Friday, December 3, 2021

Public Health Confirms 34 New COVID-19 Cases

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 3:42 PM

PUBLIC HEALTH
  • public health
Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 34 new COVID-19 cases today but reported no new hospitalizations.

The county also reported today that since Nov. 19, two deaths and 11 hospitalizations have been recorded locally, with both deaths and 10 of the hospitalized residents unvaccinated.

Public Health reported that the first known case of the new Omicron variant was confirmed in the United States on Wednesday in San Francisco. While there are not yet any known cases in Humboldt County, health officials are asking doctors to ask their patients about travel histories so they can identify and test anyone who may have been exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends international travelers get a COVID-19 test three to five days after travel regardless of vaccination status.

Residents who test positive for the virus with at-home tests and have traveled internationally in the previous 14 days are asked to call the county's Joint Information Center at 441-5000 to report results to Public Health.

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 211 samples with a test-positivity rate of 16.1 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent but rose to 14.2 percent in November — a concerning upward trend as Humboldt County enters the holiday season.

Last November, Humboldt County confirmed 329 new cases with a test-positivity rate of 3.6 percent, kicking off a holiday case surge that saw those numbers jump to 865 new cases with a 7.3 percent test-positivity rate in December, followed by 995 and 9.9 percent last December.

Public Health officials continue to stress that the best way for residents to protect themselves from COVID-19 and variants like Omicron is to get vaccinated, wear masks indoors and in crowded places, get tested immediately regardless of vaccination status if any cold- or flu-like symptoms develop and stay home when sick.

The CDC has designated Humboldt County as an area of high community transmission and recommends holding gatherings outdoors when possible, limiting the number of participants in indoor gatherings, adjusting the indoor layout to allow for physical distancing and enhancing the ventilation of indoor spaces.

Public Health Officer Ian Hoffman went on family leave on Nov. 15 and is expected to return in a part-time capacity for the next few weeks before returning to his full-time role. In the meantime, Kate Estlin, a local family physician with a practice in Fortuna who also works as a hospitalist at Redwood Memorial and St. Joseph hospitals, had stepped in to serve as health officer in Hoffman’s absence.

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Eureka's Lord of the Rings Ring Stolen in City Hall Burglary

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 11:56 AM

20211118_144010.jpg
A limited edition The Lord of the Rings ring that was gifted to the city of Eureka by its New Zealand sister city, Nelson, was one of the items stolen during a Nov. 29 burglary at city hall.

According to a city news release, the Eureka Police Department responded to the scene around 6:20 a.m. One man,  36-year-old Eureka resident Kenneth Amin Mohamed, was discovered in the building and arrested on suspicion of felony burglary.

The release states addition suspects have been questioned.

No breach of financial data, the city’s IT network, historical documents or personnel records occurred, according to the release, but several “small items” were found to be missing, although some were later located in other areas of city hall.

The city of Eureka is offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the recovering of the ring made by Jens Hansen, a New Zealand-based jewelry maker, who created a limited number of the rings for the Lord of the Rings trilogy filmed in the country.  Eureka’s ring is No. 2 of 100.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Terry Liles at 441-4010 or tliles@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

Read the city’s release below:

On November 29, 2021, around 6:20 a.m., officers with the Eureka Police Department responded to a report of a commercial burglary at City Hall. After a full review, it was determined that the suspects were not able to access financial data, the City’s IT network, historical documents or personnel records during their time in the building. Several small items were missing, however many of these items were recovered elsewhere in the building.

City staff have been working on compiling a list of missing items for the investigation and reviewing video camera footage. One of the suspects removed the replica “Lord of the Ring” ring that was gifted to the City by Nelson, New Zealand, the City’s sister city in 2004. The maker of the ring, Jens Hansen, a New Zealand based jewelry maker made a limited number of the rings for the Lord of the Ring trilogy and Eureka’s ring is number 2 of 100.

36-year-old Kenneth Amin Mohamed, of Eureka, was found inside of the facility and arrested on felony burglary charges. Eureka Police is actively investigating the burglary and has questioned additional suspects. A $1,000 reward is being offered to anyone who provides information leading to the recovery of “The Ring”. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Terry Liles at 441-4010 or tliles@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

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Coastal Flood Advisory: The Tides are High This Week

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2021 at 8:55 AM

Flooding on Jackson Ranch Road in Arcata during last year's King Tide event. - KIMBERLY WEAR
  • Kimberly Wear
  • Flooding on Jackson Ranch Road in Arcata during last year's King Tide event.
It’s that time of year again, when the alignment of the gravitational pull between the sun, moon, and Earth creates very high tides — also known as King Tides — bringing minor coastal flooding to low-lying areas.

