Public Health Confirms One Death, Two Hospitalizations, 55 New COVID-19 Cases

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Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 55 new COVID-19 cases, two new hospitalizations of a resident in their 60s and another in their 70s, and one additional death of a resident in their 80s.

Today's cases — which make 524 so far this month — come after laboratories processed 509 samples with a test-positivity rate of 11.2 percent. 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 15.9 percent in August and 15.2 percent in September. In October, it dipped to 12.1 percent but rose to 14.2 percent in November and sat at 14.2 percent through the first 17 days of December. While the seven-day average test-positivity rate for the nation sits at 7.1 percent and California's has risen to 2.8 percent, Humboldt County's reached 16.4 percent this week.

In a presentation to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors last week, Health Officer Ian Hoffman said no cases of the new Omicron variant have been confirmed locally, though he said he "fully expects" that to change.

"We will continue to monitor and do genomic sequencing and other testing that might be able to detect that variant quickly, and let the public know once we do see any evidence of that in Humboldt County," he said.

As the variant spreads throughout the United States in the midst of the holiday season, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated and for all eligible to get their booster shots.

Public Health officials continue to stress that the best way for residents to protect themselves from COVID-19 and variants like Omicron is to get vaccinated, wear masks indoors and in crowded places, get tested immediately regardless of vaccination status if any cold- or flu-like symptoms develop and stay home when sick. Eligible residents, health officials say, should get their booster shots, as well.

The CDC has designated Humboldt County as an area of high community transmission and recommends holding gatherings outdoors when possible, limiting the number of participants in indoor gatherings, adjusting the indoor layout to allow for physical distancing and enhancing the ventilation of indoor spaces.

A state database shows 12 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with two under intensive care. The local hospital census peaked Sept. 3 with 42 COVID-19 patients.

The Food and Drug Administration recently authorized boosters for everyone age 16 and older who are at least six months past their second shot of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and two months past their shot of Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Public Health reported on Friday that Humboldt's seven-day average case rate is currently at 14, meaning that for every 100,000 residents, 15 residents tested positive for the virus daily over the last seven days. But the case rate varies by vaccination status.

The CDC published a study indicating unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 and 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than their fully vaccinated counterparts.

National, state and local health officials advise that vaccination remains incredibly safe and effective protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, and the county has a host of no-cost clinics scheduled over the next week. With the upcoming holidays and high demand for testing and vaccine, Public Health highly recommends scheduling an appointment for either.  

Fortuna Family Clinic — Monday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walker Elementary School (2089 Newburg Road)
Ages 5-18 and family members.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 16 and older.
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
No testing available.
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna.
PCR and rapid testing available.
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose.
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Dec. 27, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments required.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 10,624 with 467 hospitalizations and 121 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 50.7 million cases have been confirmed with 803,593
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 4.9 million cases and 77,167 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 JIC's report below.
Dec. 20, 2021 - 1 Death, 2 New Hospitalizations, 55 New Cases Reported Since Friday
Humboldt County Public Health reported today the death of a resident aged 80 or older from COVID-19. Staff in the Department Operations Center extend their condolences to the families, friends and caregivers of those who have died and all who have lost a loved one to the virus.

Fifty-five new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Friday, bringing to 10,624 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus. Two new hospitalizations, a resident in their 60s and another in their 70s, were also reported.

Over the weekend, 375 individuals were vaccinated at Public Health clinics held in Blue Lake, Arcata and McKinleyville that included pediatric, first and second doses and additional doses and boosters.

State health officials are encouraging Californians to enjoy the holidays this season but are urging residents to get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves from COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Residents aged 5 and older are eligible to get vaccinated and anyone aged 16 and older is encouraged to get a booster if it’s been at least six months since the completion of their initial vaccine series.

Although the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, health officials cite new data that suggests primary vaccination and booster shots can lessen impacts, including hospitalizations and deaths. No known cases have been detected locally, but the Omicron variant has been confirmed in California and nearly all U.S. states. Incidence of the variant is anticipated to rise over the next several weeks following holiday gatherings.

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention recommends anyone who is sick or unvaccinated and has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 to forego travel. All travelers are recommended to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and to isolate and get tested if they develop symptoms after travel.

Public Health testing is available through OptumServe at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka through Wednesday, Dec. 23. The Wharfinger site will be closed Friday and Saturday and will be back open for regular business starting at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 26. Walk-ins will be accommodated, but appointments are recommended and can be made at lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123. Turnaround times for test results through OptumServe average two to three days.

Humboldt County’s vaccination and testing services are available free of charge. Although walk-ins are allowed at most regular Public Health clinics and many pharmacy vaccination sites, a sharp increase in demand for boosters has caused delays at some locations. As a result, appointments are required for pediatric clinics and for clinics at Public Health’s main office. Appointments are strongly recommended for all other clinics and are the best way to ensure a shot is available during your visit. Appointments can be made at MyTurn.ca.gov.

Vaccines, including boosters, are available at local pharmacies. To check the availability of a specific vaccine, visit the vaccines.gov page, or text a ZIP code to 438829 to locate a nearby pharmacy offering vaccines.

See the schedule below for specific Public Health vaccination and testing clinic dates, times, locations and available services:

Eureka — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 16 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
Appointments required.

Eureka Pediatric Clinic — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 1:15 to 3:30 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11. Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Dec. 27, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments required.

View the Data Dashboard online at humboldtgov.org/dashboard, or go to humboldtgov.org/DashboardArchives to download data from a previous time.

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 1-707-441-5000.

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