Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich is back today to answer more corona-questions from local media. She begins today’s clip by addressing the recent rise of COVID cases in Hoopa. Public health has a good working relationship with the tribe, Frankovich says, and the two entities have been working together on contact tracing to help limit the spread there.
Now onto the Q&A — LoCO will include a brief summary of Dr. Frankovich’s answers. Watch the video for more:
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(1:34) The Two Rivers Tribune asks: There is currently an increase in cases in Hoopa (24 active cases currently). Can you explain how Hoopa’s numbers are reported and how those numbers are integrated into the County’s daily numbers? Are Hoopa’s numbers being contact-traced by the County? Are they community spread cases?
“Hoopa residents are Humboldt County residents and they are represented in our case counts,” Frankovich says, but there can be a bit of a time lag in the tallies.
(3:10) The North Coast News asks: A widely cited University of Washington model predicts U.S. deaths from COVID-19 will reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1. The forecast of 295,011 deaths is 137,000 more than the roughly 158,000 U.S. deaths reported so far. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model assumes that many states will impose new stay-at-home orders as deaths climb. Is Humboldt County at risk of another Shelter-in-Place order before year’s end?
“It is entirely possible that at any point during this pandemic we may need to step back either at a statewide level or a local level,” Frankovich says, which is why it’s important to wear masks and limit travel.
(4:55) The North Coast News asks: California has stopped removing or adding to a list of counties facing more restrictions on businesses and schools as it tries to resolve a technical problem with the state’s coronavirus testing database, health officials said Wednesday. The state has recorded a highest-in-the-nation 525,000 positive tests. But California health officials say the true number is even higher. They don’t know how much so until they can add backlogged testing data and fix the problem with the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE). Has the incomplete data hampered public health officials’ ability in Humboldt to follow up with those who test positive and contact people who have been around them to limit the spread?
Frankovich acknowledges the data glitches that have occurred at the state level. As far as the impact of those snags on the work being done in Humboldt, “We’re in a little better position in some places than the state. We do a lot of our testing in our internal lab and we have access to those results and numbers immediately.”
(7:51) The North Coast News asks: It was reported yesterday that a Georgia second grader tested positive for COVID-19 just one day after starting school. Are you concerned about the possibility of this happening in Humboldt when some schools reopen for in-person instruction?
“It’s very difficult to compare what might happen here to a place where they’re operating with a very different plan in place,” Frankovich says, adding that local schools have been working very hard to adhere to the guidance put forth by the California Department of Public Health. But even with good masking and social distancing standards, it’s impossible to fully safeguard schools.
“We will have cases of COVID in school if we have on-site instruction,” she says.
(10:04) The North Coast News asks: In the Georgia case, the student’s teacher and 20 other students in the class must quarantine for two weeks and then return to virtual learning, the school district said. Do school reopenings make things more challenging for the health department as far as containing and tracking the virus?
(11:13) A reporter from the Redheaded Blackbelt asks: Will the surge in cases this week in Hoopa push the County onto the State’s watchlist?
Frankovich stresses that there are other areas of concern besides Hoopa, but says the numbers to look at in regards to the California watchlist are the cases per 100,000 and the testing positivity rate. “So far we’ve been able to keep [the positivity rate] at a reasonable number but, as we’ve seen in other counties, outbreaks of a significant size can change that dramatically,” Frankovich says. “So we’ll be watching the data carefully to see.”
(12:00) A reporter from the Redheaded Blackbelt asks: Hoopa has been restricting non resident’s movement on their reservation out of concerns for their elders in particular. But recently there were cannabis eradication operations and fire crews brought in to deal with the Red Salmon Complex. Has there been any indication of connections from these incidents to this recent surge?
“Not that I’m aware of,” Frankovich says.
(12:28) The Lost Coast Outpost asks: To what degree are promising drugs or therapies like remdesivir, dexamethasone or convalescent plasma available in Humboldt County? Are they being used here?
“Those are all therapies that are available to patients here in Humboldt County at this time,” Frankovich is pleased to announce. While their effectiveness remains to be seen, “it’s an excellent benefit to our residents to have that available.”
(13:07) The Lost Coast Outpost asks: We’ve seen big, white dining tents outside some restaurants. They appear to be mostly enclosed. Are there Public Health guidelines for such structures?
“There definitely are.” Restaurants offering outside dining are not supposed to have enclosed structures. “You can basically have one side and that’s it,” Frankovich says. The county has been reaching out to locations where potential violations have been noted to ensure that those businesses know the rules.