County Records 39th COVID-19 Death, Confirms 11 New Cases

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Public Health confirmed Humboldt County's 39th COVID-related death today, along with 11 new cases, making 44 so far this week amid an ongoing surge.

Addressing the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors this morning, Hoffman made clear that he believes the surge — which saw the county confirm 137 cases last week and 130 the week before, along with dozens of related hospitalizations — can be attributed to the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, commonly known as the UK variant.

"We had been suspecting that B.1.1.7 was here in Humboldt as early as March but without clear evidence and only a few confirmed cases in the state, it was hard to be sure," he said. "Now, that evidence is clear. B.1.1.7 is here and it has been here, and now we're seeing the effects of a more contagious and more virulent form of this coronavirus. Our hospital cases for COVID-19 in the last few weeks of April rival the worst weeks yet of the pandemic for Humboldt County, with those who are younger and healthier getting sicker."

Hoffman added that the county is seeing younger patients hospitalized, with some admitted to intensive care units, and recently saw a resident under the age of 19 hospitalized for the first time locally. Further, Hoffman said the county has had to transfer more patients out of the county in the previous two weeks due to the severity of their illness or a lack of resources to care for them than at any other time during the pandemic.

Humboldt County's case and test-positivity rates, meanwhile, have gone from some of the best in the state to some of the worst, Hoffman said.

According to a state database, 11 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally — down from 13 yesterday — including five receiving intensive care.

Today's cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 161 samples with a test-positivity rate of 6.8 percent, bringing the county's cumulative case total to 3,895.

The good news, Hoffman told the board, is that it's clear what the county must do to reverse current trends — continue masking and physical distancing, while getting as many people vaccinated as possible.

"We need to get vaccinated," he said. "There is sufficient vaccine now for everyone. We are not seeing infections in people who are vaccinated. While there are a handful of so-called 'breakthrough' cases, none of our sickest patients who are feeling very ill, are hospitalized or are in the ICU, none of them have been vaccinated. That is the power of this vaccine."

Public Health, meanwhile, reported Friday that it would receive 6,360 doses of vaccine this week — 3,894 of Pfizer, 2,116 of Moderna and 350 of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson. Of those, Public Health plans to administer more than 4,900 doses at second-dose mass vaccination clinics next week. That leaves about 1,100 for first doses, in addition to the 350 Johnson & Johnson doses, with nearly a third of eligible local residents now fully vaccinated.

Yesterday, Public Health announced it will hold a mass-vaccination clinic in Rio Dell from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Rio Dell Volunteer Fire Department. (People are urged to schedule an appointment at www.myturn.ca.gov.)

The state of California also updated its COVID-19 risk tiers today and, despite escalating case rates, kept Humboldt County in the "moderate" or orange tier it entered last month, which allowed businesses such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to increase indoor operations while allowing others — including bowling alleys and family fun centers — to open.

The state data showed that Humboldt County has a test positive rate of 6.4 percent (compared to 3.1 percent last week) and a daily case rate of 12.8 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's 5.9. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1.3 percent test-positivity rate and 4.2 cases per 100,000.

On April 1, the state cleared outdoor sports events and live performances 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.)

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 3,895 cases, with 164 hospitalizations and 39 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,692 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. In March, it dropped to 4.5 percent. Through the first seven days of April, it sat at 1.9 percent. Since then, it has jumped to more than 7 percent.

Nationwide, more than 32.2 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 574,220 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 60,765 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.

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.

Read the county release below:

May 4, 2021 - One Death, 11 New Cases Reported Today; Humboldt Remains in ‘Orange’ Tier

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
A Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19. Eleven new cases of the virus were reported today, and one previously reported case was determined to be from another county and removed. The total number of county residents who have tested positive now stands at 3,895.

The individual who died was in their 80s. Humboldt County Public Health and emergency response staff extend their condolences to the community member’s family, friends and care providers.

In today’s weekly update of the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported that Humboldt County remains in the “Orange” or Moderate tier with a positivity rate of 6.4% and adjusted case rate of 13.1 per 100,000 residents, the second highest rate of California’s 58 counties. This means the county has accumulated one week of “Red” tier metrics.

CDPH requires two weeks of worsening data to move to a more restrictive tier, but, according to the state’s website, if CDPH “determines there are objective signs of stability or improvement the county may remain in the tier.” CDPH has indicated that signs of stability relate to both containment of current outbreaks as well as the local hospital system’s ability to meet anticipated demand.

Local Public Health officials emphasized that community residents can support efforts to lower case rates by continuing to wear a mask in accordance with state guidance, avoiding large gatherings — especially indoors — and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

A Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, at the Rio Dell Volunteer Fire Department (50 Center St.). Walk-ins will be accommodated as long as doses are available. To sign up in advance, go to MyTurn.ca.gov, or call 833-422-4255.

Many local pharmacies are also offering COVID-19 vaccination. To check availability and times, go to VaccineFinder.org.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its face coverings guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. CDPH followed that announcement by issuing guidance that closely mirrors CDC’s with a few notable exceptions.

While CDC’s guidance states that unvaccinated people can forego masking outdoors except in large crowds, CDPH still requires masking anytime 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Both agencies state that everyone should continue to wear face masks in indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

To read CDPH’s guidance in full, go to cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/guidance-for-face-coverings.aspx.


View the Humboldt County Data Dashboard online at humboldtgov.org/dashboard, or go to humboldtgov.org/DashboardArchives to download today’s data.

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000.

Some local pharmacies are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments. See if there are appointments available at one of these locations by clicking on the links below.

Safeway: mhealthappointments.com/covidappt
CVS Pharmacy: cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine
Rite Aid: riteaid.com/covid-19
Walgreen’s: walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19
Walmart: walmart.com/cp/1228302
Costco: costco.com/covid-vaccine.html

Sign up for COVID-19 vaccination: MyTurn.ca.gov
Vaccine Finder: VaccineFinder.org
Local COVID-19 vaccine information: humboldtgov.org/VaccineInfo
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/Dashboard
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19
Instagram: @HumCoCOVID19
Twitter: @HumCoCOVID19
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert

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