Humboldt Records 43rd COVID-19 Death, 50 New Cases, Four New Hospitalizations

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A 43rd Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19, Public Health reported today, along with 50 new cases of the virus confirmed since Friday and four new hospitalizations attributed to the disease.

The new cases were confirmed after laboratories processed 472 samples with a test-positivity rate of 10.6 percent and come after the county confirmed 127 cases and eight new hospitalizations last week as a part of a recent surge.

In a press release today, Public Health also urged local residents who test positive for the virus to cooperate with contact tracing investigations, which officials deem crucial to limiting the virus' spread.

"Given the recent rise in cases, local health officials urge county residents who test positive for COVID-19 to engage in the contact tracing process, which is an effort to catch cases early and isolate them before they spread through the broader community," the press release states.

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, 11 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including four receiving intensive care.

The county reported Friday 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.

Public Health reported last week 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. Further, Public Health reported 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 did not request additional doses from the state for 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 last 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.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,248 cases, with 183 hospitalizations and 43 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,019 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 8.3 percent.

Nationwide, more than 32.9 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 587,342 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 61,762 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 24, 2021 - 1 Death, 50 New Cases Reported; Residents Urged to Engage with Contact Tracers
707-441-5000 ; covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us ; Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm Opens in new window
1 Death, 50 New Cases Reported Since Friday;
Health Officials Encourage Residents to Participate in Contact Tracing
A Humboldt County resident has died with COVID-19, and 50 additional cases of the virus have been reported since the most recent update on Friday. The total number of county residents who have tested positive now stands at 4,248.

The community member who died was in their 70s. Humboldt County Public Health and emergency response staff extend their sympathies to all who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

Given the recent rise in cases, local health officials urge county residents who test positive for COVID-19 to engage in the contact tracing process, which is an effort to catch cases early and isolate them before they spread through the broader community.

Public Health staff will reach out to a person who tests positive and help them identify anyone who was a close contact while they were infectious, meaning they were within 6 feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Staff then follow up with those close contacts to share information about symptoms to look for, testing resources and, if necessary, isolation and quarantine. All information shared is confidential, and participation in the process is one of the most effective ways to limit spread of the virus to family members, friends or coworkers.

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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