Science

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Airport Microgrid Project Breaks Ground

Posted By on Thu, Jul 8, 2021 at 6:05 PM

RCEA’s Executive Director Matthew Marshall and his daughter Alex celebrate groundbreaking on the RCAM project - HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY
  • Humboldt State University
  • RCEA’s Executive Director Matthew Marshall and his daughter Alex celebrate groundbreaking on the RCAM project
Construction is underway on a microgrid at the county’s regional airport in McKinleyville that will boast a number of firsts when it becomes operation later this year, according to a Redwood Coast Energy Authority news release.

Not only will the Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid be the first 100 percent renewable grid with multi-customers but it will use a unique collaboration to get out the power and be the first microgrid to participate in the state’s wholesale electricity market, generating enough energy to power the equivalent of 500 homes, the release states.

According to RCEA, which will own the grid, the project will also provide backup resiliency for the California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport and the Sector Humboldt Bay Air Station, with power being transmitted on PG&E lines.

In the event of an outage, the microgrid ”will typically be able to island and run independently for at least two weeks,” the release states, although some weather conditions — such as an extended winter storm — might limit capacity of the solar array.

Designed and developed by the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, which also help develop the Blue Lake Rancheria microgrid that provided a lifeline during the Public Safety Power Shutoffs — the project was funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s EPIC program and a $6.6 million loan from the USDA.

“The Redwood Coast Energy Authority seeks to follow the airport project with a network of community microgrids and renewable backup power systems that can help manage disruptions within the rural energy supply,” said RCEA’s Executive Director Matthew Marshall in the release.

A "takeoff" ceremony for the grid's groundbreaking was held on Wednesday.

Read the Redwood Coast Energy Authority release below:

The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid’s (RCAM) community partners today announced construction activities on what will be the first 100 percent renewable, multi-customer microgrid in California.

The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid has been designed and developed by the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University. Located at Humboldt County’s regional airport, it will be owned by the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, and will run on power lines owned by PG&E. This interagency collaboration is the first of its kind in California.

RCAM will provide energy resilience for Humboldt County’s regional airport, including emergency services and medical life flights, as well as the neighboring U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. The Sector Humboldt Bay Air Station maintains search and rescue missions for 250 miles of remote, rugged coastline, and its team has saved 32 lives in the last year.

This innovative project is funded by a $5M grant from the California Energy Commission’s EPIC program — which invests in scientific and technological research to accelerate the transformation of the electricity sector to meet the state’s energy and climate goals — and a $6.6M loan from the USDA. The project’s design team has developed technology innovations and new partnership models to enable community microgrid opportunities across the state.

Resilient, renewable, and replicable

The microgrid’s solar arrays will generate enough electricity each year to power the equivalent of 500 households on the north coast. During power outages, emergencies, and shutoff events, RCAM will typically be able to island and run independently for at least two weeks. Under the worst solar conditions (e.g. an extended winter storm event), the microgrid can still provide up to 24 hours of backup power for the airport and Coast Guard.

RCAM will be the first microgrid to participate in the state’s wholesale electricity market — which not only helps make sure that solar energy will be deployed when it’s most useful, but also helps pay for the cost of the microgrid system itself. Over the last year, the Schatz Center worked closely with PG&E to write a technical guide for communities who want to build similar microgrid systems in California.

“We know how much our customers and communities need reliable energy, and microgrids play a key role in PG&E's ongoing efforts to harden our electrical system and enhance local grid resilience throughout Northern and Central California. The Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid is a unique, collaborative effort on which PG&E intends to model future multi-customer microgrids developed through our recently launched Community Microgrid Enablement Program. We look forward to partnering with our customers and community stakeholders to identify, design and build customized resilience solutions that address local electric reliability needs for the long term,” said Ron Richardson, Vice President, North Coast Region, PG&E.

Building on regional microgrid expertise

In 2017, the Schatz Center launched its first grid-connected microgrid — a campus-wide, low-carbon system for the Blue Lake Rancheria, developed in collaboration with multiple partners. In 2019, they added a second demonstration system at the Rancheria to explore the capacity of small buildings such as gas stations and convenience stores to support neighborhood resiliency via solar+storage.

The Schatz Center, the Blue Lake Rancheria, and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority are currently exploring how energy demands within an interconnected microgrid system can respond intelligently to the needs of the primary utility grid. “The Redwood Coast Energy Authority seeks to follow the airport project with a network of community microgrids and renewable backup power systems that can help manage disruptions within the rural energy supply,” said RCEA’s Executive Director Matthew Marshall.

The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid will be fully operational later this year.

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Friday, July 2, 2021

Breakthrough COVID is Rare in California

Posted By on Fri, Jul 2, 2021 at 11:07 AM

Medical assistant Letrice Smith fills syringes during a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic run by Ravenswood Family Health Network at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on April 10, 2021. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
  • Medical assistant Letrice Smith fills syringes during a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic run by Ravenswood Family Health Network at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on April 10, 2021.

About 7,550 out of more than 19.5 million Californians who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have contracted the disease, a minuscule percentage that provides strong evidence of the vaccines’ effectiveness, according to state data.

The breakthrough infections through June 23 amount to 0.039 percent of vaccinated Californians — or one case out of every 2,583 vaccinated people.

Most of the infections were minor, but 62 vaccinated Californians died from COVID-19, according to California Department of Public Health data.

“The way we should think about these cases is that they’re very rare,” said  George Rutherford, a University of California, San Francisco epidemiologist.

The risks of the disease far outweigh the chance of a breakthrough case: More COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the past four days than the total number of vaccinated people who died from it over the past six months.

On Wednesday, state health officials reported 2,013 new infections among all Californians, including 24 deaths. They did not respond to a request for comment.

Nationally, out of 154 million fully vaccinated Americans, 4,115 people have been hospitalized or died after contracting COVID-19. That’s a rate of 0.0027 percent. More than three-quarters were 65 or older. Federal officials do not track total breakthrough infections because many involve minor or no symptoms.

In California, health officials matched data from the state’s immunization registry to a registry of confirmed COVID-19 cases to identify breakthrough cases.

There are some caveats to the data. While California’s public health agency reported 584 people were hospitalized after a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, hospitalization status wasn’t available for 46 percent of the post-vaccination cases. State officials also noted that some of them may have been hospitalized for an unrelated condition and tested positive for COVID-19 after being admitted to the hospital.

The three vaccines authorized in the United States – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson – are considered highly effective in preventing severe disease and death. They also protect against the coronavirus variants now circulating, including the Delta variant, Rutherford said. Yet a small number of breakthrough infections are to be expected, the CDC says. The agency’s surveillance hasn’t turned up any unusual patterns.

Eugene Choi, a Los Angeles radiologist, contracted COVID-19 in early June, nearly six months after his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Choi detailed his experience on his Instagram account, where the CrossFit enthusiast has nearly 40,000 followers.

He told CalMatters that his symptoms included fever, night sweats, chills and muscle pains.

At first, “I did not think of COVID,” said Choi, who as a physician was vaccinated earlier than many Californians. “I thought … okay, it must be that other flus and colds are coming out of the woodwork.” But as his fever continued, he decided to get a COVID-19 test.

Then his wife, also vaccinated, and their two-year-old son became infected, he said. Their cases were more mild.

“I’ve seen firsthand the devastation COVID causes,” he said.

“My experience should give people reason to go get vaccinated,” he said, recalling how cases at the hospital where he works plunged as more Californians were immunized.

Choi wonders if the vaccine protected him from serious, lingering symptoms that many people have experienced. He said he was miserable for days, but never sick enough to need hospital care. He has since resumed his intense workouts.

“It certainly could have been worse,” he said. “I’m still amazed at what the virus can do.”

This article first appeared on CalMatters Network and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

HSU Expanding Curriculum with Polytechnic Push

Posted By on Tue, Jun 15, 2021 at 11:55 AM

SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
As a way of prioritizing Humboldt State University's push to become polytechnic, the university is expanding its curriculum to include more STEM-related degree programs as soon as fall of 2023.

“This is what a 21st-century education looks like: programs where students build the skills to have meaningful careers and a nuanced understanding of society’s complex issues so they can make the world a better place,” says Jenn Capps, HSU provost and vice president of academic affairs.

According to the release, HSU will formally submit proposals to California State University to add applied fire science and management, cannabis studies, data science, energy systems engineering, engineering and community practice, geospatial information science and technology, marine biology, mechanical engineering and software engineering for the 2023 fall semester. The programs, along with other applied and social sciences slated for 2026 and 2029, must be approved by the CSU's Chancellor's Office, the CSU Board of Trustees and receive accreditation from various organizations.

“These programs are a win for HSU and the greater north state,” says Mary Oling-Sisay, vice provost and dean of undergraduate and graduate studies. “They bring to life what we do and what we’re known for and will augment our current offerings in a very significant way.”

Read the full press release below.

HSU Continues Polytech Push with Plans for Several New Programs

Drawing on its strengths in STEM, environmental and social responsibility, and experiential learning, Humboldt State University has submitted documentation of its intent to launch several new and innovative undergraduate and graduate degree programs as soon as Fall 2022 and Fall 2023.

HSU will formally submit proposals for the following programs to the California State University for consideration: Applied Fire Science & Management, Cannabis Studies, Data Science, Energy Systems Engineering, Engineering & Community Practice, Geospatial Information Science & Technology, Marine Biology, Mechanical Engineering, and Software Engineering for Fall 2023. (See descriptions below.)

“This is what a 21st century education looks like: programs where students build the skills to have meaningful careers and a nuanced understanding of society’s complex issues so they can make the world a better place,” says Jenn Capps, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

The programs are among those prioritized through the collaborative polytechnic planning process on campus. The fast-track timeline is highly dependent on additional state funding that has been proposed by the Governor and is being considered by the Legislature.

These programs, in addition to those in applied and social sciences slated for 2026 and 2029, are pending the necessary approvals by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, CSU Board of Trustees, plus accreditation from various organizations.

The announcement comes as HSU explores becoming the third polytechnic university in the CSU and the only one in Northern California. The new programs align with the University’s vision of becoming a polytechnic that builds on a strong liberal arts foundation and long-standing commitment to sustainability and social justice; and infuses traditional ecological knowledge, renewable energy, and more.

A polytechnic status would have broad implications for the region and state. It would help revitalize the economy of the North Coast (where HSU is the largest employer), provide educational opportunities to students across the state, and help meet California’s workforce needs.

“These programs are a win for HSU and the greater north state,” says Mary Oling-Sisay, vice provost and dean of undergraduate and graduate studies. “They bring to life what we do and what we’re known for and will augment our current offerings in a very significant way.”

New HSU Degree Programs

Applied Fire Science & Management, Bachelor of Science, will develop the practical knowledge and skills to become fire science or management professionals. Created in collaboration with HSU’s respected Forestry & Wildland Resources and Native American Studies programs, the Applied Fire Science & Management major will also include a breadth of perspectives and knowledge systems (e.g., traditional ecological knowledge), with an emphasis on incorporating indigenous practices.

Cannabis Studies, Bachelor of Art, engages a curriculum that centers place with people, planet, and prosperity as related focal areas. These areas encompass environmental, life and physical sciences as well as geography; sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, politics, social work, Native American Studies, child development, kinesiology, and criminology and justice studies; and economics, business, and recreation management.

Data Science, Bachelor of Science, develops the skills to synthesize knowledge and apply contemporary statistics, data analysis, and computational science methods to solve social and environmental problems.

Energy Systems Engineering, Bachelor of Science, incorporates elements commonly included in Civil, Environmental, Mechanical, and Electrical engineering disciplines. It is designed to prepare students for careers in developing, designing, operating, and analyzing clean energy systems.

Geospatial Information Science & Technology, Bachelor of Science, prepares students for careers as Geographic Information System (GIS) analysts and specialists, remote sensing analysts, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and geographers.

Engineering & Community Practice, Master of Science, develops future engineering leaders who will sustain, restore, and protect our natural resources and the environment.

Marine Biology, Bachelor of Science, explores the diversity of marine life, its evolutionary history, the importance to our planet, and how it is impacted by human activities.

Mechanical Engineering, Bachelor of Science, explores a range of integrated engineering systems that include thermal and electromechanical elements.

Software Engineering, Bachelor of Science, applies engineering concepts to software development. It encompasses the development, operation, and maintenance of programs.
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Monday, June 7, 2021

HumCo Records 46th COVID Death, 29 New Cases Since Friday

Posted By on Mon, Jun 7, 2021 at 5:05 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed the county's 46th COVID-19-related death today and 29 new cases since Friday. The resident who died was in their 50s.

Public Health also reported that a positive COVID-19 case was removed from the local case count after it was determined to be from another jurisdiction and removed a previously reported hospitalization that was determined to be unrelated to the virus. 

Public Health is continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated, with clinics scheduled this week at Cuddeback Elementary in Carlotta on Tuesday, June 8, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Mattole Grange in Petrolia on Wednesday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at College of the Redwoods in Eureka on Thursday, June 10, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Although walk-ins are welcome at Public Health clinics, appointments are highly encouraged. To make an appointment go to www.MyTurn.ca.gov.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,382 cases, with 190 hospitalizations and 46 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

Today's numbers results came after the processing 392 samples.

The county dashboard lists 4,222 people as having "recovered" from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious and does not account for long-term health impacts, which local healthcare workers have told the Journal can be substantial, even in previously healthy patients.

The county’s test positivity rate has gone from 3.6 percent in November, to 7.3 percent in December and 9.9 percent in January, before dropping to 6.5 percent in February. In March, it dropped to 4.5 percent before inching back up to 5.9 percent in April. In May, it jumped to 8.3 percent.

Nationwide, more than 33 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 594,802 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 62,473 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the county's Joint Information Center is urging locals to get tested, calling it "one of the most helpful things county residents can do for the community at large," because it allows Public Health to catch cases early and limit spread. The state-run OptumServe testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka is open seven days a week and no-cost appointments can be made by clicking here or calling (888) 634-1123 and other newly opened screening site information can be found here

The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county. After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.

Continue reading »

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Blue-green Algae Makes an Early Appearance

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2021 at 4:32 PM

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Environmental Scientist Jacob Pounds samples the algae mats for analysis. - BLUE LAKE RANCHERIA
  • Blue Lake Rancheria
  • The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Environmental Scientist Jacob Pounds samples the algae mats for analysis.
Anyone visiting lakes or rivers in the region is being cautioned to look out for blue-green algae after the Blue Lake Rancheria confirmed levels of cyanobacteria at two sample sites on the Mad River this week.

The samples were collected at a popular swimming location known as Pump Station 4 and downstream of the city of Blue Lake's sewer ponds.

