As Coronavirus Fears Near, Shelter in Place Gains Importance

Fiona Murphy, Editor-in-Chief

March 26th, 2020

To many in Humboldt, the novel coronavirus seems far away; the county seems, as it usually does, isolated. But things change quickly with coronavirus, and a Nohum student experienced that change firsthand. 

In late February Mad River High student Jon Swanson was in Roseville when someone he was staying with started to feel sick. She had a fever and dry cough, Swanson explained later. The illness made the rounds. When, on March 4th, one of the family members had trouble breathing, she went to the hospital. At first, she were not tested but eventually she was, and tested positive, but a second test was negative and she was sent home. 

Despite inconclusive results, the family and Swanson proceeded to quarantine themselves. That was three weeks ago. Since then, Swanson has watched Placer County, where Roseville is located, transition. 

“When I first got here it didn’t seem like much, but as testing got more available to the public the seriousness of the whole ordeal was highlighted,” he explained. 

Placer County now has 30 confirmed cases of coronavirus and one death as of March 25th. To put that in perspective, the Lost Coast Outpost reported that Humboldt County has 24 ventilators and 26 ICU beds. 

“It happened really fast,” Swanson said, “It felt like within a week everyone was afraid to go outside.”

One person following social distancing can and will save lives.
Marisa Mendosa/Pepperbox

In one day, Humboldt County confirmed three more cases, more than doubling the previous count. The next day, five more people tested positive, once again doubling the number. As the number of cases increase, so does the amount of known exposure. Two recent cases were confirmed after the people had traveled with a group. Three flights, two into Arcata and one into Medford have possible exposure. 

More cases and more possible exposure also calls to attention just who is getting tested. Humboldt County Public Health Officer Doctor Teresa Frankovich explained the testing criteria in a video earlier this week. 

Individuals who are either high risk by their exposure, for instance through a contact or through travel. Those who have a high risk occupation, such as healthcare workers or first responders,” she explained.

She went on to say that people with higher risk factors or live in places such as long term care facilities are also prioritized. 

As cases increase in Humboldt so does the importance of sheltering in place. As Swanson said, things change very quickly. Recently a haunting video by The Atlantic from Italy explained this. People were asked to send a message to themselves ten days ago and the common thread was “take this seriously.” One woman explained that the worst she could have imagined was happening. 

Now, more than ever, our actions have consequences. Taking this seriously, staying home, staying away from other people can save lives. You can help prevent our healthcare workers from the burden of deciding who gets one of the 24 ventilators and who is left behind.