part of its ongoing monitoring, a small number of samples of positive COVID-19 cases from primarily health care staff tested this week by the Humboldt County Public Health Lab suggest that the Omicron variant is increasing in the community. Additional samples from the state have confirmed cases of Omicron from late December and early January.

As the pandemic continues, health officials say to pay attention to hospitalizations more than positive cases, adding that vaccination and boosters provide an increased level of protection from Omicron, Delta and other variants and those individuals who are fully vaccinated or boosted typically develop milder symptoms, shorter illness, and less severe illness with fewer hospitalizations. Locally, hospitalizations continue to be 17 times higher in unvaccinated individuals.

Public Health officials continue to stress that residents, especially those who are unvaccinated, continue to protect themselves and their families from all COVID-19 variants by following mask requirements in public settings, socially distancing and getting vaccinated or boosted when eligible to do so.

Since the last data update on Dec. 30, the county has recorded 853 new cases of COVID-19. Two deaths were reported during that period, both unvaccinated. Seven new hospitalizations of residents were also reported. Six were unvaccinated and one was vaccinated. Age ranges of reported hospitalizations are as follows:

1 person in their 50s
2 people in their 60s
1 person in their 70s
3 people aged 80 or older
The graphs below — which depict average weekly case rates, hospitalization and death rates in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated local residents — show that more severe outcomes from COVID-19 are higher among unvaccinated individuals.

Since June 5, 16 fully vaccinated Humboldt County resident have died from COVID-19. The average age of those deaths was 79. During that same period, 47 unvaccinated residents have died from the virus. The average age of those deaths was 66. During that same time, 55 fully vaccinated residents were hospitalized with an average age of 74. As well, 236 unvaccinated individuals were hospitalized with an average age of 57.

click to enlarge document.jpeg

With data starting on June 5, the graph above illustrates the county’s weekly hospitalization rate for vaccinated individuals is currently is 0.1 per 100,000 while the rate for unvaccinated individuals is 17 times higher at 1.7 per 100,000. View a more detailed depiction of the hospitalization and death rates graph.

The current seven-day average case rate in Humboldt County is approximately 48, meaning for every 100,000 residents, approximately 48 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 February 2021 in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated residents.

click to enlarge document-2.jpeg

The most recent seven-day average case rate for the period ending Dec. 26, for fully vaccinated individuals is 63 per 100,000 residents, while the case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 37 per 100,000 residents. View a more detailed depiction of the case rate graph here.

As always, 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 your 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. Questions about clinic services can be directed to the Joint Information Center at 1-707-441-5000.

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 for vaccinations 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 on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations 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.

Eureka — Tuesday, Jan. 11, 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 Clinic — Tuesday, Jan. 11, 1:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Jan. 11, 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. 12, noon to 6 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment only at the Fortuna River Lodge.
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Thursday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
College of the Redwoods Gym Lobby (7351 Tompkins Hill Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Petrolia — Friday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Honeydew — Friday, Jan. 14, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments for vaccinations 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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