Running through Dec. 6, tides upward of 8 feet are expected, including a high of 8.72 feet just before 11 a.m. on Saturday, according to the Eureka office of the National Weather Service. All of the peak tides will occur in the morning hours, with today’s high at 10:05 a.m.

A coastal flood advisory is in effect, with areas of concern including King Salmon and the Arcata bottoms. Some flood may occur an hour or two before the peak, according to the NWS.

“Flooding around Humboldt Bay typically starts around 8.8 feet at the North Spit Tide Gauge,” a post from NWS states. “Elevated surf may increase the impacts along the open coast. Coastal flood advisories will be issued if flooding is expected.

For more information on the tides visit: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/perigean-spring-tide.html.

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Public Health Confirms 22 New COVID-19 Cases, Two Hospitalizations

Posted By on Thu, Dec 2, 2021 at 3:45 PM

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 22 new COVID-19 cases and two new hospitalizations today.

Public Health reported that the first known case of the new Omicron variant was confirmed in the United States yesterday in San Francisco. While there are not yet any known cases in Humboldt County, health officials are asking doctors to ask their patients about travel histories so they can identify and test anyone who may have been exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends international travelers get a COVID-19 test three to five days after travel regardless of vaccination status.

Residents who test positive for the virus with at-home tests and have traveled internationally in the previous 14 days are asked to call the county's Joint Information Center at 441-5000 to report results to Public Health.

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 303 samples with a test-positivity rate of 7.3 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent but rose to 14.2 percent in November — a concerning upward trend as Humboldt County enters the holiday season.

Last November, Humboldt County confirmed 329 new cases with a test-positivity rate of 3.6 percent, kicking off a holiday case surge that saw those numbers jump to 865 new cases with a 7.3 percent test-positivity rate in December, followed by 995 and 9.9 percent last December.

Public Health officials continue to stress that the best way for residents to protect themselves from COVID-19 and variants like Omicron is to get vaccinated, wear masks indoors and in crowded places, get tested immediately regardless of vaccination status if any cold- or flu-like symptoms develop and stay home when sick.

The CDC has designated Humboldt County as an area of high community transmission and recommends holding gatherings outdoors when possible, limiting the number of participants in indoor gatherings, adjusting the indoor layout to allow for physical distancing and enhancing the ventilation of indoor spaces.

Public Health Officer Ian Hoffman went on family leave on Nov. 15 and is expected to return in a part-time capacity for the next few weeks before returning to his full-time role. In the meantime, Kate Estlin, a local family physician with a practice in Fortuna who also works as a hospitalist at Redwood Memorial and St. Joseph hospitals, had stepped in to serve as health officer in Hoffman’s absence.

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Ex-Rohnert Park Cop Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Extortion

Posted By on Thu, Dec 2, 2021 at 1:32 PM

Sgt. Brendan "Jacy" Tatum walks into the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco. - SUKEY LEWIS/KQED
  • Sukey Lewis/KQED
  • Sgt. Brendan "Jacy" Tatum walks into the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco.
The former head of the Rohnert Park Public Safety Department’s drug interdiction team pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges of conspiracy to commit extortion under "color of law," falsifying records in a federal investigation and tax evasion.

Ex-Sgt. Brendan “Jacy” Tatum and his former partner, Joseph Huffaker, were both indicted by a federal grand jury in September for their role in an unlawful marijuana and asset seizure scheme uncovered by KQED in 2018.

Tatum stood straight-backed in a dark navy suit in the wood-paneled federal courtroom in San Francisco before Judge Maxine Chesney. She methodically went over the three counts of the indictment and then asked Tatum how he pleaded.

"Guilty, your honor," he said.

Tatum declined to publicly comment at Wednesday’s hearing. But about an hour after the court hearing, his lawyer, Stuart Hanlon, emailed KQED about Tatum’s plea.

"My client plead guilty to all charges he is facing because he is in fact guilty," Hanlon said. "He realizes he has made huge mistakes and that there will be serious consequences for him. He is ready to face these consequences. The first step is to admit what he has done."

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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Public Health Confirms 23 New COVID-19 Cases, Two New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 3:57 PM

PUBLIC HEALTH
  • public health

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 23 new COVID-19 cases and two new hospitalizations today.

Meanwhile, Public Health reported that the first known case of the new Omicron variant was confirmed in the United States today in San Francisco. While there re not yet any known cases in Humboldt County, health officials are asking doctors to ask their patients about travel histories so they can identify and test anyone who may have been exposed.

Residents who test positive for the virus with at-home tests and have traveled internationally in the previous 14 days are asked to call the county's Joint Information Center at 441-5000 to report results to Public Health.

Public Health also reported today that approximately 68 percent of the county's population over the age of 5 is now fully vaccinated.

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 85 samples with a test-positivity rate of 27 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent but rose to 14.2 percent in November — a concerning upward trend as Humboldt County enters the holiday season with its pressures and pulls to travel and gather.

Last November, Humboldt County confirmed 329 new cases with a test-positivity rate of 3.6 percent, kicking off a holiday case surge that saw those numbers jump to 865 new cases with a 7.3 percent test-positivity rate in December, followed by 995 and 9.9 percent last December.

Public Health is currently reminding residents to practice social distancing, wash hands frequently and plan safer gatherings, especially with the return of colder weather, upcoming holidays and more people traveling and spending time indoors.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated Humboldt County as an area of high community transmission and recommends holding gatherings outdoors when possible, limiting the number of participants in indoor gatherings, adjusting the indoor layout to allow for physical distancing and enhancing the ventilation of indoor spaces.

Public Health Officer Ian Hoffman went on family leave on Nov. 15 and is expected to return in a part-time capacity for the next few weeks before returning to his full-time role. In the meantime, Kate Estlin, a local family physician with a practice in Fortuna who also works as a hospitalist at Redwood Memorial and St. Joseph hospitals, had stepped in to serve as health officer in Hoffman’s absence.

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First US Omicron Infection Found in San Francisco, Humboldt Residents who Traveled Internationally in Recent Weeks Advised to Get Tested

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 1:52 PM

California will increase COVID-19 testing of some airport travelers after a passenger flying to San Francisco International Airport from South Africa was identified as the first known case of the omicron variant in the United States.

The California Department of Public Health announced today that travelers arriving from countries identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as areas of concern will be subjected to increased testing. So far that includes Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The announcement of the first known US infection comes less than a week after the variant was identified in South Africa and just days after the World Health Organization deemed it a “variant of concern.” 

According to the California and San Francisco departments of public health, the patient returned from South Africa on Nov. 22 with mild symptoms despite being fully vaccinated. The test results were sequenced at UC San Francisco and confirmed to be the omicron variant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

All close contacts of the patient have tested negative. The individual, who did not need hospitalization, is between the ages of 18 and 49.

State officials have been bracing for the discovery.

 “We must remain vigilant against this variant, but it is not a cause for panic,” the state health department said in a statement. “We recognize that everyone is exhausted, and the news of a new variant can be overwhelming. It is important that we collectively focus on the things we know prevent the spread of COVID-19, and its variants. Individuals should (1) get vaccinated and boosted; (2) wear your mask in indoor settings; (3) get tested if you have symptoms; and (4) stay home if you are sick.”

Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said another local COVID surge is likely as holiday season moves into full swing, and the announcement of the first U.S. Omicron variant cases being confirmed in California this week throwing an unknown calculation into the mix.

What that’s going to look like, is still unclear, he says, with “the jury still out” on possible impacts from Omicron.

At the end of the day, Hoffman said, the best tools for keeping cases — and the potential for hospitalization and death from the virus — down and moving out of the pandemic are the same as they’ve ever been: masking, testing, limiting large gatherings and, most importantly, vaccinations and boosters.

And, he said, the county has a leg up since an indoor mask mandate is already in place here. There are no discussions about further restrictions or lockdowns in response to the variant’s arrival, Hoffman noted.

Anyone who has traveled in the last two weeks should get tested, he said, and information sent out to the Humboldt County medical community in the last 24 hours includes advising further screening about where people have been as well as having PCR tests done on anyone who has been out of the county.

He said Public Health has requested that travelers’ tests be sent to the county’s lab to expedite sequencing to check for which variant was responsible for the positive result but does not think Omicron is currently circulating in the area.

Hoffman also emphasized again that the vaccines and boosters are “highly effect” and “very safe.”

“They will be the thing that will end this (pandemic) for all of us,” Hoffman said.

This article was originally published by CalMatters. The North Coast Journal contributed to this report.

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Assembly Bill 1311 Brings New Hope to CRV Recycling for Rural Areas

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2021 at 6:19 AM

Hambro Recycling in Crescent City. - COURTESY OF RANDY SCOTT
  • Courtesy of Randy Scott
  • Hambro Recycling in Crescent City.
California rural counties will have new tools to make California Redemption Value (CRV) recycling easier now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed North Coast Assemblymember Jim Wood’s CRV bill.

