Public Health Confirms Five New COVID-19 Cases; Officials Warn Against Social Gatherings

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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed five new COVID-19 cases today.

The announcement comes on the heels of one new hospitalization and new 20 cases announced yesterday, which made 155 cases confirmed in August after 100 in July.

Humboldt County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich also issued a revised facial coverings order today to align local policy with state guidance. She noted in a press release that residents may not notice much of a change since California counties have been required to follow the state’s requirements since they were issued in June.

“In April, I had issued a facial covering order here in Humboldt, which was followed by the state’s public health officer order in June. This new local revision references the state’s, so it’s easier for members of our community to navigate prevention measures,” Frankovich said in the release.

The state order describes the settings in which facial coverings are required for individuals over the age of 2 and when exemptions should be made, according to the release. Most importantly, children under 2 years of age must not use facial coverings.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced sweeping revisions Friday to the state's program governing what businesses, services and organizations can open throughout the state and how they must modify operations. While the new system imposes added restrictions on some sectors and loosens them on others, County Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said she thinks it’s a net positive locally.

While the governor’s previous “watch list” system was mostly an all or nothing endeavor — prohibiting certain activities and services and allowing others — Frankovich told the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors the new framework is a bit more nuanced.

“The idea is really to be able to expand or contract operations for most businesses, rather than simply opening or closing,” she said.

The system uses two metrics — average daily new cases per 100,000 residents and test positivity rates, both over a seven-day period — to place counties in one of four risk tiers, which range from “widespread” (purple on the color wheel) to “minimal” (yellow). Humboldt is currently in the “moderate” category, with 3.6 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 1.7 percent, putting it between the “substantial” and “minimal” risk tiers. To be bumped up to the “substantial” tier — which brings tighter restrictions — Humboldt would have to see an average of between four and seven new cases a day or a test positivity rate of 5 to 8 percent. (Eclipsing either threshold will move a county to the more restrictive tier.)

To move down to the “minimal” tier, Humboldt would have to see daily case averages fall to below one with a less than 2 percent positivity rate for a period of 21 days.

The tiered restrictions vary by sector. For example, restaurants can open for indoor dining at 50 percent capacity in the “moderate” tier but would have to cut back to 25 percent capacity if their county moves to “substantial.” Bars are allowed to open for outdoor operations under “moderate” but would have to close entirely under “substantial.” Gyms and indoor pools can open at 25 percent capacity in the “moderate” tier but would have to cut back to 10 percent and close pools in the “substantial” tier, or could bump to 50 percent capacity and open saunas, spas and steam rooms in the “minimal” tier.

All things considered, Frankovich said Humboldt County should be grateful it didn’t land in the “substantial” tier, given that some recent weeks of local case numbers would have qualified but not the weeks the state used to calculate initial ratings. That said, she warned Humboldt County could quickly land there if it were to see an average of about eight cases a day for a couple of weeks, adding that there’s no question virus spread is trending upward locally and noting that while it took Humboldt 157 days to log its first 194 cases, the next 194 were confirmed in just 44.

“What I want to point out is that case rate is the thing that we really need to be watching,” she said.

Frankovich also cautioned again that folks gathering with people outside their household units remains the primary driver of cases locally, noting that multiple recent cases spawned from a social gathering of about 40 people.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said the Joint Information Center regularly receives complaints of larger social gatherings and works to head them off before they occur, when it can. Both he and Frankovich warned that the risks of such gatherings are great because they could see a large number of people exposed at once, with each of them going back to unwittingly infect people within their households.

“It takes one or two of these gatherings and, all of a sudden, we’re blowing up, we’re on a different tier and we’re closing down some businesses and our freedoms are being taken away because a few groups decided to get together,” Honsal said. “The problem is a relatively small number of people with gatherings can really change the whole dynamic for the county.”

Today's cases come after Public Health tested 171 samples with a positivity rate of about 3 percent.

To date, Humboldt county has seen 393 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 22 hospitalizations and four deaths. Nationally, 6 million cases have been confirmed with 183,050 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. California, meanwhile, has recorded 707,797 confirmed cases with 13,018 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

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 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 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.

Sept. 1, 2020 - Five Cases Reported Today; Facial Coverings Order Revised to Align with State Order
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
The total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 now stands at 393, after five additional cases were reported today.

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich today issued a revised Facial Coverings Order to align local policy with state guidance. She noted that residents may not notice much of a change since California counties have been required to follow the state’s requirements since they were issued in June.

“In April, I had issued a facial covering order here in Humboldt, which was followed by the state’s Public Health Officer Order in June. This new local revision references the state’s, so it’s easier for members of our community to navigate prevention measures,” Dr. Frankovich said. The state order describes the settings in which facial coverings are required for individuals over the age of 2 and when exemptions should be made. Most importantly, children under 2 years of age must not use facial coverings.

The revised order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3. Read the revised order here: humboldtgov.org/DocumentCenter/View/88931.

Today’s alert level stands at two or level yellow. 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 covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.


Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/dashboard,
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19,
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19,
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert

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