Humboldt Passes Over 900 COVID Case Mark

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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 21 new COVID-19 cases today, putting the total at 919.

That's 69 so far this week, more than half of last week's record 122 cases, which overshadowed the previous week's record setting 71. All of October saw 59 cases confirmed compared to last month's 328.

The county's steady escalation of cases has Humboldt remaining in the state's purple "widespread" risk tier, along with most of California's 58 counties, bringing new layers of restrictions on local businesses.

While the state had a case rate of 30.2 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 6.4 percent as of today, Humboldt has a case rate of 10.7 per 100,000 and a 3.2 percent positivity rate, up from 7.7 per 100,000 and a 2.8 percent rate on Nov. 28.

Officials are still bracing for what is expected to be a torrent of positive tests in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday, pushing healthcare capacities on the local, state and national level to the brink.

Humboldt County's new purple status has forced restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship to cease all indoor operations, while also imposing the governor's nighttime shelter-in-place order, which requires residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. save for essential outings, such as going to work.

In response to the local surge, Public Health is changing its contact investigations process to meet the demands of rapidly increasing case counts, a news release states.

Residents of California counties in the state’s purple — or “widespread” COVID-19 risk tier — are currently under a limited stay-at-home order issued by Newsom which prohibits “non-essential work, movement and gatherings” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office stated in a Facebook post that it will continue to "prioritized education and voluntary compliance, rather than criminal enforcement of health orders."

The state of California largely depends on two metrics to determine where a county falls in its tier system: the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered that come back positive over a seven-day period and the average number of new positive cases confirmed per 100,000 in population daily over the course of a week. Both have spiked dramatically in recent weeks.

Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 824 samples.

To date, 919 Humboldt County residents have been confirmed to have the virus, with 48 having been hospitalized at some point in their care and nine confirmed COVID-related 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. Starting today, the testing will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week.

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 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

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