Medical / Health

Thursday, April 2, 2020

HCOE Recommends Schools Remain Closed for the Term

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2020 at 11:55 AM

According to a press release, the Humboldt County Office of Education plans to follow the advice of Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich and the recommendation of Gov. Newsom and advise local school facilities to remain closed through the end of the school year. Distance learning implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 will continue. The individual district closures and status of graduations and other end-of-year events are to be determined and announced by each district.

Read the full press release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Humboldt County School Closures

Yesterday in a press conference, Governor Gavin Newsom, with the backing of Superintendent of Schools, Tony Thurmond, shared the expectation that all school districts and charters in California continue to provide distance learning opportunities for students and their families for the remainder of the school year.

Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) and local school districts, have consulted with Public Health Officer, Dr. Teresa Frankovich, who advises all school districts in Humboldt County follow the Governor’s recommendation and plan for continued closure of facilities through the end of the school year.
According to Dr. Frankovich, “The situation is changing quickly and there is increasing evidence, as we look at impacted areas across the country, that aggressive social distancing can significantly help to slow transmission of this infection. Maintaining distance learning and keeping school facilities closed through the end of the school year will allow schools and families to plan appropriately. Schools and Public Health will continue to monitor the situation and should circumstances allow for an earlier return to school, we will make that decision together.”
Humboldt County schools began school facility closures on March 16 and have been developing and delivering high quality distance learning instruction for students, providing students with meals, and working on systems for childcare. Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Chris Hartley, supports the campuses being physically closed through the end of the academic year and applauds district efforts in meeting student needs, including the massive response in providing school meals.
“Schools are critical in assisting Public Health in emphasizing the importance of shelter in place and social distancing. We are thankful for their proactive efforts,” states Dr. Frankovich.
“Our main priority is the health and safety of our students, families, and staff,” states Hartley. “Social distancing remains critical as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase, and while we recognize the difficulty and challenges this poses to many, maintaining closure of school facilities is prudent and allows our educators and HCOE to continue developing and improving distance learning education for students.”
All HCOE school programs will remain physically closed. Local districts will be working with their respective Boards to weigh local needs and state and local recommendations in determining their district plans for distance learning and facility closures, and announce to their communities accordingly. Additionally, in-person graduation events, promotions, and activities are yet to be fully determined and will be evaluated and communicated by individual districts as time draws.
HCOE will continue to partner with districts to improve upon the distance learning programs, services, and supports for districts and families in our community. Hartley reassures, “School is not over. Humboldt County schools are the heartbeat of our communities. They will continue to provide essential services for students and families by embracing innovation and collaboration.”
News, information, and resources for families, including meal distribution schedules, are available and regularly updated at hcoe.org/covid-19.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Public Health Announces County's 28th COVID-19 Case, Releases Limited Demographic Information

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 5:17 PM

Humboldt County Public Health has confirmed another positive case of COVID-19 locally, bringing the total to 28, and released limited demographic information about the infected population.

See the full press release below.

April 1, 2020 - One New Case of COVID-19 Confirmed; Limited Demographic Information Now Available

The number of COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County now totals 28, following confirmation of one additional positive case today.

Of those 28 people, eight had traveled internationally, 13 had contact with a known case and three are believed to have contracted the virus through community transmission. Four additional cases are under investigation.

Three quarters of Humboldt County’s cases are located around areas with the largest populations—Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna and McKinleyville. The average age of those infected is 41. Males represent 54 percent of cases, while 46 percent are female.

County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich warned against reading too much into these statistics. “It should be expected that larger population centers will have larger numbers of cases,” she said. “No area of the county is considered to be low risk because we have community transmission occurring.”

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

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‘Warm Hearted City' Lends a Hand

Posted By and on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 11:41 AM

Mayor Debra Garnes sets out on a volunteer corp. delivery. - CITY OF RIO DELL
  • City of Rio Dell
  • Mayor Debra Garnes sets out on a volunteer corp. delivery.
A volunteer group in Rio Dell is living up to the riverside hamlet’s motto of “Warm Hearted City” by putting out word that support for residents is available during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, as well as making home deliveries — with precautions, of course.

When it became clear a few weeks ago that some of Rio Dell’s nearly 4.000 residents would be self-isolating, a group of city leaders — including Mayor Debra Garnes, City Manager Kyle Knopp, chamber President Nick Angeloff and Sara Faught of the Community Resource Center — realized a response team would be needed and began seeking out potential members.

Cue the creation of the Rio Dell Volunteer Corps.

“We’re really thinking of it in a holistic manner. People 65 and older are self-isolating and sometimes they are alone and they might need someone to talk to, to reach out to,” said Garnes said, who is also one of the volunteers. “We’re building it as we go. The bottom line is that we’re trying to do everything we can to help our seniors in any way.”

As of March 26, Knopp said the effort had 14 volunteers and was using a church facility, the chamber building and city hall to get together the supplies. The city manager said they’re providing protective gear to volunteers and need to make sure individuals are vetted and coordination efforts stay manageable.

