As is routine now, Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich set aside part of her Wednesday to take questions from local media. Hear her answers in full in the clip above, or scroll down for some time-stamped synopses of today’s queries.
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(0:10) The Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use authorizations for several dozen molecular COVID-19 tests. Which one is Humboldt’s public health lab using?
The county has been using a CDC-distributed RT-PCR test that Dr. Frankovich says is among “the most highly sensitive tests” available.
“It really is one of the gold standards,” Frankovich said.
(0:42) Is it possible to get a percentage breakdown of the symptoms exhibited by confirmed COVID-19 patients? (e.g. How many people experienced a dry cough? Fever? etc.)
Frankovich said that they do collect symptoms data from COVID-19 patients. She will check with the county’s epidemiologist and see if they can periodically release that information.
(1:20) Of Humboldt’s active cases, how many are asymptomatic, how many are isolating at home and how many are in the hospital?
Frankovich said people are welcome to look at the regularly released numbers of “Active” and “Recovered” patients but that she would not comment on who was currently in the hospital.
(2:28) Where are the COVID-positive Alder Bay residents and homeless people quarantining?
Residents of assisted living facilities with COVID-19 are isolated in their quarters and have limited interactions with staff. The county has set up a lodging facility for COVID-positive homeless individuals.
(3:40) Are you concerned about further COVID spread at Alder Bay and, if so, what measures are being taken to monitor the facility?
Outbreaks in assisted living facilities have been seen throughout the state. Frankovich says the county has been working with California Department of Public Health on how best to handle those type of cases.
(4:29) Could Humboldt first COVID-related deaths impact our reopening efforts?
“No single piece of data dictates us moving forward,” Frankovich said. While the deaths are sobering, we should look at things like our hospital capacity and our ability to contact trace as we decide how to proceed.
(5:10) People continue to be asked to shelter in place while non-essential businesses are being allowed to open up. Is this a contradiction?
“While we recognize the need to get some businesses open we are asking people to still not spend the kind of time outside their home … that they might’ve enjoyed before. We’ll get there, we’re just not there yet,” Frankovich said.
(6:31) If masked people are allowed to go to non-essential businesses, why not allow them to attend support groups that could help their mental health?
While Frankovich sees the benefit in people meeting, the fact remains that “increasing our group sizes increases exposures.” The state has yet to issue guidelines about how many people can meet outside of their households but hopefully these are restrictions that can be eased soon.
(7:28) Why do you believe it is not in the public’s best interest for casinos to open right now?
Even if precautions are taken, large gatherings increase the chances for COVID-19’s transmission, Frankovich said. “You cannot get away from the fact that we’re pulling large numbers of people into a common space indoors for extended periods of time.”