HumCo Records Another COVID Death, Another Record Case Count

By

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.

Humboldt County Public Health reported a single-day record 223 new COVID-19 cases today, as well as the county's 125th COVID death and two new hospitalizations, including one of a resident in their 20s.

Today's cases make 701 confirmed so far this week and come after 853 were confirmed last week. More than 22 months into the pandemic, 12.4 percent of Humboldt County's cumulative cases — 1,554 — have now been reported in the first 11 days of January amid a surge fueled by holiday gatherings and the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Earlier today, Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman announced his resignation after 13 months on the job, saying he's accepted another employment offer that allows him to return to clinical work. According to a letter of resignation sent to the Board of Supervisors last night, Hoffman intends to stay in his post through March 4.

"This decision does not come easy to me as this is the most important and impactful work I’ve ever had in my medical career," Hoffman wrote. "The people I work with are dedicated and kind, supportive and have a love for their community that is strong.  However, I am not able to continue in this full-time role as the health officer and maintain the work-life balance that my family needs from me.  My family is the most important thing to me, and I must show up for them first."

Hoffman's announcement comes as cases are surging locally and test-positivity rates and other indicators signal the virus is endemic in the local community.

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 593 samples with a test-positivity rate of 37.6 percent. After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month to that point 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 December. So far in January, it has more than doubled, rising to 29.3 percent.

Over the past seven days, Humboldt County has confirmed 966 new cases, or approximately 102.2 per day per 100,000 residents, while recording a test-positivity rate of 25.5 percent. California, meanwhile, has confirmed an average of 166.3 new cases daily per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 22.4 percent, while the nation has seen an average of 423 new cases confirmed daily per 100,000 residents and a test-positivity rate of 25.9 percent over the past seven days.

Early studies indicate the Omicron variant is able to both infect and be transmitted by fully vaccinated people at roughly the same rates as with their unvaccinated counterparts, hastening its spread through the country, state and county. However, public health officials and doctors continue to report that the vaccines remain very effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization, especially in people who have received their booster doses. Locally, just 42 percent of eligible residents have received their boosters, according to this report from CalMatters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data indicating unvaccinated adults are more than eight times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated, and Public Health reports locally unvaccinated residents are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus than their vaccinated counterparts.

Amid the ongoing surge locally, St. Joseph hospital sent out a press release today saying that, due to the Omicron variants "increased disruption to hospital staffing," it was "reminding" the public that emergency rooms are not places to get tested or vaccinated for COVID-19.

Public Health reported Wednesday it is modifying local quarantine and isolation requirements for asymptomatic individuals, reducing it from 10 days to five under specific conditions, including that they be either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic with improving conditions, and that they test negative for COVID-19 on or after the fifth day of their isolation.. (The full guidance can be found here.)

The county reported Jan. 3 that genomic sequencing on two samples taken between Dec. 19 and Dec. 21 were determined to be Omicron, meaning the variant has likely been circulating in the county for at least a couple of weeks. For more on the Omicron variant and what it means for Humboldt, read last week's Journal cover story here.

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, ventilate indoor spaces, 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 soon as possible.

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 20 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with two under intensive care. The local hospital census peaked Sept. 3 with 42 COVID-19 patients but had fallen to nine patients Dec. 29 and has slowly marched upward since.

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.

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 — Wednesday, Jan. 12, noon to 6 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment only at the Fortuna River Lodge
Appointments strongly recommended.

Eureka — Thursday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
College of the Redwoods Gym Lobby (7351 Tompkins Hill Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Petrolia — Friday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Honeydew — Friday, Jan. 14, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Redway — Saturday, Jan. 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Healy Senior Center (456 Briceland Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Jan. 18, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments required.

Eureka Pediatric Clinic — Tuesday, Jan. 18, 1:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Jan. 18, 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 on a first-come first-served basis
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 12,506 with 487 hospitalizations and 125 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 61.7 million cases have been confirmed with 837,274
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 6 million cases and 76,564 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.
Jan. 11, 2022 - 1 Death, 2 New Hospitalizations, 223 New Cases Reported
Humboldt County Public Health reported today the death of a resident aged 80 or older due to COVID-19. Staff in the Department Operations Center extend their condolences to all who have lost a loved one to the virus.

An additional 223 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, bringing to 12,506 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus. Two new hospitalizations, a resident in their 20s and another in their 60s, were also reported.

The California Department of Public Health has updated its guidance on isolation and quarantine for workplace settings aimed at allowing certain vaccinated people to stay working in specific situations if they have been exposed to the virus and don’t develop symptoms.

In workplace settings, employees who are vaccinated and booster-eligible but have not yet received their booster dose and are exposed to someone with COVID can continue to go to work as long as:

A negative diagnostic test is obtained within three to five days after the last exposure
The employee wears a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days
The employee continues to have no symptoms.
When not at work, those employees should stay at home and quarantine.

State health officials have expanded booster eligibility to children aged 12 to 15 if it has been at least five months since they completed their primary vaccination series. Appointments can be made on the state’s updated vaccination portal My Turn.

Public Health continues to monitor the surging case counts that officials say suggest the highly transmissible Omicron variant is rapidly increasing in Humboldt County.

Health officials are continuing to say that hospitalizations, rather than positive case numbers, are the best indicator of how the county is being impacted in the most recent surge of cases. Vaccines and boosters provide an increased level of protection from Omicron, Delta and other variants.

Those individuals who are fully vaccinated or boosted typically develop milder symptoms, shorter illness duration and have fewer hospitalizations and less severe outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates of hospitalizations by vaccination status, unvaccinated adults are more than 8 times more likely to be hospitalized than those adults who are fully vaccinated. Locally, that number is currently 17 times higher.

Public Health officials continue to stress that residents, especially those who are unvaccinated, continue to protect themselves and their families from all COVID-19 variants by following mask requirements in public settings, socially distancing and getting vaccinated or boosted when eligible to do so.

As always, 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, an 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 your 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. Questions about clinic services can be directed to the Joint Information Center at 1-707-441-5000.

Fortuna — Wednesday, Jan. 12, noon to 6 p.m.
Fortuna River Lodge (1800 Riverwalk Drive)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment only at the Fortuna River Lodge.
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Thursday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
College of the Redwoods Gym Lobby (7351 Tompkins Hill Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Petrolia — Friday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Mattole Valley Resource Center (167 Sherman St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Honeydew — Friday, Jan. 14, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Honeydew Elementary School (1 Wilder Ridge Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Redway — Saturday, Jan. 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Healy Senior Center (456 Briceland Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Jan. 18, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No testing available
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments required.

Eureka Pediatric Clinic — Tuesday, Jan. 18, 1:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Jan. 18, 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 on a first-come first-served basis
$25 gift card for adults receiving a first or second dose
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

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.

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
###




Add a comment