“Cyanobacteria can be present in any fresh water body, and looks like dark green, blue-green, black, orange or brown scum, foam or mats on the riverbed or floating on the water,” a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services states. “Cyanobacteria can produce harmful compounds, such as toxins and taste and odor compounds, that cause health risks to humans and animals.”

The positive tests point to an early arrival of the blue-green algae that usual appears between late July and early August, which is considered to be due to drought conditions.

"Low levels of toxins have been detected in algae mat samples from the Mad River, collected by the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe's Environmental Department at two locations where potential algae blooms had been observed," a release from the Rancheria states. "The presence of these toxins, even at low levels, triggers a 'CAUTION' posting by Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services for these locations in preparation for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.   
"A caution level posting means that toxins are present, but currently in low concentrations. Users of the Mad River are advised to avoid all visible algal blooms and scum, especially the mats at the margin of the river. It is advised to keep pets out of the water at these sites."

Sampling done by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board at Big Lagoon and Stone Lagoon found no signs of blue-green algae or toxins

Dogs and small children are the most likely to be affected by the algae, according to DHHS, which offered the following tips:

  • Keep children, pets and livestock from swimming in or drinking water containing algal scums or mats.
  • Adults should also avoid wading and swimming in water containing algal blooms. Try not to swallow or inhale water spray in an algal bloom area.
  • If no algal scums or mats are visible, you should still carefully watch young children and warn them not to swallow any water.
  • Fish should be consumed only after removing the guts and liver and rinsing fillets in tap water.
  • Never drink, cook with or wash dishes with water from rivers, streams or lakes.
  • Get medical attention immediately if you think that you, your pet or livestock might have been poisoned by cyanobacteria toxins. Be sure to tell the doctor or veterinarian about possible contact with cyanobacteria or algal blooms.
  • Join or support one of the many watershed and river organizations.

To learn more about cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms, visit the state of California’s website at www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/index.html.

To report a bloom, e-mail CyanoHAB.Reports@waterboards.ca.gov or call 844-729-6466 (toll free). Blooms can also be reported via the “bloomWatch” app, which is available for free download on iTunes or Google play.

For information on conditions occurring within Humboldt County, contact the Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or 800-963-9241. Photos of suspected blooms can also be emailed to envhealth@co.humboldt.ca.us.

Read the DHHS release below:

Public Health officials are reminding residents to keep an eye out for cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, while recreating at local rivers and lakes after samples with the toxin were collected at two locations on the Mad River.

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe confirmed Thursday that its Environmental Department collected the samples with cyanobacteria at a popular recreational location known as Pump Station 4 and just west of the Blue Lake Rancheria past the sewer ponds. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board sampled Big Lagoon and Stone Lagoon where no cyanobacteria or toxins were detected, and no other locations have been sampled to date.

Typically, cyanobacteria warnings come out between late July and early August, coinciding with low flows and sustained high temperatures in the inland areas which may contribute to cyanobacteria growth in the river. However, this year’s low level of rainfall and low river levels appears to be leading to an early season and increase in algal blooms in some locations.

Cyanobacteria can be present in any fresh water body, and looks like dark green, blue-green, black, orange or brown scum, foam or mats on the riverbed or floating on the water. Cyanobacteria can produce harmful compounds, such as toxins and taste and odor compounds, that cause health risks to humans and animals. Warm water and abundant nutrients can cause cyanobacteria to grow more rapidly than usual causing “blooms.” These blooms are termed “harmful algal blooms.”

In previous years, cyanobacteria was confirmed in some water bodies within Humboldt and surrounding counties, including the Mad River, South Fork Eel River, Van Duzen River, Trinity River, Big Lagoon, Stone Lagoon, Clear Lake and Lake Pillsbury. It is difficult to test and monitor the many lakes and miles of our local rivers. Most blooms in California contain harmless green algae, but it is important to stay safe and avoid contact.

While most cyanobacteria do not affect animals or people, some are capable of producing toxins that can be harmful to animals and humans. Dogs and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods of time.

Officials recommend the following guidelines for recreational users of freshwater areas:

Keep children, pets and livestock from swimming in or drinking water containing algal scums or mats.

Adults should also avoid wading and swimming in water containing algal blooms. Try not to swallow or inhale water spray in an algal bloom area.

If no algal scums or mats are visible, you should still carefully watch young children and warn them not to swallow any water.

Fish should be consumed only after removing the guts and liver and rinsing fillets in tap water.

Never drink, cook with or wash dishes with water from rivers, streams or lakes.

Get medical attention immediately if you think that you, your pet or livestock might have been poisoned by cyanobacteria toxins. Be sure to tell the doctor or veterinarian about possible contact with cyanobacteria or algal blooms.

Join or support one of the many watershed and river organizations.

To learn more about cyanobacteria and harmful algal blooms, visit the state of California’s website at www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/index.html.

To learn more about cyanobacteria and algae on the South Fork Eel River, visit www.eelriverrecovery.org/algae.

To report a bloom, e-mail CyanoHAB.Reports@waterboards.ca.gov or call 844-729-6466 (toll free). Blooms can also be reported via the “bloomWatch” app which is available for free download on iTunes or Google play.

For information on conditions occurring within Humboldt County, contact the Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or 800-963-9241. Photos of suspected blooms can also be emailed to envhealth@co.humboldt.ca.us.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Catching a Glimpse of the 'Super Flower Blood Moon' Lunar Eclipse

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2021 at 2:31 PM

The red hue of the blood moon . - NASA
  • NASA
  • The red hue of the blood moon .
While the forecast calls for patchy fog in many areas of Humboldt County, it might be worth an early morning wake up call Wednesday to try to catch a glimpse of the “Super Flower Blood Moon” during a full lunar eclipse.

Totality will occur between 4:11 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. on the West Coast.
nasa_lunar_eclipse.jpg
The ominous part comes from the reddish color the moon usually turns during the celestial event “because of sunlight filtered through Earth's atmosphere — a ring of light created by all the sunrises and sunsets happening around our planet at that time ,” according to NASA, while flower refers to the springtime arrival and the super is because it happens to be occurring when the moon is closest to the Earth, making it appear larger.

“Just how red it will look is hard to predict, but dust in the atmosphere can have an effect. (And keep in mind there have been a couple of prominent volcanic eruptions recently),” a NASA post states.
The Moon usually appears reddish in color during lunar eclipses because of sunlight filtered through Earth's atmosphere. - NASA'S SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATION STUDIO
  • NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
  • The Moon usually appears reddish in color during lunar eclipses because of sunlight filtered through Earth's atmosphere.
While the West Coast won’t have the best seats in the house, the view is expected to be one of the better ones on the globe. So, fingers crossed for some clear skies.


And, if all else fails, while the lunar eclipse is limited, the super moon part will still be a sight for about three days, according to NASA, appearing full in the sky tonight through Thursday.
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Monday, May 17, 2021

California Staying the Mask Course for Now

Posted By on Mon, May 17, 2021 at 12:36 PM

California's mask mandate for indoor settings and crowded outdoor events will remain in effect until at least June 15.

Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary, made the announcement this morning in regard to last week's interim recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that stated vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear masks indoors.

“On June 15, California plans to implement the CDC’s guidelines around masking to allow fully vaccinated Californians to go without a mask in most indoor settings," Ghaly said in a statement. "This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines, particularly in underserved communities."

The doctor also urged those who are eligible and have not yet done so to get vaccinated. Appointments are now open to those age 12 and older.

While many areas of the state are seeing marked improvement in COVID-19 numbers, Humboldt County is not, with 138 new cases reported last week. Hospitalizations and deaths have also increased in recent weeks, which local health officials attribute to the more contagious and virulent B.1.1.7 variant circulating in the community.


Read the county Joint Information Center release below:
California will keep its current indoor masking guidance without making any changes until June 15, the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) agency announced today. CHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced the continuation of the existing guidance in a virtual news conference this morning.

Dr. Ghaly said California reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance and decided to stay with June 15 as the date those who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask. June 15 marks the day Gov. Gavin Newsom said the Blueprint for a Safer Economy restrictions would be lifted.

View the Humboldt County Data Dashboard online at humboldtgov.org/dashboard, or go to humboldtgov.org/DashboardArchives to download today’s data. 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 707-441-5000.


Read the statement from CHHS Secretary Mark Ghaly below:
“California has made amazing progress in our fight against COVID-19. With more than 34 million vaccines administered, we now have among the lowest case and positivity rates in the nation. “On June 15, California plans to implement the CDC’s guidelines around masking to allow fully vaccinated Californians to go without a mask in most indoor settings. This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines, particularly in underserved communities. “We urge all Californians to get vaccinated to ensure that infection and hospitalization rates remain low across the state and that we can all return to the activities we love. “Until June 15, when California plans to fully reopen the economy, California will keep our existing guidance around masks in place. “As of May 3, 2021, face coverings are no longer required outdoors except at crowded events, and for unvaccinated people, when physical distancing cannot be maintained. “In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation and schools, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status.” For more information, visit covid19.ca.gov.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Native STEAM and TEK Curriculums Coming to Humboldt Classrooms

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2021 at 1:35 PM

Hoopa traditional woodworker Keoki Burbank is teaching students how to carve redwood sticks for cooking salmon. - BLUE LAKE RANCHERIA TRIBE
  • Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe
  • Hoopa traditional woodworker Keoki Burbank is teaching students how to carve redwood sticks for cooking salmon.
An educational program created by the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, Humboldt County Office of Education and Northern Humboldt Union High School District, called Pathmakers, is bringing Native American STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) and Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Humboldt County classrooms.

“There’s a rich Native American presence in Humboldt County, and it’s important that our schools represent that with the curriculum taught in classrooms. The Native Makers (that) Pathmakers is working with have advanced knowledge, skills, and stories about the tribes in the region, and add tremendous value to the education system,” said Alison Robbins, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s education programs executive director.

The release states that Native Makers like woodworkers, artists, net makers and cultural advisors will be teaching their traditional artforms during workshops offered at NHUHSD, HCOE and California State Parks.

Workshops include teaching students how to carve redwood sticks for cooking salmon by Hupa traditional woodworker Keoki Burbank, and teaching students how to carve acorn mush paddles by Karuk-Yurok artist Alme Allen. This
fall, Keoki and Alme will be holding a session together for students on how to
carve traditional redwood stools.
During Kindling the Flame, a cultural mentorship program for Native youth developed by California State Parks and Pathmakers, participants are learning about hazel rope making. The hazel rope will be used in the rehabilitation of Sumeg Village. - BLUE LAKE RANCHERIA TRIBE
  • Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe
  • During Kindling the Flame, a cultural mentorship program for Native youth developed by California State Parks and Pathmakers, participants are learning about hazel rope making. The hazel rope will be used in the rehabilitation of Sumeg Village.
"Making" elements, with Native STEAM and TEK workshops and curriculums, will also be offered to elementary and middle school students monthly at HCOE's Family Maker Nights.

“Native people have the most sophisticated and sustainable natural resource management system to date. We are part of a healing process between Native and non-Native people as well as between Earth and humans. Children are our inspiration and will be better citizens, leaders, and environmental advocates as a result of Native STEAM,” Pathmakers educator Merry Kate Lowry said.

After an America Civil Liberties Union of Northern California report detailed the systemic failures of Humboldt County school districts to help Native students succeed, Tribal organizations held the first
Native American Report Card virtual roundtable.

The central message was to b
ring more Native representation and history into school curriculums to empower local Native youth so that they can thrive academically and socially.

“Education is the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s top priority. We are working diligently with community partners to add more Native American curriculum in the classroom that will help strengthen student achievement, and lead youth to successful careers, and help our region thrive,” Jason Ramos, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s education board director, said.

Read the full press release below.

Education program partners with Native Makers to bring Native STEAM to schools to help fill Native American curriculum gap

“There’s a rich Native American presence in Humboldt County, and it’s important that our schools represent that with the curriculum taught in classrooms.”

To help students learn about the history, culture, and technologies of the Native American Tribes on the North Coast, an educational program called Pathmakers is partnering with Native Makers in the region who are teaching hands-on lesson plans in Humboldt Schools that focus on Native STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math), and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Native Makers such as woodworkers, artists, net makers, and cultural advisors are incorporated into the classroom curriculum, and educational posters showcasing their knowledge and skills will be placed in over 30 schools throughout Humboldt County.

“There’s a rich Native American presence in Humboldt County, and it’s important that our schools represent that with the curriculum taught in classrooms. The Native Makers Pathmakers is working with have advanced knowledge, skills, and stories about the tribes in the region, and add tremendous value to the education system,” Alison Robbins, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Education Programs Executive Director, said.

Native Makers are teaching their traditional art forms in a hybrid setting during workshops offered at Northern Humboldt Union High School District and through other local partnerships with California State Parks, and Humboldt County Office of Education. For example, Hoopa traditional woodworker Keoki Burbank is teaching students how to carve redwood sticks for cooking salmon, and Karuk-Yurok artist Alme Allen’s workshop focuses on how to carve acorn mush paddles. This Fall, Keoki and Alme will be holding a session together for students on how to carve traditional redwood stools.

“We descend from a people that were very skilled makers. From basket makers to carvers. All of these things are very rich traditional arts,” Karuk-Yurok artist Alme Allen, said.

For elementary and middle school-aged students, Pathmakers educator Merry Kate Lowry is working with Humboldt County Office of Education to incorporate ‘making’ elements matched with lesson plans based on Native STEAM and TEK from an Indigenous viewpoint. The curriculum is taught monthly during ‘Family Maker Nights’ which are held virtually during the pandemic. Lesson plans add a Native STEAM element for students, such as how math is applied to traditional basketry when making Native designs, or how fire is used as a technology to carve a Yurok redwood canoe. Other topics cover Indigenous water protectors in the region, the importance of salmon to North Coast tribal communities, and fighting fire with fire to help prevent wildfires.

“Native people have the most sophisticated and sustainable natural resource management system to date. We are part of a healing process between Native and non-Native people as well as between Earth and humans. Children are our inspiration and will be better citizens, leaders, and environmental advocates as a result of Native STEAM,” Merry Kate Lowry, Pathmakers educator, said.

During the month of May, students will have the opportunity to show their projects from skills learned during making sessions, such as artwork illustrating what it means to be a water protector; or design solutions to issues affecting the local environment. During the ‘Maker Share’, cultural advisors will review submitted work, which will then be featured on Humboldt County Office of Education’s Family Maker Night webpage for students, educators, and tribes to share.

“The Maker Movement is an opportunity for children to take an active part in education, to learn by trial and error, and develop a feeling of accomplishment through the process of creation,” Tanya Trump, HCOE Family Maker Night Coordinator, said.

Furthermore, Pathmakers is partnering with California State Parks to educate students about Native making by incorporating elements into the revitalization of Sumeg Village. Students are learning how to make hazel rope during ‘youth cultural revitalization sessions.’

