Public Health Confirms 185 new COVID-19 Cases, Capping Record Week

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Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process. - SUBMITTED
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  • Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process.

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 185 new COVID-19 cases today but, for the first time this week, reported no new hospitalizations or deaths.

Today's cases cap a record week for Humboldt County, with 1,113 cases confirmed, making 1,966 cases tallied so far this month — a number that accounts for 15.2 percent of the county's cumulative total through the 22-month duration of the pandemic. This week's cases surpass last week's record 853 and more than double any previous single-week high locally.

The current surge has been attributed to the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has been circulating locally at least since Dec. 19, and has sent case rates skyrocketing to unprecedented levels throughout the country.

And locally, the surge only seems to be accelerating as where the county confirmed an average of 122 new cases per day last week, the daily average has increased 23 percent to 159 new cases per day so far this week. Local officials, meanwhile, predict the current surge will reach its peak sometime in February.

While early data indicates the Omicron variant is less likely than prior iterations of the virus to result in severe illness, local hospitalization numbers — which generally trend 10 days to two weeks behind case trends — are already starting to tick up.

A state database shows 28 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally — up from 20 yesterday — with eight 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 climbed steadily since. Across the nation, the Omicron surge has hit hospitals hard, with an influx of COVID-19 patients needing care, healthcare workers being infected and patients coming into the hospital for non COVID care testing positive for the virus at high rates, forcing hospitals to follow labor-intensive protocols to prevent spread to other patients and staff.

Today's cases come after laboratories processed 654 samples with a test-positivity rate of 28.3 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 doubled, rising to 28.4 percent.

Over the past seven days, Humboldt County has confirmed 1,113 new cases, or approximately 117.7 per day per 100,000 residents, while recording a test-positivity rate of 27.6 percent. California, meanwhile, has confirmed an average of 231.9 new cases daily per 100,000 residents with a test-positivity rate of 22.9 percent, while the nation has seen an average of 255 new cases confirmed daily per 100,000 residents and a test-positivity rate of 26.2 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.

Public Health also reported today that, since Jan. 7, the county has recorded four COVID-19 deaths, three of unvaccinated residents and the fourth of someone whose vaccination status was unknown, and seven hospitalizations, including two fully vaccinated residents and five unvaccinated residents.

The county also reported that from June 5 through Jan. 2, 16 fully vaccinated residents have died of COVID-19 at an average of 79, while over the same period 48 unvaccinated residents have died of the disease at an average age of 67. Over the same period, Public Health reports that 56 fully vaccinated residents have been hospitalized at an average age of 74, while 244 unvaccinated residents were hospitalized at an average age of 58.

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Public Health reported Wednesday that nearly 63 percent of the county's total population is now fully vaccinated, with 71 percent of its vaccine eligible population — those 5 and older — fully vaccinated.

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 Tuesday saying that, due to the Omicron variant's "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 has modified local quarantine and isolation requirements, as the Journal reported earlier today.

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 been circulating in the county for 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.


All residents ages 12 and older are now eligible to receive vaccine boosters if it has been at least five months since they completed their primary vaccination series.

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.

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. — FULL
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.

Arcata — Wednesday, Jan. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
D Street Neighborhood Center (1301 D St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Hoopa — Thursday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hoopa Fire Hall (11121 Hwy 96)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment only at the Hoopa Fire Hall.
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Friday, Jan. 21, 1 to 8 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment on the lower floor of the Wharfinger Building.
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 12,733 with 491 hospitalizations and 128 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 63.3 million cases have been confirmed with 842,873
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 6.4 million cases and 76,940 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. 14, 2022 - No New Hospitalizations or Deaths
Humboldt County Public Health reported today 185 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 12,918 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus. No new deaths or hospitalizations were reported.

Since the last data update on Jan. 7, the county has recorded 1,113 new cases of COVID-19. Four deaths were reported during that period, three were unvaccinated and one whose vaccination status is unknown. Seven new hospitalizations of residents were also reported. Five were unvaccinated and two were fully vaccinated. Age ranges of reported hospitalizations in the seven-day period are as follows:

1 person in their 20s
1 person in their 50s
1 person in their 60s
3 people in their 70s
1 person aged 80 or older
The graphs below, which depict average weekly case rates and estimated weekly hospitalization and death rates in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated local residents, show that more severe outcomes from COVID-19 are higher among unvaccinated individuals.

For the reporting period between June 5, 2021, and Jan. 2, 2022, 16 fully vaccinated Humboldt County resident died from COVID-19. The average age of those deaths was 79. During that same period, 48 unvaccinated residents died from the virus. The average age of those deaths was 67. During that same period, 56 fully vaccinated residents were hospitalized with an average age of 74 and 244 unvaccinated individuals were hospitalized with an average age of 58.

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The graph above from data between June 5, 2021 and Jan. 2, 2022, illustrates the county’s current weekly hospitalization rate for fully vaccinated individuals is 0.2 per 100,000 while the rate for unvaccinated individuals is 11 times higher at 2.2 per 100,000. Over the past 10 weeks, both the hospitalization and mortality rates for unvaccinated individuals was approximately 11 times greater than those for fully vaccinated. View a more detailed depiction of the hospitalization and death rates graph.

The current seven-day average case rate in Humboldt County is approximately 81, meaning that for every 100,000 residents, approximately 81 tested positive daily over the last seven days. Case rates vary considerably by vaccination status, as illustrated in the graph below, which depicts average weekly case rates since February 2021 in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated residents.


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The most recent seven-day average case rate for the period ending Jan. 2 for fully vaccinated individuals is 84 per 100,000 residents, while the case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 58 per 100,000 residents. Despite increasing coronavirus infections among vaccinated people, experts say vaccines are still significantly reducing the risks of severe illness. "Just because you have a breakthrough infection doesn't mean the vaccine does not work and isn't giving you huge benefit,” Dr. Justin Lessler, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina. View a more detailed depiction of the case rate graph here.

The California Department of Public Health has updated its guidance on isolation and quarantine for workplace settings aimed at allowing certain vaccinated people to continue working under specific circumstances.

State health officials also recently expanded eligibility and are recommending boosters for 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 is monitoring a surge in cases that officials are attributing to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Officials continue to stress that residents, especially those who are unvaccinated, work 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.

Health officials are also reminding residents 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 greater than 8 times more likely to be hospitalized than those adults who are fully vaccinated. Locally, that number is currently 13 times higher for the period from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8.

The COVID-19 Joint Information Center (1-707-441-5000) will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. English and Spanish speaking call takers will resume regular operations on Tuesday to answer questions related to COVID-19 vaccination, testing and preventive measures. Questions emailed to covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us over the holiday will also be responded to on Tuesday.

OptumServe’s testing sites at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka and Azalea Hall in McKinleyville will be open during the holiday Monday. Appointments are required and can be made at lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123.

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.

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. — FULL
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.

Arcata — Wednesday, Jan. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
D Street Neighborhood Center (1301 D St.)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Hoopa — Thursday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hoopa Fire Hall (11121 Hwy 96)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment only at the Hoopa Fire Hall.
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Friday, Jan. 21, 1 to 8 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
No rapid testing available at this clinic. PCR testing offered through OptumServe by appointment on the lower floor of the Wharfinger Building.
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
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