Public Health Announces Two New COVID-19 Cases, First Hospitalization

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Humboldt County Public Health announced two more positive COVID-19 tests this afternoon and that a different local resident has been hospitalized with the disease.

An investigation is underway into how the latest positive residents contracted the virus, and Public Health released no information regarding the condition of the person hospitalized.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County doubled yesterday when five additional positive tests were returned, bringing the total to 10, according to Public Health. Today's cases make 12 confirmed locally.

Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff analyzing a COVID-19 test. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services
  • Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff analyzing a COVID-19 test.
On March 24, the county announced that two members of a group that had recently returned from international travel had tested positive for the virus. All five of the cases announced yesterday are connected, with four having been members of the same traveling group and the fifth found in a sample taken from a "household contact" of one of the travelers.

According to Public Health, the county’s fifth positive case, which the department announced late on March 24, is unrelated to the traveling group.

“Public Health is ascertaining whether this patient may have had contact with any confirmed cases,” Public Health stated in a March 25 press release. “If no such contact is identified, this individual would represent the first instance of community transmission, meaning the source of infection is unknown.”

In the press release, Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich stressed the importance of the county’s shelter-in-place order, which took effect last week.

“I cannot emphasize enough that travel increases every individual's risk and the risk to the community as a whole,” she said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to cancel non-essential travel and to comply with shelter-in-place orders.”

The county recorded its first case in February in someone who had traveled to China and has since recovered. Then, on March 20, the county announced its second positive test, also in someone who had traveled to a "high-risk country."

Of the 12 cases confirmed in the county so far, nine have been related to international travel, with the likely source of the other three still unknown.

To date, the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory has processed 191 tests, while corporate laboratories have processed an additional 160 samples. Public Health reports it has supplies on hand locally to conduct another 500 tests.


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:


March 26, 2020 - First Local COVID-19 Hospitalization, Two Additional Cases Confirmed

Two additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed today, one by the Public Health Laboratory and the other by a commercial lab, bringing the number of known cases in Humboldt County to 12. Today also marked the first hospitalization of a COVID patient since the outbreak began locally.

Both of these cases are under investigation.

The mechanism of transmission of the fifth case, from March 24, has not yet been determined.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said, “It remains everyone’s responsibility to comply with the shelter-in-place order,” adding that all non-essential travel should be canceled.

The shelter-in-place order remains in effect through April 9. For current information about COVID-19, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by emailing covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

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