County Sees Raised Health Care Capacity Alert Due to COVID Hospitalizations

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Humboldt County Public Health reported one new confirmed COVID-19 cases today, bringing the counties total to 490.

However, the county’s Health Care System Capacity alert level, described as “one of three categories that indicate the county’s capacity to respond to and manage an increase in COVID-19 cases,” was downgraded to yellow due to an increase in recent COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

According to the county, 30 residents have been hospitalized to date, with seven of those this month alone, including five in the last week. Of those, four are being treated locally. Three of the individuals hospitalized have been under the age of 60.

“Health Care System Capacity describes trends in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, infections in health care workers and the availability of critical medical resources,” County Health Office Teresa Frankovich said in a release. “While our local health care system currently has good capacity to respond, it is important for us to remember that even when our overall case rates are lower than those in many areas of the state, we can still see an increase in hospitalizations. The move from green to yellow in our alert system signals the importance of the health care system in our COVID-19 response efforts.”

The county has just revised its case data dashboard to provide a bit more information about the breakdown of local cases by age. Most notably, 44 percent of local cases have been diagnosed in people under the age of 30, with 8 percent of the county’s caseload confirmed in children under the age of 10. The largest age demographic represented in the county’s caseload to date is the 20-to-29 age group, which accounts for 23.5 percent of local cases.

Humboldt County remains in the “moderate” category under the state's new four-tiered system, with a test positivity rate of 2.5 percent and 4.3 cases per 100,000 individuals, according to numbers released this week. The statewide level is 6.4 cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 3.6 percent.

The state's "substantial" risk tier — which includes counties averaging between 4 and seven new cases a day per 100,000 residents or test positivity rates of 5 to 8 percent — brings tighter restrictions, including further limiting indoor restaurant and gym capacities and closing some "non-essential indoor business operations," like office. If the county were to move into the "substantial risk" tier, it would then need to record numbers in the "moderate" tier for 21 consecutive days before the state would loosen the added restrictions.

Today's results include the processing of 148 samples.


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 here.

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