AB1311 makes changes to the state's recycling law to better meet the CRV recycling demands of California’s rural counties by allowing CRV redemption centers to operate by appointments, when necessary, and introduce bag-drop off CRV recycling as well as allowing those centers to operate for less than 30 hours per week, options previously not allowed under California's Bottle Bill.

The bill comes as Humboldt County has spent over a year without a certified CRV redemption center after the Humboldt Waste Management Authority shuttered its CRV services following an overwhelming demand that caused traffic hazards on Broadway in September of 2020.

HWMA went to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (Cal Recycle) and asked to be allowed to set up appointments to meet the demand but Cal Recycle denied the request because the department only enforces state law and can’t make any exceptions. The state law is extremely strict and, at the time, only allowed for walk-in CRV drop-offs.

When the county lost its last CRV redemption center, the responsibility fell to grocers to collect, store, transport and redeem the 5 to 10 cent deposits paid by customers at the time of purchase, regardless of the original buying location.

“The bottle bill is really prescriptive and (doesn’t allow for) a whole lot of flexibility, and Humboldt County is like the cradle of the recycling movement in California," Wood told the Journal. "The Arcata Recycling Center started there, my predecessor was a part of the effort, they go way way back, and then, suddenly, we found ourselves in this situation where we don’t have a single recycling center that's available to take redemptions back. It's been a gradual erosion of the financial viability of recycling in California.

 “The Bottle Bill is complicated, there are big dollars at stake for some people and for (Humboldt) retailers and folks that are trying to do the right thing to get that redemption back that they paid, it’s really frustrating that there aren’t any facilities to accept it,” he says.

Under the Bottle Bill, if grocers and retailers don’t or can’t collect CRV containers they must pay a fee of $100 per day, adding up to $3,000 per month and $36,000 a year. For small business retailers, $36,000 a year is a large sum. So, despite being listed under Cal Recycle’s in-store redemption list, some retailers chose not to redeem recycling while others limited the days, times and the number of containers they could redeem — all going against the state law which requires stores not limit the number of containers nor the times that CRV redemption services are open.


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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Another COVID-19 Death, 21 New Cases

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 3:26 PM

Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process.

Humboldt County Public Health announced this afternoon that another local resident has died of COVID-19, while also confirming 21 new cases of the virus and one new hospitalization.

The resident who died was reportedly in their 50s, while the new hospitalizations were of residents in their 40s and 80s, according to Public Health.

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 141 samples with a test-positivity rate of 14.9 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent but rose to 14.2 percent in November — a concerning upward trend as Humboldt County enters the holiday season with its pressures and pulls to travel and gather.

Last November, Humboldt County confirmed 329 new cases with a test-positivity rate of 3.6 percent, kicking off a holiday case surge that saw those numbers jump to 865 new cases with a 7.3 percent test-positivity rate in December, followed by 995 and 9.9 percent last December.

Public Health is currently reminding residents to practice social distancing, wash hands frequently and plan safer gatherings, especially with the return of colder weather, upcoming holidays and more people traveling and spending time indoors.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated Humboldt County as an area of high community transmission and recommends holding gatherings outdoors when possible, limiting the number of participants in indoor gatherings, adjusting the indoor layout to allow for physical distancing and enhancing the ventilation of indoor spaces.

Public Health Officer Ian Hoffman went on family leave on Nov. 15 and is expected to return in a part-time capacity for the next few weeks before returning to his full-time role. In the meantime, Kate Estlin, a local family physician with a practice in Fortuna who also works as a hospitalist at Redwood Memorial and St. Joseph hospitals, had stepped in to serve as health officer in Hoffman’s absence.

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Eureka Market Employee Shot During Armed Robbery

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 11:11 AM

Surveillance photo of the armed suspect. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Surveillance photo of the armed suspect.
Last night, an employee at Harris and K Market in Eureka was shot in the arm during an armed robbery.

According to the Eureka Police Department's preliminary investigation, the suspect, described as a man with a heavy build, entered the store armed with a firearm, confronted the employee and demanded money from the register. When the suspect was reaching over the counter to collect the money, the firearm discharged and hit the employee.

EPD, Humboldt Bay Fire and City Ambulance responded and the employee was taken to the hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening injury, an EPD news release states.

After the shooting, the suspect fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect was wearing black shoes, blue jeans, a black zip-up hoodie with a “Humboldt” logo, black gloves, a red bandanna covering his face, sunglasses and a hat with “Cali” printed on the front. The suspect was last seen running south on K Street in possession of cash and a firearm.

EPD is asking anyone with information to contact Detective Sgt. Terry Liles at tliles@ci.eureka.ca.gov or 441-4010. The suspect is considered to be armed and dangerous and should not be approached, the EPD release states.

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