In the year’s final “Media Availability” Q-and-A from the Humboldt County Joint Information Center, Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman answers questions about the new and apparently more contagious coronavirus variant, the rate at which vaccines are being administered in Humboldt and more.

Stay tuned for the end of the video to see Public Health staffers wish everyone a happy new year. 

Video above, rough transcription below. 


The North Coast News asks: “With news of a new coronavirus variant making its way from the UK to US, is the new variant being tested for in Humboldt County? Are current testing methods able to detect it, and if they are, will the county be releasing data on when the variant is discovered here?”

Yes, a really good question. Something that’s been on my mind a lot in the last few days. We know that this is not just in the U.S. It’s in California. There are reports from San Diego that there are four cases that have been detected there. It’s in several states across the U.S. so we are looking into testing locally for this.

There are tests available and so when I have updates on that I will let you know.

The North Coast News asks: “The Washington Post reported yesterday that about 20% of coronavirus vaccines distributed nationally have actually been administered. Do those numbers reflect Humboldt county as well? Why, or why not do the numbers differ?”

I would say our numbers here are likely much higher than that. Do we have about 5,500 vaccines in Humboldt County currently. The vast majority of those go to St. Joseph’s hospital system. They got just over 2,000 of those. And they’ve been administering those as quickly as they can.

They’re also running a hospital; they’re seeing the vast majority of the COVID patients in Humboldt County. They have gone through about 1,200 of those so over 50% of their 2,000.

Additionally, other hospitals have gone through several more thousands so I think it’s safe to say we’re very close to 50% of the vaccine that we have in the county having already been administered and we’re working hard to get through the rest of that as quickly as possible.

The North Coast News asks: “Are there local statistics on the impacts on mental health that the pandemic has caused?”

That’s a really great question. I have to say I don’t have the answer to that. I would suspect that the Department of Health and Human Services might and so I would direct the question to them.