“So right now, a small number of volunteers can go a long way. But down the road, we may need more,” Knopp said in an email to the Journal.

Last week, the team distributed 25 bags full of canned and dry goods to seniors throughout Rio Dell but Knopp said the effort is having difficulty reaching some of the targeted demographic of individuals 65 or older.

“We have to create that registry from scratch. Most in this group do not use social media, so we have to go back to traditional outreach, mail and neighbors,” he said, adding the city will sending out a direct door mailer this week that will explain how to sign up, noting not every senior wants or needs help.

Rio Dell officials are urging residents to heed the shelter-in-place order that was extended to this week in a proactive bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those who need assistance from the Rio Dell Volunteer Corp are asked to call city hall during normal business hours at 764‐3532.

Interested volunteers can email volunteers@cityofriodell.ca.gov.

The city said that the corps will do its best but the service can only run as long as supplies and volunteers are available, and there’s no guarantee all requests can be met.

“We want to lead with not just words but with action. If we stick together, we will get through this together,” Garnes said.


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Property Taxes are Still Coming Due Although Late Waivers May Apply

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 9:56 AM

The Humboldt County Treasurer-Tax Collector Office may be closed but property taxes are still due. - FILE
  • File
  • The Humboldt County Treasurer-Tax Collector Office may be closed but property taxes are still due.
The second installment of Humboldt County property taxes is still due by April 10 regardless of the COVID-19 shutdown, although officials say late penalties may be waived.

The payments were actually owed in February but the stiff fees and interest accrued for missing the deadline don’t begin accumulating until after the two-month grace period ends.

Humboldt’s Treasurer-Tax Collector John Bartholomew — like many of his colleagues across the state — is reminding property owners about the importance of paying on time.

“At times like these we all need to help each other and therefore we urge everyone who is in a position to pay property taxes on time to do so, as required by state law,” he said in a press release. “Humboldt County citizens rely on services provided by teachers, fire fighters, public health and safety officers, and other county services. Property tax revenues are vital to keeping their agencies, departments, and schools funded and services uninterrupted.”

The release also notes that the installment deadlines are set in state law and not continuing the tax collections could have a “catastrophic impact on local funding” of the essential services.

At least two California counties — Santa Clara and Los Angeles — are going to allow partial payments, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.


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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Public Health Announces Six New Positive Cases of COVID-19, Bringing the Total to 27

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 5:20 PM

Public Health announced today that it has recorded six new positive COVID-19 cases.

Humboldt County's number of COVID-19 cases continued to climb yesterday, as Public Health announced three new positive cases. Today's announcement brings the county-wide total to 27. All but one of those have been reported in the last 11 days, including news last week of Humboldt County's first COVID-19 related hospitalization. (Officials have declined to release any information about the hospitalized patient or their condition.)

HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services
Humboldt County Public Health workers are conducting extensive contact investigations to determine when and how they became infected.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County has spiked sharply since the second positive test was reported March 20 in someone who had recently returned from traveling in a "high-risk" country. (The county's first positive test was announced Feb. 20 in someone who'd just returned from China and has since recovered.)

On March 24, the county announced three additional cases, including positive tests from two members of a group that had recently returned from international travel. The following day, it announced five additional positives, all related to the same traveling group. Two more tests came March 28, followed by four more March 28 and three on March 30.

To date, the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory has processed 364 tests, while corporate laboratories have processed an additional 332 samples. Public Health reports it has supplies on hand locally to conduct another 750 tests.

Statewide, California has recorded 6,932 positive cases and 150 deaths related to COVID-19.


Basics of COVID-19
The California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control, state that symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

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. St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals have opened tents on their campuses to begin screening patients who have “significant” symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus. The general hours of operation for the tents is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but that is subject to change.

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 assess risk factors for contracting the illness, which can be found at www.providence.org/patients-and-visitors/coronavirus-advisory.

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.

See the full press release copied below:



Three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed today, bringing the total to 27 local cases since the outbreak in Humboldt County began.

The method of transmission for these new cases is under investigation.

Following the updated shelter-in-place order and social distancing guidelines continue to be the most effective way to prevent spread of COVID-19. Read the updated order here: humboldtgov.org/DocumentCenter/View/84939/Shelter-in-Place-Order-signed-033020







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Blue Lake Rancheria Delivers Meals to Tribal Elders During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 1:00 PM

BLUE LAKE RANCHERIA
  • Blue Lake Rancheria

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Elder Nutrition Program is delivering three weeks' worth of meals to the 70 tribe elders enrolled in the meal program amid the COVID-19 outbreak.


“We know coronavirus poses a greater threat to the elderly,” Jason Ramos, Blue Lake Rancheria tribal council member, said in a press release. “So we are determined to safely deliver food to elders, so they can shelter-in-place at home and not worry about their next meal.”


