Medical / Health

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Eureka, County Are Parties in Opioid Settlement Agreement

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 11:02 AM

Eureka and Humboldt County are parties to the tentative multi-billion-dollar settlement reached this week in a landmark lawsuit brought by thousands of municipal governments and more than two dozen states against Purdue Pharma, the company that created OxyContin.

The settlement — which still needs to be ratified by plaintiffs and approved by the judge — reportedly involves Purdue Pharma filing for bankruptcy protection, dissolving and emerging as a new company, the profits of which would be distributed among plaintiffs in the case. The deal also would reportedly see Purdue Pharma’s owners, the Sackler family, pay out $3 billion in cash over seven years but includes no admission of wrongdoing. According to NBC News, the entire settlement is valued at $10 billion to $12 billion.
The county of Humboldt, home to more opioid prescriptions than people, and the city of Eureka are parties to the tentative settlement reached with Purdue Pharma in the massive opioid lawsuit that includes more than 2,000 municipalities. - FLICKR
  • Flickr
  • The county of Humboldt, home to more opioid prescriptions than people, and the city of Eureka are parties to the tentative settlement reached with Purdue Pharma in the massive opioid lawsuit that includes more than 2,000 municipalities.
Eureka City Attorney Bob Black said the city is still awaiting details on the particulars of the settlement and how funds would be distributed, noting that the agreement will need to be approved by at least 75 percent of plaintiffs in the case to take effect.

That may prove a high bar, as some parties have already publicly criticized the settlement as inadequate.

“@purduepharma has provided an insultingly weak offer to the American people for the #OpioidEpidemic that they’ve fueled for decades,” Pensylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro tweeted yesterday. “It allows them to walk away billionaires and admit no wrongdoing. I don’t accept that.”

A sticking point in settlement negotiations has reportedly been how much of its personal fortunate the Sackler family would be included in a payout. The case had been scheduled for trial next month in Ohio.

In its complaints — filed by the firm Keller Rohrback — Eureka and the county alleged Purdue Pharma violated federal racketeering laws and constituted a public nuisance by minimizing addiction risks associated with OxyContin, which led to overprescribing and fueled the national opioid epidemic.

The Yurok Tribe also has a suit pending against Purude Pharma, though we don’t know if it, too, is included in the tentative settlement agreement, as an email to the tribe’s spokesperson has not yet been returned.

Confirming that Humboldt County is a party to the settlement, Spokesperson Sean Quincey, like Black, said the particular provisions of the agreement aren’t yet clear.

“The settlement means the county will likely receive an award of money to compensate us for the damage created by the opioid crisis but we do not yet have the details of the agreement,” he said.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Local Officials Warn Against Cannabis Use During Pregnancy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 10:33 AM

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Officials from the local group Perinatal Substance Use Disorder Project presented research on the risks of cannabis use during pregnancy to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The group — which started meeting in 2016 to examine the high rates of perinatal substance use in the county — informed the board that research shows cannabis use during pregnancy can increase the risk of low birth weight and affect a baby’s brain development. The group also posed “a resolution stressing the importance of women who are pregnant, contemplating pregnancy or breast feeding to avoid using cannabis.

“With the legalization of cannabis for adult use, the conversation about recommendations for the use of cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding has been emphasized statewide. Without research-based messaging, women are relying on their peers and CBD or cannabis businesses for information.” DHHS Public Health Director Michele Stephens said in a release from the Department of Human Health and Services. 

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Newsom Signs Landmark Police Use-of-Force Bill

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:25 PM

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.

The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis intervention methods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill. - PHOTO BY DAN MORAIN, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Dan Morain, CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill.

“I would hope that if AB 392 had been law last year, that our family would not have to be mourning Christopher’s first angelversary today,” Barbara Okamoto said in a statement.

Her grandson, Christopher Okamoto, was killed in Bakersfield last Aug. 19, when police responded to a domestic violence call. He had a pellet gun.

The law reflects a compromise between civil-rights advocates who want to limit when police can shoot and law enforcement groups who said earlier versions of the bill would have put officers in danger.

Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most significant changes will allow prosecutors to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified.

“This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation.

The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed and will likely leave it to courts to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Gist Hall Re-Opens After Asbestos Shutdown

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
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  • Humboldt State University
After a presence of disturbed asbestos found in a “space used to help circulate air” closed down Gist Hall in May, Humboldt State University has announced the building reopened this week.

Right before the spring semester ended, HSU closed down the building to test for traces of asbestos. Tests later confirmed no asbestos fibers were found in the air but some materials did contain asbestos, leading the school to close down the building.

Throughout the summer, the school worked with an outside firm to clean the building and hired a contractor to remove the “disturbed material” before the fall semester. The school passed the final air clearance test and has reopened the building.

Gist Hall’s reopening will be celebrated Thursday, Aug. 15, with light refreshments, a release states. Classes resume Aug. 26.

Read the full press release below:
After final air clearance test results showed that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air, Gist Hall re-opened as scheduled on Monday, August 12 at 8 a.m.

HSU will celebrate the re-opening on Thursday, August 15 in the lobby of Gist Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

On May 10, Gist Hall was shut down out of an abundance of caution following the discovery of the possible presence of disturbed asbestos. The disturbed material was found during a check of the building’s systems following reports of heating issues. It was discovered in a plenum — a space used to help circulate air — behind an access panel on the second floor.

