Public Health: Two More COVID-19 Cases Confirmed Today After 126 Tests

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Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff Paula Moon (left) and Alyssa McCloud catalog incoming tests. - PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Public Health
  • Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory staff Paula Moon (left) and Alyssa McCloud catalog incoming tests.

Humboldt County's spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases continued today, with Public Health announcing two more positive tests.

The county has confirmed 33 new cases since May 8, bringing the countywide total to 88.

Humboldt County saw its first confirmed COVID-19 fatality Sunday, when a 97-year-old woman living at Alder Bay Assisted Living died of the disease at a local hospital. That was followed by the death of another Alder Bay resident at St. Joseph Hospital yesterday.

Today's two positive cases are not believed to be related to Alder Bay, which has seen seven residents and five staff members test positive for the virus since May 11.

Eleven of Humboldt County's 88 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized at some point in their care. Twenty-three of the county's cases remain active, and 14  are believed to have stemmed from community transmission, meaning the patient had not had confirmed contact with a known positive case or traveled out of the area and is believed to have contracted the virus from an unknown source in the local community. Four of the cases remain under investigation.

The recent case spike comes after the county saw just two new cases confirmed over a 17-day span that stretched from mid April to early this month. Then came two positive cases May 9, followed by daily totals of four, three, three, one, four, five, four, five and two, for a total of 33 in 12 days.

Thursday, the county reported that the state has accepted the its certification that it is ready to move forward with loosening shelter in place restrictions at its own pace. And between Thursday and Friday, the county approved dozens of health and safety plans to allow retail businesses to re-open to walk-in customers.

Public Health announced it will continue to monitor everyone at Alder Bay for at least 14 days and conduct follow-up testing. In other areas of the country, assisted living and skilled nursing homes have seen devastating outbreaks of the disease, which disproportionately affects those over the age of 65 and/or with compromised immune systems.

Today's results come after Public Health processed another 50 samples and corporate labs reported the results of another 76, for a total of 126. To date, the county has reported that 4,771 local residents have been tested for the virus, about 3.5 percent of the population, with one in 54.21 samples coming back positive for the virus.

Nationally, as of yesterday, about 3.9 percent of the population has been tested, with one in eight samples coming back positive for a total of 1.53 million confirmed cases, including 91,664 deaths. In California as of yesterday, about 3.5 percent of the population has been tested with roughly one in 16.4 samples coming back positive for a total of 84,057 confirmed cases, including 3,436 fatalities.

The county announced earlier this month that a new testing site has begun operations in Eureka with a soft launch currently testing local healthcare workers. The facility, which can test about 132 people over 12 hours per day with the capacity to expand, is hoped to be open to the general public in the coming weeks. Samples taken at the site will be sent to out-of-area corporate laboratories to be processed.

As Humboldt began preparation for a gradual easing of some statewide shelter-in-place restrictions last Friday, Health Officer Frankovich and Sheriff William Honsal also said that the mobile lab is now testing people from the public without a referral from a healthcare provider. People with mild symptoms — or even no symptoms — can schedule an appointment by visiting https://Lhi.care/covidtesting or calling (888) 634-1123. Honsal said that whether or not they have health insurance, people will not be charged for the test. People with severe symptoms, they said, should contact their healthcare providers so their sample can be tested at the Public Health Laboratory, which can process samples faster than the corporate labs.

The county has reported 88 COVID-19 cases to date, with many — 28 — coming in a six-day period from March 30 to April 6.

Frankovich and Honsal have repeatedly stressed the importance of local residents respecting the letter and spirit of the county's shelter-in-place order, staying in their homes and limiting essential outings, practicing social distancing measures and wearing facial coverings when they do have to leave home. The hope, Frankovich explains, is that these measures will slow Humboldt County's infection rate to the point that the number of active cases at any time — and the number of critically ill patients — does not overrun the local healthcare system, which has very limited capacity.


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. 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 and testing report copied below:

May 20, 2020 - Two New Cases Confirmed Today
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 7pm ; Saturday 10am to 5pm Opens in new window
Two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed today, bringing to 88 the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Both of the new cases are under investigation and, at this time, are not believed to be related to the Alder Bay Assisted Living facility.

For the most recent COVID-19 information, 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.