Pathmakers, developed by Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, Humboldt County Office of Education, and Northern Humboldt Union High School District, is striving to bring more Native American curriculum into the classroom.

“Education is the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s top priority. We are working diligently with community partners to add more Native American curriculum in the classroom that will help strengthen student achievement, and lead youth to successful careers, and help our region thrive,” Jason Ramos, Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe’s Education Board Director, said.

The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe has established a Tribal Education Agency and is working towards creating systematic changes in Humboldt County Schools which would increase Native American student success from cradle to career.

More information about Native Makers workshops: https://bluelakerancheria-nsn.gov/pathmakers/nativemakerworkshops/

‘Maker Share’ event: https://hcoe.org/pathmakers/maker-share/


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Friday, May 7, 2021

Humboldt Sees 20 New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed Today

Posted By on Fri, May 7, 2021 at 4:45 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 20 new COVID-19 cases today, making 86 so far this week, and no new hospitalizations.

According to a state database, 11 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including three receiving intensive care.

Officials are pointing to the local presence of the B.1.1.7 variant for a recent and continuing surge in cases that saw a combined 287 cases confirmed in the past two weeks.

"Genomic sequencing of local COVID-19-positive samples has identified more than 40 total cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, now the most dominant strain of the virus in the state and nation," the county's press release states. "This variant is associated with a 50 percent increase in transmission and can lead to more severe illness as well as hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated individuals."

Public Health officials say the B.1.1.7 variant was present in a majority of sequenced samples, indicating that it is widespread locally.

Today's cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 352 samples, bringing the county's cumulative case total to 3,935, as health officials continue to urge Humboldt residents to get tested, with more screening sites opened throughout the region.

Public Health also reported this week that it has requested 6,600 vaccine doses next week through Blue Shield, the state's third-party administrator, though there is no guarantee it will receive all of them. Meanwhile, the county is holding second-dose mass vaccination clinics through Sunday, with nearly 5,000 residents slated to complete their two-dose series. Residents needing to schedule a first or second dose appointment are encouraged to sign up through www.vaccines.gov.

The state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers Tuesday and, despite escalating case rates, kept Humboldt County in the "moderate" or orange tier it entered last month, which allowed businesses such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to increase indoor operations while allowing others — including bowling alleys and family fun centers — to open.

The state data showed that Humboldt County has a test positive rate of 6.4 percent (compared to 3.1 percent last week) and a daily case rate of 12.8 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's 5.9. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1.3 percent test-positivity rate and 4.2 cases per 100,000.

On April 1, the state cleared outdoor sports events and live performances to reopen with fans and spectators, so long as facial coverings are worn at all times, venues follow tier-based capacity restrictions and provide reserved, assigned seating. (Read more here.)

Residents are also urged to continue to follow COVID safety guidelines as vaccinations roll out, which could take months.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 3,935 cases, with 165 hospitalizations after two were removed after being found to be due to reasons other than the virus although the patients were positive, and 39 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,757 people as having "recovered" from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious and does not account for long-term health impacts, which local healthcare workers have told the Journal can be substantial, even in previously healthy patients.

The county’s test positivity rate has gone from 3.6 percent in November, to 7.3 percent in December and 9.9 percent in January, before dropping to 6.5 percent in February. In March, it dropped to 4.5 percent. Through the first seven days of April, it sat at 1.9 percent. In subsequent weeks, it then jumped to more than 7 percent.

Nationwide, more than 32.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 578,945 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 61,027 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the county's Joint Information Center is urging locals to get tested, calling it "one of the most helpful things county residents can do for the community at large," because it allows Public Health to catch cases early and limit spread. The state-run OptumServe testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka is open seven days a week and no-cost appointments can be made by clicking here or calling (888) 634-1123 and other newly opened screening site information can be found here

The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county. After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.

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 county release below:

A total of 3,935 Humboldt County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after 20 news cases were reported today. 

Two previously reported hospitalizations have been removed from the county’s count. While both were positive for COVID-19, the reason they were admitted to the hospital was unrelated to the virus. 

Genomic sequencing of local COVID-19-positive samples has identified more than 40 total cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, now the most dominant strain of the virus in the state and nation. This variant is associated with a 50% increase in transmission and can lead to more severe illness as well as hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated individuals. 

Public Health officials say the B.1.1.7 variant was present in a majority of sequenced samples, indicating that it is widespread locally. The community will be notified if additional variants of concern are detected in the county. Health officials pointed out that all approved vaccines are highly effective against COVID-19 variants and encouraged county residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

More than 2,600 second doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be administered at Public Health’s mass-vaccination clinics scheduled today through Sunday. County residents in need of a first- or second-dose of vaccine who aren’t already scheduled for an appointment can sign up through a local pharmacy. Go to vaccines.gov to check availability at all participating local pharmacies.  

View the Humboldt County Data Dashboard online at humboldtgov.org/dashboard, or go to humboldtgov.org/DashboardArchives to download today’s data. 

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 707-441-5000.
 


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Health Officials Urge COVID-19 Testing Amid Case Surge as More Options Opened

Posted By on Fri, May 7, 2021 at 2:07 PM

Humboldt health officials are urging residents to get tested for COVID-19 amid a recent surge in cases that appears to be tied to the B.1.1.7 variant, which is 50 percent more contagious.

“Testing is a crucial component of containing positive cases before they have a chance to spread so we can move past this pandemic,” Humboldt County Public Health Director Michele Stephens said. “Here in Humboldt, we are fortunate to have lots of convenient and free testing options available to residents. Getting tested helps keep all of us safer, particularly those most vulnerable to severe disease.”  

There have been 267 cases confirmed in the past two weeks and 11 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, including three in the ICU, according to a state database.

Recent weeks also saw youngest COVID -19 hospitalization to date since the pandemic began, an individual between 10 and 19 years old.

Free testing is available at more than a dozen locations spread across Humboldt and Del Norte counties, with some also offering vaccinations on site. (Find the full list of locations and times below.)


Read the county's release below:
Humboldt County’s COVID-19 case rate is on an upward trend, and local health officials urge all community residents to get tested if they are experiencing symptoms and note that testing options have expanded to additional locations across the North Coast.

Humboldt County Public Health Director Michele Stephens said that even with progress in the county’s vaccination efforts, there are still a large number of residents who are not vaccinated and have no immunity at all against this virus.  “Testing is a crucial component of containing positive cases before they have a chance to spread so we can move past this pandemic,” Stephens said. “Here in Humboldt, we are fortunate to have lots of convenient and free testing options available to residents. Getting tested helps keep all of us safer, particularly those most vulnerable to severe disease.”  

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated should be tested if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, have traveled out of state or have participated in higher risk activities such as attending large gatherings.

Testing is now available in even more areas of the county. No-cost testing is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week through the OptumServe site at Redwood Acres located at 3750 Harris St. in Eureka. OptumServe’s mobile testing sites also offer testing in a different location of the county each weekday.

OptumServe testing locations:
  • Arcata – Mondays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Arcata Community Center, 321 M.L.K. Jr. Pkwy.)
  • Garberville – Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (SoHum Health Sprowl Creek Campus, 286 Sprowl Creek Road)
  • Fortuna – Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Dr.)
  • Hoopa – Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Tsewenaldin Inn, 12482 CA-96)
  • McKinleyville – Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Azalea Hall, 1620 Pickett Road).
To schedule, go to lhi.care/covidtesting, or call 888-634-1123.  After initially focusing on testing for facilities and a small number of tribal sites, the North Coast Testing Partnership (NCTP) is now expanding to include broad testing of tribal groups across Humboldt and Del Norte counties. This expansion is possible due to increased testing capacity at the NCTP laboratory and the completion of the online registration and reporting platform.  The partnership between the two counties and United Indian Health Services (UIHS) launched last year to provide a local COVID-19 testing option. While this is primarily intended for tribal populations, anyone can receive a test at one of the collection sites listed below.

Humboldt County NCTP testing locations:
  • Bear River Rancheria – Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (266 Keisner Road, Loleta)
  • Weitchpec Tribal Office – Every other Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., (Hwy 96, Weitchpec)
  • Trinidad – Every other Monday, 1 to 3 p.m., (foot of Bay St., Trinidad)
  • Blue Lake Rancheria – Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (RV parking lot behind 777 Casino Way #777, Blue Lake)
  • Orick – Every other Monday, 1 to 3 p.m., (120025 U. S. Hwy. 101, Orick)
  • Del Norte County NCTP testing locations:
  • Crescent Elk Middle School – Thursdays, 3:30 to 5 p.m. (994 G St., Crescent City)
  • Howonquet (Xaa-Wan'-K'wvt) Hall Community Center – Every other Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (101 Indian Ct., Smith River)
  • Margaret Keating Elementary School – Tuesdays, 3:30 to 5 p.m., (300 Minot Creek Road, Klamath)
  • Elk Valley Rancheria – Every other Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.,  (2332 Howland Hill Road, Crescent City)

  • Walk-ups are allowed at each testing site. To sign up for a test in advance and to learn more about NCTP, go to northcoasttestingpartnership.org.   Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines will also be offered by UIHS at some NCTP testing sites. These Mobile Vaccine clinics are walk-up and open to all residents age 18 and older.  Available sites and dates are listed below.  

    UIHS Mobile Vaccine locations and schedule:
  • Bear River Rancheria – Every other Tuesday beginning May 11, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (266 Keisner Road, Loleta)
  • Weitchpec Tribal Office – Every other Thursday beginning May 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., (Hwy 96, Weitchpec)
  • Trinidad – Every other Monday beginning May 17, 1 to 3 p.m., (foot of Bay St., Trinidad)
  • Blue Lake Rancheria – Every other Wednesday beginning May 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (RV parking lot behind 777 Casino Way #777, Blue Lake)
  • Orick – Every other Monday beginning May 10, 1 to 3 p.m., (120025 U. S. Hwy. 101, Orick)

  • 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 707-441-5000.
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