HumCo Records 44th COVID-related Death, 14 New Cases

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Humboldt County has recorded its 44th COVID-19 related death, Public Health confirmed today, while also reporting 14 new cases of the virus and one new hospitalization.

The the local resident who died was in their 70s, according to Public Health. Today's cases were reported after laboratories processed 185 samples with a test-positivity rate of 7.6 percent.

The county also announced yesterday that hundreds of vaccine appointments remain open and it will be holding clinics from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Eureka High School and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jun 9 at the Mattole Grange. (More details on those below.) Last week, state officials announced vaccinated residents will be eligible to receive millions of dollars in prizes, including 10 payouts of $1.5 million each, in a drawing June 15.

Officials are pointing to the local presence of the B.1.1.7 variant as a reason for the recent spike in cases that saw 440 confirmed in May, with Public Health reporting recently 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, seven people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, including two 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 118,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 57 percent of the eligible local population now having received at least one dose and more than half of residents age 40 and older now fully vaccinated. 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 is also urging employers to play a part in getting employees vaccinated.

The county currently has more than 10,800 vaccine doses on hand.

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 in April, 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 5.6 percent and a daily case rate of 8.2 per 100,000 compared to the prior week's 12.5. California overall, meanwhile, reports a 0.8 percent test-positivity rate and 2.2 cases per 100,000.

To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 4,339 cases, with 191 hospitalizations and 44 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard lists 4,189 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 jumped to 8.3 percent.

Nationwide, more than 33.1 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 592,776 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, more than 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 62,092 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:

One Death, 14 New Cases Reported Today
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, and 14 new cases of the virus were reported today. A total of 4,339 county residents have tested positive.

The resident who died was in their 70s. Humboldt County Public Health and emergency response staff share their sympathies with the person’s friends, family and care providers.

Public Health has 10,282 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on hand and will not request any additional doses from the State of California for next week.

Upcoming mass-vaccination clinics are scheduled in Eureka and Petrolia, and walk-ins are welcomed at all Public Health clinics. For those who would like to schedule in advance, go to MyTurn.ca.gov.

See the full schedule and which vaccines will be offered below:

Saturday, June 5 - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Eureka High School cafeteria (1915 J St., Eureka)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson
Wednesday, June 9 - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mattole Grange (36512 Mattole Road, Petrolia)
Johnson & Johnson
The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is authorized for people 18 and older. Residents age 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine. A parent or guardian must accompany minor children to the clinic.

Many local pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccine, and most allow walk-ins. Check availability at vaccines.gov. Residents can also text their ZIP code to 438829 to find a vaccination site nearby.

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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