Thursday, February 3, 2022

Public Health Confirms 96 New COVID-19 Cases, One Hospitalization

Posted By on Thu, Feb 3, 2022 at 3:24 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 96 new cases of COVID-19 today, making 913 so far this week, as well as one new hospitalization.

Today's cases come on the heels of 1,779 confirmed last week. In total, the county saw 6,438 new cases of the virus confirmed locally in January — a number that equates to 37 percent of the cumulative cases confirmed through the duration fo the 23-month pandemic.

But for the first time in January, the weekly case count decreased week over week last week and are on pace to be down again this week, giving some hope the current case surge, which officials believe is being fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, may have begun to plateau. Local officials, meanwhile, predicted the surge would reach its peak sometime this month.

According to data released Friday from public health, over the week ending Jan. 23, unvaccinated residents tested positive this week at a rate of 97 per 100,000 county residents while fully vaccinated tested positive at a rate of 85 per 100,000 county residents. (It's worth noting here that 64 percent of the county's population is fully vaccinated.) Public Health also reported today that between May 30, 2021, and Jan. 16, 16 fully vaccinated residents died of COVID-19 at an average age of 79, while 52 unvaccinated residents died from the virus at an average age of 67. Over the same period, 63 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized locally due to the virus compared to 254 unvaccinated people, with the average age of hospitalized COVID-19 patients 15 years older for unvaccinated individuals than their fully vaccinated counterparts.

Today, the U.S Food and Drug Administration gave the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine full approval for use on individuals 18 and older, replacing the emergency use authorization under which the vaccine has been given to hundreds of millions of people.

While early data indicates the Omicron variant is less likely than prior iterations of the virus to result in severe illness, local hospitalization numbers — which generally trend 10 days to two weeks behind case trends — are already starting to tick up.

A state database shows 21 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with two under intensive care as of yesterday. The local hospital census peaked Sept. 3 with 42 COVID-19 patients but had fallen to nine patients Dec. 29. Across the nation, the Omicron surge has hit hospitals hard, with an influx of COVID-19 patients needing care, healthcare workers being infected and patients coming into the hospital for non COVID care testing positive for the virus at high rates, forcing hospitals to follow labor-intensive protocols to prevent spread to other patients and staff.

The federal government is providing four free at-home COVID tests per household to increase testing capacity in response to the recent surge in cases. These can be ordered online, free of charge, at www.COVIDTests.gov. Additionally, as of Jan. 15, federal law requires health insurers t0 cover the up-front costs of at-home COVID-19 tests purchased at pharmacies or other retailers.

Early studies indicate the Omicron variant is able to both infect and be transmitted by fully vaccinated people at roughly the same rates as with their unvaccinated counterparts, hastening its spread through the country, state and county. However, public health officials and doctors continue to report that the vaccines remain very effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization, especially in people who have received their booster doses. Locally, just 42 percent of eligible residents have received their boosters, according to this report from CalMatters.

Public Health reported today that approximately 64 percent of the county's total population is now fully vaccinated, with 73 percent of its vaccine eligible population — those 5 and older — fully vaccinated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data indicating unvaccinated adults are more than eight times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated, and Public Health reports locally unvaccinated residents are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus than their vaccinated counterparts.

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 soon as possible.

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.


All residents ages 12 and older are now eligible to receive vaccine boosters if it has been at least five months since they completed their primary vaccination series.

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 — Friday, Feb. 4, 1 to 8 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Ages 12 and older
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 — Saturday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Eureka High School (1915 J St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Feb. 7, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Feb. 8, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka Pediatric Clinic — Tuesday, Feb. 8, 1:15 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments strongly recommended.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Rio Dell — Wednesday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rio Dell Volunteer Fire Department (50 Center St.)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations recommended.

McKinleyville — Thursday, Feb. 10, 2 to 7 p.m.
Church of the Joyful Healer (1944 Central Ave.)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations recommended.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 17,722 with 518 hospitalizations and 131 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 75.3 million cases have been confirmed with 888,784
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 7.9 million cases and 79,802 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.

Feb. 3, 2022 - 1 New Hospitalization, 96 New Cases
Humboldt County Public Health reported today one new hospitalization due to COVID-19, a resident aged 80 or older. An additional 96 new cases were also reported, bringing to 17,722 the total number of confirmed positive cases for the virus.

Daily reported positive cases of COVID-19 have continued to decline from the peak of record-high numbers in January, but health officials caution that community transmission of the virus and confirmed cases remain high and an increase in hospitalizations tend to lag a few weeks after the peak.

Residents, particularly those who are unvaccinated, are encouraged to take protective measures against the highly transmissible Omicron variant by washing hands frequently, wearing a well-fitted mask approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distancing six feet from others when possible and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. The state remains under a mandatory mask requirement order in all indoor public spaces through Feb. 15.

COVID-19 vaccines remain effective against the virus, but CDC data shows their effectiveness at preventing infection or severe illness wanes over time, especially in people aged 65 or older. The CDC and other public health officials recommend eligible individuals aged 12 and older receive a booster, which increases the immune response and provides additional protection against infection and severe disease.

While vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are both at high risk to get COVID-19, the risk of severe outcomes for those who are unvaccinated remains significantly higher. According to the latest data from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), unvaccinated people are eight times more likely to get COVID-19, 13 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 and 22 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated with a booster.

As always, Humboldt County’s vaccination and testing services are available free of charge. While walk-ins are allowed at all Public Health clinics and some pharmacy vaccination sites, appointments are recommended for all vaccinations 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, Feb. 4, 1 to 8 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Ages 5 and older
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 recommended.

Eureka — Saturday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Eureka High School (1915 J St.)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Feb. 7, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Feb. 8, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments recommended.

Eureka Pediatric Clinic — Tuesday, Feb. 8, 1:15 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments recommended.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments for vaccinations recommended.

Rio Dell — Wednesday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rio Dell Volunteer Fire Department (50 Center St.)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations recommended.

McKinleyville — Thursday, Feb. 10, 2 to 7 p.m.
Church of the Joyful Healer (1944 Central Ave.)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations 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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