Humboldt County Public Health confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases today, making 23 so far this week and 95 for the month, as the local spike in caseloads continues.
In a press release, the county reminded that travel in and out of Humboldt and multi-household social gatherings continue to be "significant drivers of new infections."
“Many of the places local residents are traveling to or having visitors from are experiencing much higher rates of COVID-19 infections, which makes interacting with someone who is ill with COVID more likely,” Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said in a press release.
California’s State Health Officer and Frankovich have both asked residents to stay close to home and limit travel as much as possible.
“We are so lucky to have some of the most beautiful areas in the world right here in our backyard,” Frankovich said in the release. “I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of that and postpone or cancel any non-essential, out-of-area trips. And please, ask your friends and family to wait for a safer time to visit you here in Humboldt. It’s the best way to protect your family and your community.”
The spike in confirmed cases comes as Humboldt County — like much of the state — has seen increasing challenges with testing. The OptumServe testing site set up at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds through a partnership with the state has been a growing source of frustration, as a huge increase in statewide demand and supply chain issues have caused regular delays of a week or more in getting test results. These delays pose problems for contact investigators and public health officials looking to contain clusters of the virus.
Frankovich offered the Board of Supervisors a bit of good news on this front, saying the Humboldt County Public Health Laboratory — which currently has a daily capacity of testing about 100 samples — was successful in getting a new piece of equipment that will allow the testing of up to 300 samples.
"That's hugely helpful," Frankovich said, explaining that while the turnaround time at corporate laboratories is currently a week or more, the public health lab can regularly turn around results in 24 to 72 hours, greatly enhancing the ability of contact investigations to limit exposures and isolate people who may have the virus before they can spread it.
The state's contract with OptumServe ends in August, and Frankovich said the county is actively looking at other possibilities, feeling a more rapid testing infrastructure is crucial to the county's ability to monitor and control the virus moving forward.
With today's cases, the county has confirmed 53 over the past 14 days, which equates to about 439 cases per 100,000 residents over that span, far eclipsing the 25 cases per 100,000 residents that is one component of which counties land on the state's watch list, which puts them under tighter restrictions. While that number is concerning, Frankovich told the board that the county is currently still well short of the positivity metric that would also have to be met to put the county on the list. While the state has set the threshold of 8 percent of a county's cases coming back positive, Humboldt County has seen a 3.8 parent positive test rate over the past two weeks.
Today's results come after 85 samples were tested. Of Humboldt's 228 confirmed cases to date, 44 remain active.
The county raised its overall COVID alert level — which runs on a scale of 1 to 4 — to 3 last week, after seeing 24 cases confirmed. Level 3 is described as: "High risk — many cases with conditions for community spread, with many undetected cases likely. Limit everyday activities to increase safety."
Humboldt County spike of 95 new cases confirmed this month comes as rates of infection and hospitalizations have surged elsewhere in the state and nation. Nationwide, 4.3 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed (59,862 of them today), including 148,866 fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control. California is also seeing a pike in cases, confirming 6,000 new ones yesterday for a total of 466,550 to date, including 8,518 deaths.
To date, the county has seen 228 local cases, including 17 hospitalizations and four fatalities, all of them of residents at Alder Bay Assisted Living.
Humboldt County Public Health is urging residents who aren't experiencing symptoms to get tested free of charge at the mobile testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds. (People experiencing symptoms should contact a healthcare provider, officials say.) Asymptomatic individuals can make an appointment to be tested by visiting https://Lhi.care/covidtesting
or calling (888) 634-1123. Tests will be administered free of charge, whether or not people have health insurance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at email@example.com 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 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's release below and view its case dashboard here
July 29, 2020 - Seven New Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Monday-Friday 8am to 7pm Opens in new window
Humboldt County’s COVID-19 case count stands at 228, after seven additional cases were reported today.
Travel in and out of the county and gatherings of friends and family continue to be significant drivers of new infections, according to Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich. “Many of the places local residents are traveling to or having visitors from are experiencing much higher rates of COVID-19 infections, which makes interacting with someone who is ill with COVID more likely,” she said.
California’s State Health Officer and Dr. Frankovich have both asked residents to stay close to home and limit travel as much as possible. “We are so lucky to have some of the most beautiful areas in the world right here in our backyard,” Frankovich said. “I’d encourage everyone to take advantage of that and postpone or cancel any non-essential, out-of-area trips. And please, ask your friends and family to wait for a safer time to visit you here in Humboldt. It’s the best way to protect your family and your community.”
Today’s alert level stands at a three. Visit humboldtgov.org/dashboard to view the county’s Alert Level Assessment tool.
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 email@example.com or calling 707-441-5000.
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/dashboard,
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19,
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert