Public Health Confirms 12 New Cases as California Readies to Lift Many Restrictions Next Month

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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 12 new COVID-19 cases today, making 127 for the week, as well as two new hospitalizations.

The new cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 177 samples with a test-positivity rate of 6.8 percent and come after the county confirmed 138 cases last week as a part of a recent surge.

Officials are pointing to the local presence of the B.1.1.7 variant as a reason for the recent spike in cases, with Public Health reporting last week that genomic sequencing has identified more than 40 local cases of the variant, which is associated with a 50 percent increase in transmission and more severe illness.

According to a state database, eight people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including two receiving intensive care.

The county also reported today that state officials believe California is on track to move beyond its current blueprint for COVID-19 restrictions June 15, after which almost all business sectors can resume usual operations with limited exceptions, mostly for large events with 5,000 attendees or more. But the reopening will add risk for non-vaccinated individuals, and the state is urging residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. (Read more about the state's announcement via the press release below.)

Public Health reported yesterday that the county has administered more than 110,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 38 percent of local population now fully vaccinated, including nearly 75 percent of residents over the age of 65. Earlier this week, the county announced that residents can now text their ZIP code to 438829 or call (800) 232-0233 to find a pharmacy near them offering the vaccine, and the county has two Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled at College of the Redwoods on May 27 and June 2, both from 2 to 6 p.m.

The county currently has more than 13,500 vaccine doses on hand and said it will not request additional doses from the state this week.

Health officials continue to urge Humboldt residents to get tested, with more screening sites opened throughout the region. Residents needing to schedule a first or second vaccine appointment are encouraged to sign up through www.vaccines.gov.

The state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers Tuesday 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 4.2 percent and a daily case rate of nine per 100,000 compared to the prior week's eight. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 1.1 percent test-positivity rate and 3.2 cases per 100,000.

"Only three California counties fared worse than Humboldt in terms of case rate, and only two had a higher positivity rate," reads the county's press release issued yesterday noting the county remained in the orange tier.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,198 cases, with 179 hospitalizations and 42 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 3,968 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 before inching back up to 5.9 percent in April. In May, it has jumped to 7.9 percent.

Nationwide, more than 32.8 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 584,975 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 61,672 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 and other newly opened screening site information can be found here

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 21, 2021 - 12 New Cases Reported; State Releases Details for Moving Beyond the ‘Blueprint'

707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
Twelve new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Humboldt County today, bringing to 4,198 the total number of county residents who have tested positive for the virus.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that the state is “on track” to move beyond the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” on June 15.

That means the four-tier system with corresponding COVID-19 safety measures will no longer be in place, and all industry sectors can resume usual operations, with limited exceptions for what the state is calling “mega-events” of 5,000 attendees or more. The agency said it will continue to provide updated guidance for youth, health care and high-risk congregate settings.

CDPH’s statement encouraged residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. People who are not yet fully vaccinated should still follow the state’s masking guidance, which requires mask wearing in indoor public spaces and outdoors where physical distance cannot be maintained.

Today’s update from CDPH also emphasized that employers must continue to follow applicable regulations from CalOSHA, which is expected to make a decision on the extent of COVID-19-related safety measures required in the workplace in early June. Currently, CalOSHA guidelines require masking in all workplaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Read more about moving beyond the “Blueprint” at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Beyond-Blueprint-Framework.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.


Sign up for COVID-19 vaccination: MyTurn.ca.gov
Check for vaccine availability at a local pharmacy: Vaccines.gov
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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