Humboldt County Public Health reported today that 29 new local COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday and today — the largest number of cases reported out in a single day since the pandemic began.
Today's cases make 48 reported so far this week and 82 this month, after the county recorded 59 in all of October. Forty-eight is already the most cases confirmed in Humboldt County in a single week since the week starting Aug. 3, in which the county confirmed 49 cases, the highest reported in a single week since the county's first confirmed case Feb. 20.
In a press release, Humboldt County Deputy Health Officer Josh Ennis said the increasing numbers are "concerning" and mean COVID-19 is circulating more broadly in the community.
“The safest course of action is to assume anyone you interact with could have the virus and follow prevention measures,” he said.
Recent weeks have seen the virus surge nationally and within California in what officials have described as a third wave of disease, with numbers jumping sharply in virtually all regions of the country and healthcare systems in some states becoming overwhelmed.
Locally, officials have increasingly sounded the alarm that October's lull in confirmed virus activity seems to have come to an abrupt end just as inclement weather and flue season commence.
"What we're looking at now is many smaller clusters of cases that are seemingly unrelated, and so the cases are scattered throughout," Ennis said during a media availability Tuesday. "This is very different from what we experienced a couple months ago, which was related to a couple big clusters we were chasing for some time. So this is very different this time around and I would like to put the call out to really make responsible decisions and question if now is the time to be travelling out of state, and bringing multiple, different households from different areas together."
Ennis warned a couple of weeks ago that he believed there was more virus circulating locally than the county was confirming based on hospitalization census numbers. According to a California Department of Public Health database, two Humboldt County patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and another two hospital patients are suspected to have the disease.
Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 804 samples with a positivity rate of 3.6 percent.
To date, 653 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 38 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and 10 confirmed COVID-related fatalities.
Meanwhile, Humboldt retains its “minimal” COVID risk status, according to the data released today under California’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy," which was updated Tuesday based on data for the week ending Oct. 31.
Humboldt currently has an adjusted case rate of 2.0 — which the state describes as a seven-day average of daily cases with a seven-day lag time of daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people — and a positivity rate of 1.0 percent. Overall, the state stands at a case rate of 8.4 per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 3.4 percent.
But, as local health officials have repeatedly warned in recent weeks, an uptick in cases could propel Humboldt in the “moderate” tier, which would bring more restrictions to local businesses. Even before today's report, it seemed Humboldt County was poised to be moved into a more restrictive tier.
For the week ending Nov. 7, the county averaged 3.6 new cases per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 1.8 percent — numbers that would place it solidly in the state's "moderate" risk tier if they persisted for two more weeks. Without factoring in tomorrow's numbers, for the week ending Nov. 14, the county is on track to record five new cases a day per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 3 percent, which could push the county into the state's "substantial" risk tier, forcing bars to close and restaurants, gyms and other businesses to significantly curtail indoor operations.
Nationwide, 10.3 million people have tested positive for the disease, including 143,408 yesterday, with 241,069 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. California, meanwhile, has seen 991,609 confirmed cases, including 18,108 fatalities.
The county is encouraging those who are asymptomatic to sign up for a free COVID test at the OptumServe site in Eureka. Appointments can be made by calling 888-634-1123 or visit lhi.care/covidtesting.
Right now, under the lower risk category, most indoor businesses — including bars — can reopen but the county can put further restrictions in place, according to the state. Read more about what it means here.
The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in "a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases," according to the county.
After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.
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. See the county's full press release copied below:
Nov. 12, 2020 - Twenty-Nine New Cases Reported Since Tuesday
707-441-5000 ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 653 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 29 cases were confirmed since Tuesday.
Humboldt County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Josh Ennis called the recent increase in the local case rate “concerning.”
“The case rate is one of the factors the state is looking at when it assigns tier status, so we must work to keep it low for our businesses and community alike,” he said. “An increasing case rate also means COVID-19 is circulating more broadly, ultimately impacting our health care system’s capacity to respond,” adding that hospitalizations can lag weeks behind increased case counts.
“The safest course of action is to assume anyone you interact with could have the virus and follow prevention measures,” Dr. Ennis said.
The Humboldt County Data Dashboard today is reporting one new hospitalization. One additional person who traveled here from out of the area has been hospitalized here. Because this person’s permanent residence is in another county, their status will not be counted in local cumulative data.
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,
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Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19, and
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert