Nearly 100 New COVID Cases Reported

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Public Health reports that 93 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed since Friday. Two more hospitalizations were also reported.

Last week saw a record 270 cases and the region crossing the 2,000 threshold.  While it took Humboldt County 290 days to confirm its first 1,000 COVID-19 cases, the next 1,000 came in just 35 amid a local, statewide and national surge officials say has been fueled by pandemic fatigue, holiday gatherings and the onset of cold, winter weather.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,124 cases, with 75 hospitalizations and 23 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Twelve Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including two under intensive care.

The county's joint information center reports that confirmed cases have increased by 9.6 percent over the last week,  with the case doubling time at 41.5 days.

Last week, the state issued a health order that halted all elected surgeries to make more room for intensive care unit capacity in regions where hospital ICU capacity is at 0 percent. Those hospitals also now have the ability to transfer patients in and out of other regions, including the Northern California region.

The order doesn't currently affect Humboldt County.

The state also issued an updated travel advisory strongly discouraging all non-essential travel and urging anyone returning from non essential, out-of-state travel needs to self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days upon their return.

As one of only four counties not currently in the purple or "widespread" tier, and since the region is not yet under the state's stay home order like more than 98 percent of California's residents, some Humboldt businesses and organizations have been allowed to resume limited indoor operations, including restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship.

But that will change when the county moves back up to the more restrictive ranking, which is expected to happen Tuesday. So far this month, 287 cases have been recorded.

The state’s stay home order, which divides California into five regions, is triggered throughout the region when its commutative available hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15 percent, as has already occurred in the rest of the state.

As of today, the state reported the Northern California region had a combined 35percent capacity. If implemented locally, the stay home order will temporarily close bars, wineries, personal service salons, hair salons and barbershops, while retail stores will be limited to 20 percent capacity and restaurants will be limited to take-out and delivery only. Schools that have a waiver will be allowed to remain open to in-person instruction and critical infrastructure will remain open. The order also temporarily prohibits all non-essential travel.

In Humboldt County, healthcare workers have already said there are emergency room patients who have been waiting for days for transfers out of the area for specialized care because hospitals throughout the state don't have available beds.

Today's Humboldt County cases were confirmed after 1,040 samples were processed.

While California has a case rate of 74.1 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents (down from 93.1) with a test positivity rate of 15 percent in data released today, Humboldt has a case rate of 16.3 cases per 100,000 (up from 14 last week) and a 5.2 percent positivity rate, also an increase.

Meanwhile, the county's Joint Information Center is urging locals to get tested, calling it "one of the most helpful things county residents can do for the community at large," because it allows Public Health to catch cases early and limit spread. The state-run OptumServe testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka is open seven days a week and no-cost appointments can be made by clicking here or calling (888) 634-1123.

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 assessing risk factors for contracting the illness, which can be found 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. Find the press release from Public Health here

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