Clockwise from top left: Humboldt County Public Health COVID-19 press conference panelists Emergency Services Manager Ryan Derby, Public Health Director Sofia Pereira, County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman, Joint Information Center spokesperson Meriah Miracle and North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire.
During yesterday's Humboldt County Public Health COVID-19 press conference, Health Officer Ian Hoffman reiterated one message: If you've been waiting to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, now is the time to get it, especially with the rising cases of COVID variants.
"The first I'll say is that emerging evidence is very clear, the vaccines work extraordinarily well, they're extraordinarily safe and effective and they work against the variants — the variants that have been here and the variants that will very likely soon be here, and I am talking about the delta variant," Hoffman said.
While it is possible for vaccinated individuals to still get the virus, hospitalizations and deaths are extremely unlikely. Meanwhile, he said, unvaccinated individuals are 80 times more likely to get COVID-19.
Humboldt County has only seen a handful of delta cases but Hoffman said it's only a matter of time before Public Health begins to see the highly transmittable variant of concern account for a major of local cases based on past patterns with the alpha and gamma variants.
Mobile Vaccine Clinics
Public Health will continue to offer vaccine clinics to residents looking to get their vaccines, now with a greater push on mobile vaccine clinics in more rural areas.
State Sen. Mike McGuire, who was also on yesterday's panel, said that the state will be working with the county to hold more mobile vaccine clinics beginning on Friday, July 23, in Klamath and again on Saturday, July 24, during the Arcata Farmers market.
"What we know is that this needs to remain an all-hands-on-deck effort. State working with the county to ensure that we continue to increase our vaccination rate here on the North Coast," McGuire said. "In many North Coast counties, the overall vaccination rate is trending lower than the overall state rate. That's why you're going to see a continued focus on going out to where folks live, especially in rural California."
According to the California Department of Public Health, Humboldt County has 64 percent of residents eligible for a vaccine have received at least one dose.
Public Health Director Sofia Pereira said her department is working hard to offer more mobile vaccine clinics throughout the county, adding that residents may see the mobile vaccine clinic at mobile home parks, community centers and churches. (Those wishing to see the mobile vaccine schedule can look on the Myturn website or call the Joint Information Center.)
McGuire added that the state is budgeting over $357 million in the next year for immunization grants that will assist public health agencies with vaccine rollout.
"While we are seeing great improvement in COVID infection numbers, this is far from over, and especially as we head into fall and winter it is up to all of us to be able to get as many folks vaccinated as possible and that means the state needs to put money on the table to be able to help Dr. Hoffman, director Pereira get folks vaccinated and make it as easy as possible," McGuire said.
Demobilization of OES
Pereira and Office of Emergency Services manager Ryan Derby gave a brief update of the demobilization of the OES, stating that the office will be scaling down to a departmental effort instead of a countywide effort.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's OES will no longer oversee the county's COVID-19 response, which will now be supervised by Public Health.
Pereira said the changes will be seen internally through staff changes but to the general public the Joint Information Center will continue to provide daily updates, social media outreach and will continue to answer any COVID-19 questions through the JIC's COVID information line (441-5000).
"We feel that we've been able to stabilize the (COVID-19) response structure to a point where we can hand the torch over to DHHS and Public Health in a way that they will be able to sustain the same level of services and the same level of response that we've seen for the past 15 months," Derby said. "What that doesn't mean is that COVID is over. By no means is it over, there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of vaccination that needs to go out into the community, ongoing testing and then the whole recovery aspect that's likely going to last years."