According to the release, more than 12,000 meals have been prepared and stored for delivery later this week. The tribe is delivering meals from Rio Dell to Weaverville.


The food program is also seeing an increase in demand as members of other organizations and tribes in the area can be added to the list of food deliveries.


“We are really pulling together our resources to take care of the elderly, who especially depend on us right now,” Arla Ramsey, the tribe’s vice-chairperson said in a press release.


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Public Health Announces Two Community Transmission COVID-19 Cases (VIDEO)

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 11:41 AM

Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich and Sheriff William Honsal talk COVID-19 at last night's virtual town hall meeting. - COURTESY OF DHHS
  • Courtesy of DHHS
  • Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich and Sheriff William Honsal talk COVID-19 at last night's virtual town hall meeting.

Humboldt County has recorded its first cases of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich announced at a virtual town hall meeting moderated by the Journal last night.

Frankovich said contact investigations in two recent positive cases failed to find the patients had any contacts with other people confirmed to have the virus or that they had traveled outside the local area, leading investigators to believe they contracted COVID-19 from an unknown source within the community.

“We must all acknowledge the fact that while case counts are incredibly important for monitoring this pandemic, everyone must assume that COVID is circulating within their own city or town, and act accordingly,” Frankovich said. “The measures we have been advocating remain critically important: staying at home unless you must go out for an essential need; staying at home when you’re ill until you have been without fever for three days without use of [fever reducing medicine], have had improvement in your symptoms and have had at least seven days since the onset of your symptoms; wash your hands frequently and well; use hand sanitizer when that isn’t available; cover your coughs and sneezes; clean commonly used surfaces.”

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Humboldt County COVID-19 Cases Now at 21

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 6:20 PM

Public Health announced this evening that it has recorded three new positive COVID-19 cases.

Humboldt County's spike in COVID-19 cases continued Saturday, with Public Health announcing four new positive cases. Today's announcement brings the county-wide total to 21. All but one of those have been reported in the last 10 days, including news last week of Humboldt County's first COVID-19 related hospitalization. (Officials have declined to release any information about the hospitalized patient or their condition.)

HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services

Investigations remain ongoing into how the latest patients contracted the virus, with Public Health workers conducting extensive contact investigations to determine when and how they became infected.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County has spiked sharply since the second positive test was reported March 20 in someone who had recently returned from traveling in a "high-risk" country. (The county's first positive test was announced Feb. 20 in someone who'd just returned from China and has since recovered.)

On March 24, the county announced three additional cases, including positive tests from two members of a group that had recently returned from international travel. The following day, it announced five additional positives, all related to the same traveling group. Two more tests came March 26, followed by two more March 27 and four on March 28.

To date, the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory has processed 328 tests, while corporate laboratories have processed an additional 216 samples. Public Health reports it has supplies on hand locally to conduct another 700 tests.

Statewide, California has recorded 5,763 positive cases and 135 deaths related to COVID-19.


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Sheriff Declares Local Emergency Amid COVID-19

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2020 at 5:19 PM

Sheriff William Honsal - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • Sheriff William Honsal
Sheriff William Honsal today declared a local emergency in response to the coronavirus, a move described as a proactive step to allow the county of Humboldt “to request all available response and recovery assistance from state and federal agencies.”

“[T]he imminent threat posed by aforesaid conditions warrant and necessitate the proclamation of a Local Emergency to enable the County of Humboldt and other local government entities to adequately plan, prepare and preposition resources to be able to effectively respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and to warn Humboldt County residents and visitors of the threat posed by COVID-19 and enable them sufficient time to plan and prepare,” he says in a release.

The local emergency declaration is for seven days, which the board of supervisors can extend.

Things have escalated quickly on the region’s coronavirus front, which saw its first confirmed case in mid-February. The latest available numbers from Public Health today showed 21 active cases, up three from Saturday's numbers, several of which were under investigation as to transmission cause.


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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Redwood National and State Parks Close Parking Lots, Recommend Virtual Tours

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2020 at 4:22 PM

If you've been scanning the list of Redwood State and National Parks to see which ones still have open parking lots, you can stop now. They're all closed, effective immediately. Hikers, walkers and cyclists are still welcome, just not their cars. Also, campgrounds, visitors centers and bathrooms remain closed.

According to a press release, the closure of parking lots is an effort "to support federal, state and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)." Even in the great outdoors, it turns out, the parks, their lots and trails were getting crowded, making it difficult or impossible for visitors to maintain the necessary 6 feet of physical separation recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
Still from a virtual old growth tour. - YOUTUBE
  • YouTube
  • Still from a virtual old growth tour.
Instead, the release states, "The National Park Service and California State Parks encourage people to take advantage of the many digital tools already available to explore Redwood National and State Parks on our webpage." This includes links to YouTube for virtual tours of old growth groves and more that you can scan your way around as a friendly guide tells you all about the environs. We looked at them and the tours provide effective virtual forest bathing for stress relief but may not fool your fitness tracker.

Read the full press release below:

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