May 20, 2020
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 7pm ; Saturday 10am to 5pm
Total new positive cases confirmed on May 20: 2

Daily COVID-19 case report for May 20

Total number of confirmed cases: 88
Total number of recovered cases: 65
Total number of hospitalizations: 11
Total number of deaths: 2
Transmission information for all known cases

Contact to a Known Case: 46
Travel-Acquired: 24
Community Transmission: 14
Under Investigation: 4
Total number of people tested by Public Health Laboratory: 2,547

Total number of people tested by all other sources: 2,224
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California Department of Public Health and commercial labs)

The Public Health Laboratory currently has a capacity of approximately 1,950 tests and can process about 65 samples a day with an approximate turnaround time of 48 to 72 hours.

For the most recent information about COVID-19, visit CDC.gov or CDPH.ca.gov. For local information, visit humboldtgov.org, call 707-441-5000 or email covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us.

What do these numbers mean?

Total new confirmed cases—the number of test-confirmed positive cases since the previous report.
Total number of confirmed cases—the number of test-confirmed positive cases since the pandemic began, including people who have recovered from the illness.
Total number of hospitalizations—total number of people with confirmed cases of COVID who have been hospitalized since the pandemic began, including people who have been released.
Total number recovered—the number of confirmed cases who are no longer in isolation, meaning they have met Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) criteria for release, including absence of fever for at least three days without use of fever-reducing medicine, improvement in symptoms and have had seven days or more since onset of symptoms.
Total number of people tested by Public Health Laboratory—number of people whose sample was tested by the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory.
Total number of people tested by all other sources—total number of tests performed by the CDC, the CDPH, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. Non-local labs have a slower turnaround time than our local lab.
Public Health Laboratory test capacity—the approximate number of testing kits that are complete and ready to be administered. This number is decreased by testing and increased as additional supplies are acquired.
Public Health Laboratory turnaround time—the estimated amount of time it takes per testing run. Each run can include up to 20 samples; multiple batches can be run each day.
Transmission data
travel-acquired—nationally, internationally or regionally
contact to known case—an individual found to have been in direct contact with someone who tested positive for the virus
community transmission—spread without travel or known contact to any other confirmed case
under investigation—confirmed case whose means of transmission has not yet been determined.
Regional data—the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 per region. The three reporting regions of Humboldt County are:
Northern Humboldt— extends south from Humboldt’s County’s border with Del Norte County (North) to Highway 299 (South).
Greater Humboldt Bay Area—extends south from Highway 299 (North) to Highway 36 (South).
Southern Humboldt—extends south from Highway 36 (North) to Humboldt County’s southern border with Mendocino County.
Gender—the gender of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Total cases, shown by percentage.
Mean age—the average age of all the individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Average age is calculated by adding all the ages of individuals together and dividing by the number of cases.
Test rates and confirmed case rates relative to the State of California—the number of tests performed per 100,000 people. Numbers of tests performed are provided by the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, CDPH and the CDC. Population estimates are based on data from the United States Census Bureau. Rates per 100,000 are calculated by dividing the total number of tests performed by the population of the jurisdiction and multiplying the result by 100,000.
Confirmed case rates relative to the State of California—the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people. Test results are provided by the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics, CDPH and the CDC. Population estimates are based on data from the United States Census Bureau. Rates per 100,000 are calculated by dividing the total number of confirmed cases by the population of the jurisdiction and multiplying the result by 100,000.
Notes on patient and demographic data

To protect the identity of people with COVID-19, their specific location of residence will not be disclosed. The Humboldt County Public Health Branch is legally responsible for protecting personal health information, including residence address, specific age, recent travel, the identities and locations of any contacts, the provider of medical treatment, the course of illness and any other information that might identify an individual with or exposed to the virus unless it serves the interests of public health to do so.

Although we understand it is of interest to residents, providing location and other demographic information to the general public does nothing to slow the spread of illness. Humboldt County is experiencing untraceable person-to-person transmission, also known as “community spread,” and there is no place that can be considered safe. To reduce your chances of acquiring or spreading COVID-19, avoid travel, wash your hands, keep yourself and your environment clean, follow the shelter-in-place order, and do not leave home for any reason unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.

The following case information is provided daily Monday through Saturday:

New positive cases
Total positive cases to date
Total hospitalizations to date
Total Public Health Lab tests to date
Total commercial lab tests to date
Public Health Lab test capacity, total and daily, and estimated turnaround time
Transmission data
travel-acquired
contact to known case
community transmission
under investigation
Additional information is updated each Friday:

Regional data
Gender
Mean age
Test rates and positive test rates relative to the State of California.

Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19,
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19,
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert

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