Public Health Confirms 196 New COVID-19 Cases, Reports Three Hospitalizations

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Senior Laboratory Assistant Kylee Hee transfers prepared COVID-19 specimen samples to a refrigerator in the Humboldt County Public Health Lab. - SUBMITTED
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  • Senior Laboratory Assistant Kylee Hee transfers prepared COVID-19 specimen samples to a refrigerator in the Humboldt County Public Health Lab.

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 196 new COVID-19 cases today — making 1,779 for the week — as well as three new hospitalizations.

The new hospitalizations make 13 confirmed this week.

Today's report comes on the heels of a record 2,010 new cases confirmed last week and make 5,857 new cases confirmed so far in January — more than 34 percent of the county's cumulative case count through the 23-month duration of the pandemic. But for the first time this month, the weekly case count has decreased week over week, giving some hope the current case surge may be beginning to plateau. Local officials, meanwhile, have predicted the surge will reach its peak sometime in February.

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.

According to data released today from public health, over the week ending Jan. 23, unvaccinated residents tested positive this week at a rate of 97 per 100,000 county residents while fully vaccinated tested positive at a rate of 85 per 100,000 county residents. (It's worth noting here that 64 percent of the county's population is fully vaccinated.) Public Health also reported today that between May 30, 2021, and Jan. 16, 16 fully vaccinated residents died of COVID-19 at an average age of 79, while 52 unvaccinated residents died from the virus at an average age of 67. Over the same period, 63 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized locally due to the virus compared to 254 unvaccinated people, with the average age of hospitalized COVID-19 patients 15 years older for unvaccinated individuals than their fully vaccinated counterparts.

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 27 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally, with five under intensive care as of yesterday. The local hospital census peaked Sept. 3 with 42 COVID-19 patients but had fallen to nine patients Dec. 29. 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.

The federal government is providing four free at-home COVID tests per household to increase testing capacity in response to the recent surge in cases. These can be ordered online, free of charge, at www.COVIDTests.gov. Additionally, as of Jan. 15, federal law requires health insurers t cover the up-front costs of at-home COVID-19 tests purchased at pharmacies or other retailers.

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 reported yesterday that approximately 64 percent of the county's total population is now fully vaccinated, with 73 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 earlier this month 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, and reminded today that those who test positive for the virus and are symptomatic should isolate for at least five full days after the onset of symptoms. If a person is asymptomatic or has symptoms that are improving on day five, they can test and — if the test is negative — leave isolation beginning on day six, wearing a well-fitted mask around others for an additional five days. Anyone who still tests positive for the virus on the fifth day should continue to isolate for the entire 10-day period. (Read more on this in the press release below.)

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.

Eureka — Friday, Jan. 28, 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.

McKinleyville Family Clinic — Saturday, Jan. 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
McKinleyville High School (1300 Murray Road)
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.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 — Tuesday, Feb. 1, 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, Feb. 1, 1:15 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.) Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments required.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Feb. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Ages 12 and older
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.

Eureka — Wednesday, Feb. 2, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Humboldt County Agricultural Building (5630 S. Broadway St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Today's confirmed cases bring the county's total to 16,613 with 510 hospitalizations and 129 COVID-19 related deaths.

Nationwide, more than 73.5 million cases have been confirmed with 876,632
deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 7.7 million cases and 78,825 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. 28, 2022 - 3 New Hospitalizations, 196 New Cases
Humboldt County Public Health reported today three new hospitalizations due to COVID-19, a resident in their 30s, one in their 40s and another in their 60s. An additional 196 new cases were also reported, bringing to 16,809 the total number of residents who have tested positive for the virus.

Since the last data update on Jan. 21, the county has recorded 1,881 new cases of COVID-19. No new deaths were reported. Thirteen new hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were reported. Nine were unvaccinated, two were fully vaccinated and another two individuals’ vaccination status is unknown. Age ranges of reported hospitalizations in the seven-day period are as follows:

2 people in their 30s
1 person in their 40s
6 people in their 60s
4 people in their 70s
The graphs below, which depict average weekly case rates and weekly hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated local residents, show that more severe outcomes from COVID-19 are higher among unvaccinated individuals.

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As depicted in the graph above for the reporting period between May 30, 2021, and Jan. 16, 2022, 16 fully vaccinated Humboldt County resident died from COVID-19. The average age of those deaths was 79. During that same period, 52 unvaccinated residents died from the virus. The average age of those deaths was 67. During that same period, 63 fully vaccinated residents were hospitalizedwith an average age of 73 and 254 unvaccinated individuals were hospitalized with an average age of 58. View a more detailed depiction of the hospitalization and death rates graph here.

document2.jpg


The current seven-day average case rate in Humboldt County is approximately 115, meaning that for every 100,000 residents, approximately 115 tested positive daily over the last seven days. Case rates vary considerably by vaccination status, as illustrated in the graph above, which depicts average weekly case rates since January 2021 in unvaccinated and fully vaccinated residents.

The most recent seven-day average case rate for the period ending Jan. 23, for fully vaccinated individuals is 85 per 100,000 residents, while the case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 97 per 100,000 residents. View a more detailed depiction of the case rate graph here.

The COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to push record-high cases locally as the highly transmissible virus circulates widely in the community. The California Department of Public Health recommends individuals stay home and away from others and get tested if they become sick or experience COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue or muscle aches. COVID-19 symptoms often mimic common cold or flu illnesses.

Public Health officials are also continuing to recommend residents, particularly those who are not vaccinated, take preventative measures to reduce their risk of catching and spreading the virus. Residents are encouraged to wear a well-fitted mask approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in all indoor public spaces, distance six feet from others when possible and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

Vaccines have been approved and are recommended for those aged 5 and older and all eligible individuals aged 12 and older are recommended to receive a booster. While vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are both at high risk to get Omicron, fully vaccinated or boosted individuals typically develop milder symptoms, experience shorter illness duration and have fewer hospitalizations and less severe outcomes.

As always, Humboldt County’s vaccination and testing services are available free of charge. While walk-ins are allowed at all Public Health clinics and some pharmacy vaccination sites, appointments are strongly recommended for all vaccinations 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.

Eureka — Friday, Jan. 28, 1 to 8 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Ages 12 and older
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.

McKinleyville Family Clinic— Saturday, Jan. 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
McKinleyville High School (1300 Murray Road)
Ages 5 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Monday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.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 strongly recommended.

Eureka — Tuesday, Feb. 1, 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 strongly recommended.

Eureka Pediatric Clinic — Tuesday, Feb. 1, 1:15 to 4 p.m.
Public Health Main Office (529 I St.)
Ages 5 to 11
Pfizer only
No testing available
Appointments strongly recommended.

Willow Creek — Tuesday, Feb. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed from noon to 1 p.m.
Public Health Office (77 Walnut Way)
Ages 12 and older
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.

Eureka — Wednesday, Feb. 2, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Humboldt County Agricultural Building (5630 S. Broadway St.)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Blue Lake — Thursday, Feb. 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Blue Lake Resource Center (111 Greenwood Road)
Ages 12 and older
Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson/Moderna
PCR and rapid testing available on a first-come first-served basis
Appointments for vaccinations strongly recommended.

Eureka — Friday, Feb. 4, 1 to 8 p.m.
Wharfinger Building (1 Marina Way)
Ages 12 and older
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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