The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, with Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson absent, to continue meeting virtually amid a surge in local COVID-19 cases.
Health Officer Ian Hoffman, who recently issued a mandatory masking order
that will take effect at midnight tonight, told the board that things are "changing very rapidly" in the county due to spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. The county has confirmed
588 new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, with increasing test positivity and hospitalization rates.
"Case rates have more than quadrupled in the last couple of weeks," Hoffman said, adding that we're "seeing hospitals filling up to a degree they have not previously. We are hopeful the mask mandate coupled with people reconsidering gatherings will help drive down the case rates over the coming weeks."
Responding to a comment from the public, First District Supervisor Rex Bohn, who announced
this morning that he has tested positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated, defended Hoffman's authority to issue the masking order, which requires all residents to wear facial coverings in indoor spaces outside their home and when they can't maintain 6 feet of physical distancing outside.
"It's his decision," Bohn said. "I appreciate him stepping forward because I don't think he's invested heavily in any mask corporation or anything else. I think he's doing what we hired him to do, which is look out for the health of Humboldt County."
Bohn later said he sees the mandate as a way to avoid shutting "everything" down and quipped that residents should "get the damn vaccine."
Fourth District Supervisor and Board Chair Virginia Bass said the policy of self-attestation — which relied on the honor system in requiring unvaccinated residents to continue to mask while those who were fully vaccinated didn't have to — "was a failure."
"I'm mad right now," Bass said, adding she "completely" supports continuing to meet virtually despite the board having voted to return to in-person meetings next week.
Second District Supervisor Michelle Bushnell pushed back against Bass' characterizing self-attestation as a failure, pointing out that even fully vaccinated people can get the virus.
After minimal discussion, the board voted unanimously to stick to Zoom for the foreseeable future.