A recent jump in local cases of COVID-1
Routine genomic sequencing first identified variant B.1.1.7 locally at the end of last month, and eight more cases have been identified so far. Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman noted that this option probably circulated widely in the community before it was discovered.
“Our recent increase in cases shows how contagious this option is,” Dr Hoffman said, adding that it is thought to be the engine of significant outbreaks locally and across the country, most recently in Oregon and Michigan. “Until now, older people have experienced the worst effects of COVID, but now we are seeing younger people getting sick and younger people being hospitalized.”
Dr Hoffman said there was a rapid increase in hospital admissions in the county, which is thought to be due to the option. Seventeen people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at one point last week, including several who were relocated outside the county and several who were younger than those previously hospitalized, including one child in the 10-19 age group.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that option B.1.1.7 is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. This option is associated with a 50% increase in virus transmission and potentially leads to more serious diseases, as well as hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated people.
Although further studies are needed, data from manufacturers show that vaccines are very effective in preventing serious illness and death from variants of COVID-19.
Genomic sequencing also found a single case of variant P.1, sometimes called the Brazilian variant. This case was first diagnosed in mid-April and was acquired through a trip outside the county. Dr Hoffman said he did not appear to have spread beyond the original case. “This individual followed the isolation instructions when he returned to Humboldt and the tracking contacts did not identify other local contacts,” he said. “This shows why travel is still risky and that public health measures can help limit cases where they are closely monitored.”
More cases of option B.1.1.7 are expected when the results of additional genomic sequencing are returned in the coming weeks, but Dr Hoffman called on the community to take action now. “Vaccination is the most effective tool we need to stop this disease, and now is the time to get vaccinated. “Make sure you get both photos from a series of two doses to have the greatest possible protection,” he said.
“Given how easily this option is spreading, we still need to wear masks in public, keep our distance and do our best to avoid large gatherings, especially indoors, until more of us are vaccinated.” said Dr. Hoffman. “Engaging in these safety measures as a community gives us the best chance to control this outbreak and protect our friends and neighbors from serious illness.”
Schedule an appointment at a public health vaccination clinic through MyTurn.ca.gov or through a local vaccine pharmacy.
For the latest information on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 707-441-5000.
Some sites Safeway, CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Walgreen’s and Walmart offer vaccinations for vaccination against COVID-19. See if there are appointments in one of these places by clicking on the links below.