COVID-19 Update: We Are Not Out of the Woods Yet

Lila Cohen, Co-Web Editor

5th March, 2021

As we pass the marker of one year in this global COVID-19 pandemic, there is a general feeling that we are doing better than before with 5.42 percent of Humboldt’s population now vaccinated. Although this is very exciting for all of us hoping to get back to our pre-COVID lives, this is a reminder that we are not out of this pandemic yet. Humboldt County has recently changed to the Red Tier 2 (Substantial) and on average we are reporting 16 new cases per day since February 23 according to Humboldt County statistics.

Although 16 cases per day might not seem like a lot compared to what we were experiencing in January, the numbers are very erratic and have been spiking to 50 cases then dipping down to ten because of the bottleneck in Humboldt County testing. The issue of bottleneck testing refers to the fact that there are so many tests being taken and sent to labs to the point that they are just lying around waiting to be processed. This can mean that some residents are experiencing extended delays of four to five days for a positive Covid test to show up in our statistics, and it can also explain the unusual groupings of 50 cases reported one day then ten the next.

Humboldt County’s cases spiked in early January but have now decreased as we move down to Red Tier according to Humboldt County Joint Information Center. (Graph created by Lila Cohen)

Up to this point, Humboldt County has been lucky to be one of the minority counties that have been reporting limited hospitalizations and deaths. However, Friday, February 6, we saw 14 new hospitalizations, leaving us with only 14.3% ICU bed availability, which still leaves us with a higher capacity than the state average ICU availability of 13.6%. However, it is important to remember that as a small county, local hospitals could be easily overwhelmed with only a few more critical cases. 

“We have a level of disease circulating right now that compromises our ability to conserve our hospital beds and ultimately protect the vulnerable,” Humboldt County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Josh Ennis explained. Of those new cases and throughout the pandemic in Humboldt, we have seen the highest concentration of positive cases to be residents around age 20. Young people can often feel untouchable, but it is vital that we remember that even when your own chances of showing severe symptoms might seem low, you have the potential to expose someone more vulnerable in our families or the larger community. Additionally, nurses, specifically ICU and COVID nurses, are on the front lines paying the price for our careless decisions. “It’s time for all of us to step up and connect our everyday actions to life real-life consequences,” Dr. Ennis instructed. “Wearing face coverings saves lives and mitigates spread,” Governor Newsom added in a separate press conference. By wearing masks and mindfully social distancing, we are doing our share to protect our family and community and lessening the risk for frontline workers and nurses. So please, wear a mask. The pandemic is not over, but there is hope on the horizon.