HumCo Reports Another COVID Death, 102 New Cases as Pfizer Vaccine Gets Full FDA Approval

By

1 comment
Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process.
A 62nd Humboldt County resident has died of COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while announcing it had confirmed 102 new cases of the virus and four new hospitalizations since Friday.

News of Humboldt County's 62 COVID death — this one of someone in their 60s — comes just hours after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals age 16 and older, citing data showing the vaccine to be 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infection.

"For all this who were waiting for full approval of the vaccine, that day has arrived," said Humboldt County Public Health Director Sofia Pereira in a press release. "Please get vaccinated as soon as you can."

Today's cases — which confirmed after laboratories processed 943 samples with a test-positivity rate of 10.8 percent — come after the county confirmed 362 new cases last week amid an ongoing surge fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant. To date in August, the county has confirmed 1,422 new cases, as well as 71 hospitalizations and nine deaths.

Public Health also reported today that changes in the way it is conducting case counts and reporting data — it is switching to an automated system of case collection through the state — likely depressed today's case count and the true number is likely higher than 102.

"The California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) currently shows hundreds of cases assigned to Humboldt County that still need to be reviewed locally," the press release states. "Today’s count of confirmed cases is likely to be much higher than 102 and should not be interpreted as a decrease in disease transmission. Public Health expects to report large numbers of new cases each day this week as data is processed."

With today's cases, the county has now confirmed 1,320 so far in August, as well as 67 hospitalizations and eight deaths as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to circulate widely in the local community. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 14.5 percent in August, far outpacing state (5.8 percent) and national (11.6 percent) rates.

A state database, meanwhile, shows 33 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally with nine under intensive care, as hospital capacity remains a growing concern among health officials.

Public Health reported Friday that 59.1 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated in Humboldt County, or 51.7 percent of the total population. While the average daily case rates among fully vaccinated residents have dropped sharply since the county reimplemented a mandatory masking order Aug. 7 — falling from 28 cases per 100,000 residents to 18 — rates among unvaccinated residents remain critically high at 73 per 100,000 residents.

Last week, the county also reported that due to the record-high case volume, it will be making some changes to its dashboard and data collection practices moving forward. Specifically, the county will drop the "cases cleared" section of its dashboard because it's become too time consuming to track all patients through their illnesses, while also discontinuing updates to its "transmission type" section because "data show the virus is widespread in our communities to the extent that it is frequently impossible" to determine who someone was infected.


The recent spike in cases and a corresponding threat to local hospital capacity prompted Health Officer Ian Hoffman to announce a new countywide masking mandate that went into effect Aug. 7.

National, state and local health officials advise that vaccination remains an incredibly safe and effective protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COIVD-19, and the county has a host of no-cost clinics scheduled over the next week. (See the full schedule below.)

The case surge is also impacting local testing capacity, public health reports, with the county's OptumServe site and local pharmacies struggling to meet demand. The county announced today that it is expanding testing capacity locally and will open a new Eureka location to offer no-cost testing "most weekdays." Additionally, OptumServe, which provides no-cost testing seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka, also holds testing clinics fonce a week in McKinleyville, Fortuna, Hoopa and Arcata. Due to high demand, appointments are encouraged and can be made here.

According to a data tracker run by the nonprofit news organization CalMatters, Humboldt's COVID-19 hospitalization rate is 24.2 patients per 100,000 residents.

Del Norte County, meanwhile, now has the worst rate in California, with 21 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including eight under intensive care, out of a population of around 29,000, which is equivalent to 75.5 hospitalized COVID-19 patients per 100,000 residents. According to the state database, there are no ICU beds available.

Earlier this month, Del Norte County's only hospital, Sutter Coast Hospital, announced it was opening two surge tents to treat patients while canceling all non-emergent procedures in the hospital, and issued a plea to local residents to follow public health recommendations and get vaccinated. (Read more here.)

Earlier this month, health officials also urged local residents to reconsider gatherings with people outside their households.

The local case news comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released new data indicating the Delta variant is highly transmittable, even among fully vaccinated people. While data indicates the vaccines remain highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death, the CDC warns that it leads to very high viral loads even among vaccinated, mildly symptomatic people, meaning they can still transmit the virus to others.

