Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 14 new COVID-19 cases today — making 35 so far this week – after labs processed 127 samples with a test-positivity rate of 10.2 percent.
The county also announced today that it has sworn in 23 new disaster health care volunteers — making 156 to date — to help with the ongoing vaccination effort. Vaccination clinics remain by appointment only and residents are urged to fill out a vaccine interest form
so they can be notified when they are eligible.
Emergency Services Manager Ryan Derby said this is arguably the largest disaster-related volunteer effort in Humboldt County history.
"Given the remote, rural nature of Humboldt County, it is important for us to embrace a whole-community approach to emergency management,” he said in the press release. “Trained community volunteers are absolutely crucial to the success of our operations — they are dedicated people who have answered the call to help their neighbors, friends and loved ones."
The state of California also updated its COVID-19 risk tiers today, with Humboldt County remaining in the state's red "substantial" tier.
The California Department of Public Health announced Friday that a benchmark of distributing some 2 million vaccine doses in underserved areas of the state has been met and the threshold for when counties are moved into the most restrictive COVID-19 risk tier has been revised.
According to the county's release, public health officials have "expressed cautious optimism" about Humboldt's ability to not only remain in the red tier but even find its way back down the COVID-19 risk ladder to reach the orange or yellow levels if residents continue to practice safety measures, get tested and sign up to be vaccinated, when it's their turn.
“Each day we make progress in this pandemic, and we are hopeful that we can build on that effort and get our community and our economy back on track," Public Health Director Michelle Stephens said in Friday's press release. "Please continue to wear a face covering, wash your hands regularly, avoid large gatherings and maintain distance.”
When the state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers
today, Humboldt County remained in the red "substantial" tier, meaning restaurants, movie theaters, churches and other organizations are allowed to continue limited indoor operations.
The state, meanwhile, has announced that beginning April 1 outdoor sports events and live performances will be cleared to reopen with fans and spectators, so long as facial coverings are worn at all times, venues follow tier-based capacity restrictions and provide reserved, assigned seating. (Read more here
Other changes are vaccination distribution and re-opening strategies to prioritize making sure residents of socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of the state have access to vaccines. Read more about the move and how it may benefit Humboldt here
Data shows the county with a seven-day average test-positivity rate of 2.8 percent and a daily case rate of 8.3 per 100,000, both of which increased slightly from the previous week. California as a whole, meanwhile, has a 2.3 percent test-positivity rate and 6.5 cases per 100,000.
On the vaccine front, the state announced
last week the beginning process of transitioning vaccine distribution to Blue Shield, which has been contracted by the state to streamline and manage the logistics of allocating vaccines to local health departments and providers. The switch will happen in three waves, with Humboldt County, which currently ranks 28th in the state for doses administered per capita, according to a Journal analysis
, falling in the third wave later this month.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine — manufactured by Johnson & Johnson — for emergency use, and a first shipment of 200 doses arrived in Humboldt County this week.
Currently, local residents over the age of 65, healthcare workers, teachers, first responders, food and agricultural workers, and residents ages 16 to 65 with one of a specific list
of high-risk medical conditions or disabilities are eligible to receive their shots, with the first vaccine clinic for the food and ag sector set for next week. The clinics remain by invitation only to control exposure risks and ensure vaccinations are administered according to the county's priority tiers, with residents urged to complete the county's vaccination interest form
to be notified when they are eligible.
Residents are also urged to continue to follow COVID safety guidelines as vaccinations roll out, which could take months.
To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 3,383 cases, with 135 hospitalizations and 34 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.
The county dashboard lists 3,257 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 healthy patients.
The county’s test positivity rate has gone from 3.6 percent in November, to 7.3 percent in December and 9.9 percent in January, before dropping to 6.5 percent in February. Through the first 15 days of March, it had dropped to 5.1 percent.
Nationwide, more than 29.3 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 533,057 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control
. In California, 3.5 million cases have been confirmed with 55,372 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health
The state has issued a 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.
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 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 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 county release below:
Mar. 16, 2021 - 14 New Cases Reported Today
707-441-5000 ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County today. A previously recorded case was determined to be from another jurisdiction, so the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 3,383.
In related news, 23 Disaster Health Care Volunteers (DHVs) were sworn in Monday to assist with the ongoing vaccination effort. That makes a total of 156 volunteers — 123 DHVs, 31 Community Emergency Response Team volunteers and two unaffiliated community volunteers — serving in various volunteer roles such as assisting with PPE and food distribution, alternate care site set up, vaccine support and administration and field reporting.
Emergency Services Manager Ryan Derby said this is arguably the largest disaster volunteer effort in Humboldt County history. “Given the remote, rural nature of Humboldt County, it is important for us to embrace a whole-community approach to emergency management,” he said. “Trained community volunteers are absolutely crucial to the success of our operations — they are dedicated people who have answered the call to help their neighbors, friends and loved ones.
“I am extremely thankful for their service to our community and wholeheartedly believe that their continued involvement will help us see a resolution to this lengthy emergency response.”
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.
Some Safeway and CVS Pharmacy locations are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Learn who is eligible for vaccination and see if there are appointments available for your age group or sector at one of these locations by clicking on the links below.
CVS Pharmacy: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine.
Local COVID-19 vaccine information: humboldtgov.org/VaccineInfo
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/Dashboard
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert