More than 14 months after our first confirmed case of COVID-19, Humboldt County has been infiltrated by a more dangerous and infectious variant of the new coronavirus known as B117, and in its latest update to the Board of Supervisors, Humboldt County Health Officer Ian Hoffman said that while cases remain well below their peak locally, the number of hospitalizations at the end of April “rivals the worst weeks of the Humboldt County pandemic – with those who are younger and healthier. they get sick. “
This threatening variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, has quickly become the dominant strain in the United States, according to the CDC. Speaking through Zoom, Hoffman said B117 is about 50 percent more contagious than previous strains and is hitting harder.
“We know that it causes a more serious illness in younger and healthier people, with our current hospitalizations and admission to the intensive care unit. [among a] much younger demographically than in the past, ”he said. This trend includes the first hospitalization of a local child.
The recent “over-spread event” involving Eureka, the Pentecostal church, has been the source of about 60 recent infections – with about 60 more cases indirectly – but it still doesn’t fully reflect the drastic rise in cases over the past two weeks.
“So we know that B117 is everywhere in Humboldt County and is very likely the most dominant strain locally,” Hoffman said. “And it will be the engine of infections in the coming weeks and months, until another, potentially more infectious strain emerges to replace it.”
During this latest outbreak, Humboldt County infection rates rose from just two per 100,000 to 13 per 100,000, and test positives tripled, from two percent to six percent, according to Hoffman. (The last number dropped slightly to 5.3% on Monday.)
Need another indication that B117 should not be confused? “We had to transfer more patients from Humboldt in the previous two weeks – because of them [symptom] burden or lack of resources to care for them in our county – than at any time during a pandemic, ”Hoffman said.
Is there any good news, you ask? Well, fortunately, the same precautions we’ve heard about nausea – hand washing, social distancing, facial coverings and, last but not least, vaccination – still working against the vile B117. The problem is that local demand for vaccines is evaporating. Huffman, meanwhile, said: “We’ve seen a decrease in the desire to be tested by many in this leap, and it’s hurting our county.”
High levels of testing in the midst of a local pandemic have allowed public health workers to monitor and isolate new outbreaks and then quake them with quarantine protections before spreading too far. Recently, only those with the most severe symptoms have been bothered to be tested, so the virus is spread through people with mild or no symptoms, according to Hoffman. He called on people to be proactive.
“I strongly encourage anyone who thinks they have been exposed [or who] they have even the mildest symptoms, please get tested, ”he said. “Do this for your family, for your colleagues, for your community. There are too many people in the hospital at the moment who could avoid hospitalization … ”
Nearly 40 percent of the county’s residents aged 16 and over are already fully vaccinated, Hoffman said, but that still leaves the majority either unprotected or not fully protected, despite enough to inoculate anyone who wants their stroke. Hoffman encouraged anyone with questions about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, along with those who need help arranging a meeting, to call the County Joint Information Center at 707-441-5000.
Reminder: You are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson or your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Hoffman, as before, emphasized the liberation that comes with full vaccination – “things like feeling free to visit your vaccinated friends indoors and outdoors without a mask, without distancing and without worrying that you could get seriously ill with COVID- 19, ”he said.
You can also visit a household with low-risk people who are still unvaccinated without worrying about exposing them to the virus, which allows you to “hug, hug, sing together [and] break bread together, “he added.
By preparing the FDA to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-15 age group, Hoffman encouraged parents to vaccinate their children as soon as it became available to them.
“We still hope that Humboldt is heading for a great summer filled with COVID-safe events that will be done with precautions to protect the vulnerable – precautions such as masking, distancing, reduced capacity, testing and vaccination.” Hoffman said. He and his staff hope that the current tide will pay off and may begin to decline in the coming weeks.
In the Questions and Answers that followed Hoffman’s presentation, First District Superintendent Rex Bon raised hesitation about the local vaccine, saying he received 20 emails a day for alleged reasons. no to get a shot.
– One [email] he said he would start eating my insides in three to four years, ”Bonn said. “There’s so much misinformation out there.”
He also suggested that locals would not tolerate a return to a more restrictive level in the country’s color-coded plan for a safer economy. (Humboldt is currently in the orange level.)
“I personally say that if we return to the level, you will rise in a revolt like you have never seen before,” Bonn warned.
Hoffman said that while misinformation is certainly a problem, he believes that other factors – such as financial and logistical barriers or reluctance to visit mass vaccination clinics – play a greater role. But he also explained the protocol: “The vaccine is safe. It’s effective. “
Public Health Director Michelle Stevens said people who are hesitant for some reason are more likely to listen to their loved ones than any other source, so she encouraged people to talk to friends and family, listen to their thoughts and direct them to factual information.
Not much important happened during today’s meeting, unless you count the technical problems at the outset – gratuitous lag and freezing in the digital stream of the county, which caused almost an hour delay while the IT department tried to solve the problems.
Here are a few more items the board heard:
- The board heard a brief presentation by staff at the Six Rivers National Forest of the Capitol Christmas Tree Project in the United States, which will see a local coniferous tree cut down and pulled for a cross to place uletide on the west lawn of the Capitol building, along with up to 130 accompanying trees for the offices of scum.
- Planning and Construction Director John Ford asked the board to approve a grant application for the second of three rounds of coronavirus funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The county could apply for $ 1,104,668, and Ford said the money would go to two projects – adding an elevator to The Humboldt Inn, homeless and supportive housing in Eureka, and adding sidewalks to the Redwoods Village Health Center campus in Redway. which would facilitate unrestricted medical services, including Covid-19 testing and vaccinations. The Council unanimously approved the submission of an application for a grant.