In addition to wearing masks, Public Health is urging residents to help limit the spread of the virus by participating in contact tracing efforts and getting vaccinated.

Public Health is urging residents who have yet to do so to get their COVID-19 vaccines, as it is the only protection against severe illness and death from the virus. This week's Public Health vaccine clinics include Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson doses. The full schedule includes:

McKinleyville – Monday, Aug. 23, from 3 to 7 p.m.
Dollar General – (1180 Murray Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Housing Authority – (735 W. Everding St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Highland Park (High St. Parking Area) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Thursday, Aug. 26, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Dollar General (650 S. Fortuna Blvd.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Friday, Aug. 27, from 10:30 to noon
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Honeydew – Friday, Aug. 27, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Sunday, Aug. 29, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Redwoods Rural Health Center (101 W. Coast Road) Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

To make an appointment in advance or view additional vaccination opportunities and to request help with transportation, visit www.vaccines.gov or www.myturn.ca.gov.

On Friday, 134 residents were vaccinated at clinics hosted by Six Rivers Brewery and the McKinleyville Ace Home and Garden Center, the JIC reports.

As of today, Humboldt County had confirmed 6,529 cases, with 308 hospitalizations and 62 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.

The county dashboard listed 5,073 cases as having been "cleared," though that just means they are no longer considered active 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 but fell back to 5.9 percent in June. In July, it rose to 10.1 percent — the highest at any point in the pandemic.

Nationwide, more than 37.7 million cases have been confirmed with 625,375 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.1 million cases and 64,677 related deaths have been confirmed in California, according to the Department of Public Health.

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's Joint Information Center release below:
August 23, 2021 - 1 Death, 102 New Cases Since Friday; Pfizer Vaccine Receives Full FDA Approval
A Humboldt County resident in their 60s has died with COVID-19, bringing to 62 the number of residents who have died with the virus. The staff of the Department Operations Center extends their condolences to the person’s family, friends and caregivers.

One hundred two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the county since Friday. The total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus now stands at 6,529. Four new hospitalizations were also reported, including one person in their 20s, one in their 40s and two in their 80s.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals age 16 and older, citing data that showed the vaccine to be 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection among more than 40,000 clinical trial participants. According to the FDA’s statement, “The public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

Humboldt County Public Health Director Sofia Pereira applauded the move, saying, “For all those who were waiting for full approval of the vaccine, that day has arrived. Please get vaccinated as soon as you can.” Pereira pointed to a recent survey from the Kaiser Foundation that found three out of 10 unvaccinated adults would be likely to get vaccinated if a COVID-19 vaccine received full FDA approval.

The Pfizer vaccine continues to be approved for children 12 to 15 years old under the FDA’s emergency use authorization. More than 204 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recently recommended a third dose for some immunocompromised individuals.

Vaccine remains broadly available at this time and is the most effective way to prevent COVID-19. While breakthrough cases do occur, all available vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.

Vaccine is available at Public Health clinics located throughout the county, and walk-ins are welcome. To make an appointment in advance, go to MyTurn.ca.gov. Most local pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccines, and many allow walk-ins. Visit vaccines.gov to check availability, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to find a participating pharmacy nearby.

See the schedule of upcoming Public Health clinics below:

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Housing Authority (735 W. Everding St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Eureka – Wednesday, Aug. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Highland Park (High St. Parking Area)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Fortuna – Thursday, Aug. 26, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Dollar General (650 S. Fortuna Blvd.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Petrolia – Friday, Aug. 27, from 10:30 to noon
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Honeydew – Friday, Aug. 27, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Redway – Sunday, Aug. 29, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Redwoods Rural Health Center (101 W. Coast Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson

Full protection from vaccination is achieved two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose series or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

To improve the efficiency of data reporting and allow staff to focus on vaccination efforts, Public Health has automated some collection of case data. The California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) currently shows hundreds of cases assigned to Humboldt County that still need to be reviewed locally. Today’s count of confirmed cases is likely to be much higher than 102 and should not be interpreted as a decrease in disease transmission. Public Health expects to report large numbers of new cases each day this week as data is processed.

Beginning this week, the weekly data section of the Humboldt County Data Dashboard will be updated on Fridays. View the 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
###


Editor's note: This post was updated from a previous version to include information about Humboldt County changing the way it collects case data.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Add a comment