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Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Terea Frankovich has become a familiar face over the past month. Again today she sat down to record a video answering questions from local media Below is a summary of those questions and her responses.
What steps should people without primary care providers take to get tested for COVID-19? (0:12)
Any such folks who are concerned and symptomatic can contact the county’s Joint Information Center at 441-5000 for advice.
Have the county’s three reported hospitalizations been the same three patients over recent weeks? Are any on ventilators? (0:48)
The “hospitalizations” tally represents people who were hospitalized at some point in their treatment, not those who are currently hospitalized, Frankovich says. And the county does not comment on anybody’s particular health status.
How many health care workers and first responders have been tested in Humboldt, and now many of those came back positive? (1:17)
So far, the county has not had enough testing capacity to screen asymptomatic workers, “although this is something we’re working very hard to get in place,” Frankovich says.
Many people rely on religious groups and 12-step programs to maintain sobriety, and some don’t have access to Zoom technology, which has allowed for remote meetings. When might such programs be allowed to reopen? (2:08)
This is an important piece of our community that we’ve lost during the shutdown, Frankovich acknowledges, and as the county begins to move out of shelter-in-place (a process that can’t even begin until after Gov. Newsom lifts or loosens the statewide order) such small groups and one-on-one interactions may begin to be allowed again.
Local test results from private labs are coming in at a quarter of the rate of a few weeks ago. How many local tests have been submitted but are awaiting results? (3:44)
Such things were easier for the county to report when Quest and LabCorp were the only corporations providing private tests, Frankovich says, but there are more and more point-of-care tests being done in provider offices as well as more commercial labs offering testing. So the county’s tally of test done outside Public Health “is just clearly going to become increasingly [pause] inaccurate,” she says. The hope is that testing will become more standardized, making the results (especially negative results) more reliable.
State data appears to show 53 cases in Humboldt, whereas the local tally is 52. Why the discrepancy? (6:00)
Someone who was tested had an inaccurate address and thus got geographically misidentified in the state system, Frankovich says.
Why would county officials begin to open up more government offices and essential businesses, as Sheriff Honsal has proposed, when we know the virus is circulating in our community? (6:46)
“It’s a good question, but as we look forward we know we can’t sit where we are forever,” Frankovich says. Yes, more freedom will result in more community transmission, which is why the county is working hard to be ready to respond to new cases, she adds.
Does the county’s mandatory face-covering order mean we’re close to reopening? If so, is there a target date in mind? (8:07)
Face coverings are another tool to decrease transmissions in the community, Frankovich says, but no timeline for reopening has been established.
Is Public Health concerned that the number of COVID cases will go up as the economy reopens? (9:12)
Is the county easing shelter-in-place restrictions because we’ve passed our peak for positive cases? And is the county prepared to do widespread community testing? (9:47)
“We have not had a peak, as we understand peak and surge,” Frankovich says. There was a group of cases over a two-week period here, mostly related to travel or contact, and that rapidly increased our numbers. But “surge” and “peak” are determined over weeks and months.
State models, based on info from Johns Hopkins University, show that Humboldt County could see 40 deaths and 170 hospitalizations by June 1. What can you say about that model? (10:49)
Complicated issue, she says. Most modeling shows either what may happen if all restrictions were lifted and what may happen if those restrictions are left in place. Officials will talk about that data in detail during Thursday night’s live broadcast.
Does the county have resources available for people who cannot afford a mask and don’t have the means to make one? What about people who are disabled and don’t have the means to apply a mask? (11:45)
The order is for facial coverings, not specifically masks, Frankovich says. So scarves and other cloth coverings comply. Exceptions could be made on a case-by-case basis for folks who, for example, have medical conditions and may not be able to tolerate facial coverings.
The county’s mask order said those with one-way valves don’t comply, yet yesterday’s press release listed retailers offering such masks. (12:52)
Valve masks can be a problem because they don’t prevent exhalation of droplets that may infect others, Frankovich says. The safest thing is to use masks that aren’t valved.