After an extensive evaluation, the building was closed that day to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. Classes were relocated, all activities were suspended, and the campus community was notified. Various tests conducted over the next few weeks showed: No asbestos fibers were in the air.

The material presumed to be disturbed asbestos contained some asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers were not present in similar loose material that had been found in various areas of the building. Contractors removed the disturbed asbestos and the University passed the required final air clearance test.
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Battle of the Badges Nets Record-Breaking Day at the Blood Bank

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2019 at 11:24 AM

Yesterday’s Battle of the Badges at the Northern California Community Blood Bank was a competition with one clear winner — patients. The friendly rivalry between 16 local public safety agencies brought the highest number of donors the nonprofit blood bank has seen in a single day since 2001. In total, 188 people gave their time, their blood and the gift of life to those in need.

One-hundred-seventy units of blood were collected and, “in a very close competition, the Eureka Police Department won the battle with 38 donations,” John Gullam, director of Donor Resources at NCCBB said.

Last year, 74 donors participated with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office getting credit for 25 and winning the trophy. So this year was a roaring success. Gullam particularly noted how pleased his organization was to have brought in 50 first-time donors.

“This is hugely important as we work toward replacing Baby Boomers as they become ineligible,” he explained.

This year’s event was only the second annual Battle of the Badges. The idea is to bring in donors during the summer season, which is traditionally a slow time of year for blood banks. So, local public safety agencies are asked to roll up their sleeves and compete to see who can provide the most donor, with a trophy given to the agency with the highest number of givers. Members of the public can also donate and ask that their favorite agency get the credit.

The success of this event will lead to more events like it in the future and Gullam wanted to give special credit to two people.

“Huge thanks to [EPD] Capt. Brian Stevens and Sheriff Billy Honsal for their work promoting the drive and encouraging their staff,” he noted.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

County Confirms First Local Whooping Cough Case Since 2016

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 10:12 AM

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Humboldt County public health officials are on alert after a Eureka teenager tested positive for the highly contagious whooping cough earlier this week.

According to a press release from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, a follow up investigation identified 40 people who may have had contact with the teenager while he or she was contagious.

Officially known as pertussis, whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection that can cause serious health risks for people of all ages, with infants at the greatest risk.

“About half of infants diagnosed with pertussis will be hospitalized, so it’s critically important that pregnant women are vaccinated during their third trimester to provide newborns with maternal antibodies,” said Public Health Supervising Communicable Disease Nurse Hava Phillips.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Test Shows 'Some Asbestos' in Material Found in Gist Hall

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 3:25 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
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  • Humboldt State University
Material found in Gist Hall earlier this month “does indeed contain some asbestos," according to a statement posted today on the Humboldt State University website.

Other “loose materials” found in the building will also be tested, with results expected back next week. Meanwhile, HSU is working with an outside firm on a clean-up plan, according to the statement, which notes that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air.

“With the discovery of additional material found in the building, the scope of the cleanup will likely be wider than anticipated,” the statement reads. “As a result, Gist Hall will remain closed until mid-July out of an abundance of caution. The air will be tested again for the presence of asbestos fibers before the building reopens.”

For the time being, Gist Hall is off limits with “no exceptions” and the university directs employees to contact their supervisors with any questions.

“Based on the location of the materials and other factors, employees in Gist Hall were not exposed to disturbed asbestos, which is a naturally-occurring mineral and was commonly used in particular construction materials prior to 1978,” the statement reads.

Read the Humboldt State University statement below:

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

HSU: Gist Hall Still Closed, Test Finds No Asbestos in the Air

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2019 at 12:54 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
Testing by a private lab found no asbestos fibers in the air of Gist Hall, which has been closed for nearly a week after “disturbed material” was discovered during a routine check of the building’s systems, according to a release today from Humboldt State University.

A second test to “confirm that it is indeed disturbed asbestos” is slated and the results are expected by the end of the week.

“Until then, out of an abundance of caution, Gist Hall will remain closed for an estimated two to six weeks,” the release states. “During that time, the University will contract with a firm to develop a plan and carry out the cleanup.”

The discovery of the possible disturbed asbestos and ensuing closure of Gist Hall came in the midst of finals, with exams slated for the building moved to new locations.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

Gist Hall Remains Closed, Finals Relocated

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2019 at 9:48 AM

Humboldt State University - FILE
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  • Humboldt State University
Gist Hall at Humboldt State University remains closed today “out of an abundance of caution” after Friday’s discovery of what could be disturbed asbestos and finals have been moved to new locations.

“All classes and other activities in Gist Hall have been suspended,” a release from HSU states. “There is no access to offices or other spaces. Services and other programs in the building are being relocated, and those directly affected are receiving guidance from their divisions or departments.

Employees who work in Gist Hall are directed to call their supervisors. Click here for the list of relocated finals.

Read the notice from HSU below:


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Friday, May 10, 2019

'Possible' Disturbed Asbestos Closes Down Gist Hall

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2019 at 10:33 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University’s Gist Hall “has been closed until further notice” after what the university describes as “the possible presence of disturbed asbestos” was detected during a “routine check” on Friday.

According to a post on the HSU website, tests will be conducted over the weekend and Monday. The university asks employees who worked in Gist Hall to contact their supervisors. Finals are being relocated.

“All events and other activities in the building have been suspended, and there is no access to offices or classrooms. Finals are being relocated, and that schedule will be shared by email and posted on the building doors as soon as possible,” the post reads.

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