Public Health Confirms 33 New COVID-19 Cases, Urges Cooperation with Contact Investigations


Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 33 new COVID-19 cases today and issued a plea to local residents who test positive for the virus to cooperate with county contact tracing investigators.

"If you test positive, Public Health is here to offer support in keeping you and your loved ones safe," Health Officer Ian Hoffman said in a press release. "That means we need to talk to you. Please answer the call. Our contact investigators are here to help slow the spread of the virus and that requires all of us."

Public Health is having so much trouble contacting some positive cases that it has added an "unknown" designation to its categories of transmission type on its dashboard, which to date has included "travel-acquired," "community transmission" and "under investigation." Cases in which Public Health is unable to contact the positive case or the person is unwilling to cooperate, will be classified as "unknown" moving forward.

Yesterday, as Humboldt County recorded its 24th COVID-related death and a pair of new hospitalizations, the state moved Humboldt County back into the most restrictive purple "widespread" tier as officials have warned would happen for weeks.

Last week saw a record 270 cases and the county crossing the threshold of 2,000 cases. 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. This week has already seen 141 cases confirmed on the heels of a record 269 last week.

In its press release, Public Health is also urging all local healthcare providers to sign up to be vaccinated, saying the county can't move on to its next priority vaccination group until it finishes with healthcare workers, who can sign up to schedule a vaccination through this link.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 2,171 cases, with 77 hospitalizations and 24 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths. Fifteen Humboldt County residents are currently hospitalized, according to the county's dashboard, including four under intensive care.

The county dashboard lists 1,602 people as having "recovered" from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious and does not account for long-term health impacts, which local healthcare workers have told the Journal can be substantial, even in previously health patients. The dashboard states that there are currently 545 confirmed active COVID-19 cases in Humboldt County.

Nationally, more than 22.7 million people have tested positive for the virus, including 217,393 yesterday, with 379,255 deaths, including 4,131 yesterday, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Statewide, more than 2.7 million people have been confirmed to have the virus, with 30,513 fatalities, according to the Department of Public Health.

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 elective 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 but could very soon.

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.

With the move back to the purple or "widespread" tier, Humboldt businesses and organizations will again face increased restrictions, with even greater ones looming on the horizon.
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.

The data has not been updated today but yesterday the state reported the Northern California region had a combined 17.6 percent 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 433 samples were processed with a test-positivity rate of 7.6 percent.

While California has a case rate of 91.7 daily cases confirmed per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 17.6 percent in data released today, Humboldt has a case rate of 25.2 cases per 100,000 (up from 16.3 in last week's report) and a 6.5  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 [email protected] or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at [email protected] 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.

Read the JIC release below:
Jan. 13, 2021 - 33 Additional Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; [email protected] ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A total of 2,171 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after 33 new cases were reported today.

All Phase 1A health care workers are encouraged to fill out the Healthcare Workforce survey linked below to receive an invitation to a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. That includes people who work in health care settings or long-term care facilities, home health caregivers and community health workers, including promotoras.

The form can be linked to here:

“If you’re a health care worker and haven’t yet been vaccinated, register now,” said Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman. “In order for us to move onto the next priority group, we need to finish vaccinating health care workers in preparation for opening up vaccination clinics to additional groups, including older adults.”

The Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard has been updated to include “Unknown” as an additional category for transmission type, in addition to Contact to a Known Case, Travel-Acquired, Community Transmission and Under Investigation.

A person who tested positive for COVID-19 will be assigned as Unknown if the individual is:

Unable to be contacted
Not returning calls after initial contact
Unwilling to cooperate with Public Health.
Cases that met these criteria previously were assigned as Under Investigation. Dr. Hoffman said this new category will offer more clarity on the outcome of investigations.

“If you test positive, Public Health is here to offer support in keeping you and your loved ones safe. That means we need to talk to you,” Dr. Hoffman said. “Please answer the call. Our contact investigators are here to help slow the spread of the virus, and that requires all of us.”

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit or Local information is available at or during business hours by contacting [email protected] or calling 707-441-5000.

Local COVID-19 vaccine information:
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard:
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