State Projections Show Humboldt Could See 40 COVID-19 Deaths by June, According to Butte Health Officer (VIDEO)


The Times-Standard reported last night on a “Covid-19 Check in” video that Butte County Public Health Officer Andy Miller posted yesterday morning explaining state modeling projections, which include that Humboldt County may see 40 deaths from the disease before June 1.

“Even though it’s disturbing to think about and talk about, it’s out there and should be available,” Miller says in the nearly six-minute video (embedded below), explaining that the modeling is based on a “Johns Hopkins model” and represents the state’s “best guess” of what may come. He adds that there are both more optimistic and pessimistic models out there. “In an effort to be totally transparent and knowing you might see it through another channel, we wanted to explain what the numbers mean, but we’re not endorsing it as truth or saying this is the way things will develop here.”

As Miller walks the audience through slides specific to Butte County, data for Humboldt County is clearly visible on the screen, indicating the median projections for hospitalizations is 178, with 57 ICU patients and 40 deaths by June 1. To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 52 COVID-19 cases with three hospitalizations and zero deaths, with the rate of positive tests having slowed considerably over the past week as the number of people tested has also declined.

Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich has repeatedly declined to publicly discuss local modeling projections, saying they fluctuate and are based on too many variables and unknowns, with the models are being repeatedly retooled as information changes.

“As soon as I have a working number that we have faith in … we will put that information out there,” she said a week ago.

Miller went a different route, saying the projections were public information and based on the model “endorsed” by the state of California, so “in the interest of transparency, we wanted you to know what the state modeling shows.”

As of yesterday, 1,614 Humboldt County residents had been tested for COVID-19 — roughly 1.2 percent of the population — with 3.2 percent of those tests coming back positive for a total of 52 cases. Nationally, about 18.7 percent of the 3.5 million people tested have come back positive, while the state has seen about 10.6 percent of the 258,8000 samples taken test positive. Nationwide, 661,712 cases had been reported as of yesterday with 33,049 deaths, including 27,528 cases and 985 fatalities confirmed in California.

Miller concludes by reminding Butte County residents that the projections are just that — projections, or informed guesses of what may come — and can be hotly debated. In the meantime, he urged residents to "stay in place, maintain your space, cover your face."

Read Ruth Schneider’s full piece in the Times-Standard here and see Miller’s video posted below.

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