Humboldt County Public Health reported today that it has confirmed 9 new COVID-19 cases since Friday after laboratories processed 564 samples with a test-positivity rate of 1.6 percent.
The new cases bring the county’s cumulative case count to 3,501.
Friday, Public Health reported that the state would allocate 4,640 vaccine doses to the county this week — more than 2,200 fewer than were received the prior week.
In a press release earlier Friday, county officials noted that the number of local residents getting tested for COVID-19 has dropped “considerably” in recent months. This is worrisome, they said, because testing is critical for identifying and limiting the spread of disease in the community. Public Health Clinic and Communicable Disease Program Supervisor Have Phillips said the concern is that a vaccine-resistant variant will develop and spread “before we are able to get it under control.”
“Viruses mutate easily, and if the mutations are significant enough, they can create a new variant,” she said, explaining that each person with COVID-19 may have viruses with a few different mutations. “But if people know they are sick and stay isolated, then none of those mutations have the chance to spread to anyone else, and the chance for a new variant decreases. … When people don’t get tested it takes longer to identify that new variants are spreading, which slows down research and response.”
Public Health reported last week that 57,326 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Humboldt County, with 22,365 residents — almost 20 percent of the local population over the age of 16 — fully vaccinated.
Nearly 60 percent of county residents over the age of 75 are fully vaccinated, the county reported today as vaccine eligibility was opened to include all residents age 50 and older, and those 16 to 64 with underlying health issues that make them at higher risk of critical outcomes.
When the state of California updated its COVID-19 risk tiers last week, it kept Humboldt County in the red “substantial” tier, meaning restaurants, movie theaters, churches and other organizations are allowed to continue limited indoor operations.
Data shows the county with a seven-day average test-positivity rate of 2.2 percent and a daily case rate of 4.6 per 100,000, both of which decreased slightly from the previous week. California as a whole, meanwhile, has a 1.8 percent test-positivity rate and 4.8 cases per 100,000.
On March 29, the county recorded its 36th COVID-related death and its second in three days, bringing the virus’ local death toll to 36.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced last month that California will open up vaccination eligibility to those age 16 and older beginning April 15, based on an expected increase in vaccination supply. County health officials, however, warned that a “significant increase in supply” would be necessary to begin vaccinating all residents over the age of 16.
Vaccination clinics remain by appointment only and residents are urged to fill out a vaccine interest form so they can be notified when they are eligible.
The state has also announced that beginning April 2 outdoor sports events and live performances will be cleared to reopen with fans and spectators, so long as facial coverings are worn at all times, venues follow tier-based capacity restrictions and provide reserved, assigned seating. (Read more here.)
Currently, local residents over the age of 50, healthcare workers, teachers, first responders, food and agricultural workers, and residents ages 16 to 65 with one of a specific list of high-risk medical conditions or disabilities are eligible to receive their shots, with the first vaccine clinic for the food and ag sector set for next week. The clinics remain by invitation only to control exposure risks and ensure vaccinations are administered according to the county’s priority tiers, with residents urged to complete the county’s vaccination interest form to be notified when they are eligible.
Residents are also urged to continue to follow COVID safety guidelines as vaccinations roll out, which could take months.
To date, Humboldt County has confirmed 3,501 cases, with 135 hospitalizations and 36 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths.
The county dashboard lists 3,417 people as having “recovered” from the virus locally, though that just means they are no longer contagious 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.
Nationwide, more than 30.5 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, with 554,064 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In California, 3.6 million cases have been confirmed with 58,534 deaths, according to the Department of Public Health.
The state has issued a travel advisory strongly discouraging all non-essential travel and urging anyone returning from non essential, out-of-state travel needs to self-quarantine for a minimum of 10 days upon their return.
Meanwhile, the county’s Joint Information Center is urging locals to get tested, calling it “one of the most helpful things county residents can do for the community at large,” because it allows Public Health to catch cases early and limit spread. The state-run OptumServe testing site at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka is open seven days a week and no-cost appointments can be made by clicking here or calling (888) 634-1123.
The Humboldt County Data Dashboard includes hospitalization rates by age group, death rates by age group and case totals by ZIP code, the latter of which are reported in “a range of 0 to 5 for case count until the area surpasses 5 total cases,” according to the county. After that threshold has been reached in a ZIP code, the exact number will be included.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at (707) 441-5000. Residents seeking medical advice or questions about testing are asked to contact Public Health at email@example.com 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.
Read the county release below:
Public Health: CDPH Travel Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People
Humboldt County Public Health will follow guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which updated its Travel Advisory Friday to address fully vaccinated people, while continuing to advise those who are not fully vaccinated to delay travel.
According to the CDPH, fully vaccinated travelers:
are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, and can travel safely within the United States and California
should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel guidance and are not required to test or quarantine before or after travel within the United States unless they have symptoms concerning for COVID-19 disease.
CDPH has dropped its previous recommendation not to travel more than 120 miles from home. Instead it has offered new recommendations for non-essential travel of unvaccinated Californians who leave the state, which include testing before and after travel and quarantining upon returning home.
Read the CDPH Travel Advisory here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Travel-Advisory.aspx.
For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 707-441-5000.
Some Safeway, CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid and Walgreen’s locations are offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Learn who is eligible for vaccination and see if there are appointments available for your age group or sector at one of these locations by clicking on the links below.
CVS Pharmacy: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine?icid=cvs-home-hero1-link2-coronavirus-vaccine
Rite Aid: https://www.riteaid.com/covid-19
Local COVID-19 vaccine information: humboldtgov.org/VaccineInfo
Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/Dashboard
Follow us on Facebook: @HumCoCOVID19
Humboldt Health Alert: humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert