Dr. Ian Hoffman in this afternoon’s Zoom-based press conference.


In a press conference this afternoon, Dr. Ian Hoffman — Humboldt County’s public health officer — said that he will soon sign an order reinstituting a universal masking order in the county.

“We are announcing today a return to universal masking for Humboldt County,” Hoffman said. “I will be putting in a health order in the coming days that will go into effect at 12:01 am on Saturday, August 7th. This will be in effect for all people vaccinated and unvaccinated, and all public settings — indoor, and including outdoor, crowded, public settings and public events.”

At least 20 California counties have returned to mandatory masking after the latest surge in COVID cases and increased hospitalization rates, both driven by the rise of the virus’ Delta variant. 

Hoffman said the county will announce this afternoon that 82 new cases have been confirmed today — the highest-single day rise in COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, COVID-related hospital occupancy recently surged to 23 at Providence Health, which is higher than the last peak in January.  An otherwise healthy man in his 30s was killed by the disease earlier this week.

Dr. Roberta Luskin-Hawk — CEO of the local Providence Health Care group, which runs St. Joe’s and Redwood Memorial — said that the young man who died was otherwise healthy, and that his passing has hit the nursing staff at the hospital hard.

“According to the ICU nurses, who were quite distraught — he had no usual underlying diseases, no immunodeficiency, nothing else — and despite their best efforts, [he] died,” Luskin-Hawk said. 

Both doctors continued to urge vaccination as the quickest and surest route out of the current crisis. Though vaccinated people may sometimes — more rarely — contract the virus and spread it to others, vaccination is very strongly protective against severe disease and death.

“Vaccination is the key to ending this pandemic,” Hoffman said. “We need to get vaccination rates up in order to get out of this.”


CORRECTION: The post originally got its hospitalization numbers a bit mixed up. They’ve since been corrected.

Here’s the correct way to say it: A figure we cited — 23 patients hospitalized simultaneously recently — was offered by Dr. Luskin-Hawk at the press conference, and applies to Providence Health only. There were more than 23 people hospitalized simultaneously countywide back in January, and — according to Dr. Hoffman — there have been more than that hospitalized simultaneously, countywide, in recent weeks.


UPDATE: Full video of the press conference below: