Earlier today, Dr. Ian Hoffman, Humboldt’s public health officer, took questions from the Outpost on the next phase of vaccine rollout, the availability of monoclonal antibodies and whether the county has a working estimate of the number of county residents who have actually been infected with the virus.

Before that, though, Hoffman issued a quick clarification about testing for people who have been exposed to the virus. When should you quarantine? When should you isolate? And when should you get tested after quarantine or isolation?

Video above, rough transcript below.


Good morning, Dr. Hoffman. Would you care to address the community?

Yes, thank you.

So I’d like to take a minute today up front to talk about what it means to quarantine and isolate, and where testing comes into that. So quarantining process is where someone who has been identified as a contact of someone who has known COVID-19 is recommended to stay in their home, away from everyone else in society, for a period of 14 days. We did recently change that to allow for 10 days if you can’t quarantine for the full 10 days.

If someone is positive for COVID-19 they are recommended to isolate for 10 days, and that has not changed. That recommendation remains the same in Humboldt County as well as across the state of California. There is nothing you can do to change that 10-day isolation period. Re-testing does not shorten the period of time nor lengthen it. It stays at 10 days.

So we’ve been hearing concerns from the community that folks are going out and trying to get retested, that could potentially expose people who shouldn’t be exposed and don’t need to be exposed. If you’re in isolation, you had a COVID-19 positive test, you need to stay home, away from everyone else for those 10 days. So please don’t get retested, please stay home, and if you ever have any questions you can always go to our Humboldt Health Alert website or call the Joint Information Center to ask a question. If you have medical concerns, please call your medical provider. Thank you. 

From the Lost Coast Outpost: “Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that there is now an abundance of monoclonal antibody therapies available nationwide, largely because many doctors are reluctant to administer them and many patients are reluctant to accept them. Last month Dr. Ennis said that he expected it would be several weeks before Humboldt had access to these drugs. Do we have access to them now and are they being used?”

So we do have a very small, limited quantity of these medications in Humboldt County. The physicians who treat COVID-19 are aware of this, in fact they had a meeting earlier this week to discuss its use. The administration of them can be difficult and tricky and requires a special infusion center, something we don’t have here in Humboldt County, but we’re looking at ways to try to utilize the very small quantity that we do have with our partners in the hospitals and other treating physicians in the community.

From the Lost Coast Outpost: “Yesterday’s press release said as of today Humboldt County has been allotted 5,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna combined. At what point will these vaccines start being administered to non-healthcare workers?”

Yeah, so we are currently in Phase 1a of the vaccination process which is, you all have heard by now, is healthcare workers and residents of skilled nursing facilities. We are working with our community partners diligently right now to make sure that vaccine gets out as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.

1b has not completely been determined by the state, by CDPH, as to all of the different folks who will be in 1b. We have some early ideas of who that will be, which includes anyone age 75 or older, as well as a large number of non-healthcare, frontline workers which likely would include teachers, first responders, people who work in agriculture and industries that cannot distance, grocery store workers…

So there’s a lot of people in that and they’re really working right now to figure out where in those tiers of phase 1b each of those individuals will be. What we hear from the state right now is that there’s hopeful expectations that we could start moving into 1b in late January or early February. Of course these estimates are tied to vaccine production, distribution and and other concerns that could come up. So we will definitely keep everyone informed as we know more and that’s what we know about the process right now.

From the Lost Coast Outpost: “Do you have any estimate of the percentage of the county’s population that has been infected? One that includes both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases or diagnosed and undiagnosed cases?”

So we know what our total case count is in the county currently,   and if you take that number and divide it by the population it’s roughly or just over one percent. So those would be the definitively diagnosed patients who, both asymptomatic and symptomatic, got a PCR test confirming that they have COVID-19. There are many estimates of how many we miss, you know, roughly potentially five times that number. So we could say potentially upwards of five percent of Humboldt County has been infected with COVID-19 at this point, leaving the vast majority of us, you know with vulnerability and susceptibility to COVID-19.