When asked about the irregular methods Humboldt County people are using to get vaccine — showing up at a hospital and waiting in line without an appointment, for example, or scoring a dubious appointment through a friend — Dr. Ian Hoffman, Humboldt County’s health officer, said that Public Health is not in the business of policing whether or not local providers are following his own guidelines about who should be vaccinated at this stage of the pandemic and who should not yet be. 

“Certainly some individuals are going to extreme measures to get vaccinated out of order,” Hoffman said. “We’ve said often that’s we’re not going to try to police that to a degree that slows down this process.”

That, plus questions on variants, the county’s new vaccination statistics, the return of sports, and opening up to people with co-morbidities — we still don’t have enough supply for that, Hoffman says — in today’s media availability.

Video above, rough transcript below.


From the Times-Standard: The number of total doses administered is 26,789 on the county’s dashboard but the number of individuals fully and partially partially vaccinated only adds up to 19,415. Can you explain the discrepancy?

Sure, we’ve put on a dashboard that the number of individuals who are either partially or fully vaccinated. So if you take the individuals who are fully vaccinated, they receive two doses, so you’d have to multiply that number by two and add the two numbers together, you’ll come up with the full number.

From the Times-Standard: Does the county know if any residents of skilled nursing facilities still need to be vaccinated?

Yeah, the skilled nursing facilities have mostly gone through the first two rounds of the partnership, the CDC partnership, the third round for many of them are coming up this week, so that will be their last visit, so there are some folks who are going to get their first shot in that last visit, and then we’re working with the skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities for a long-term plan of continuing to vaccinate any new residents who come in and need to be vaccinated.

From the Times-Standard: Is the county making any safety recommendations for spectators and outdoor prep sports events now that team sports have been allowed to resume? So spectators are not allowed at any events for youth or adults.

What is allowed for the youth sports are age appropriate supervision, so an adult or potentially multiple adults depending on the situation and the age, who could be there obviously to supervise the the youth, but also transport them, be there in case of an injury something like that, so we’re working closely with HCOE and Humboldt-Del Norte League to you know define what that age appropriate supervision is and also I’m looking for clarification from CDPH for more specifics on that.

From the Times-Standard: With athletes in high contact sports required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly, is the county helping schools or HDNL participants acquire testing kits?

Which agencies are responsible for acquiring testing kits for high schools and their athletes? So we’ve been working closely with HCOE for testing in the schools and that testing can also be extended to athletes at those schools.

There are also potentials for athletes to get tested through Optum site at Redwood Acres, they could go to their private physician and there are two different types of tests that can be offered.

There’s the PCR test, we’re also working with HCOE to implement antigen testing for schools and then potentially for athletes as well.

From the Times-Standard: How long have HSU athletics and the county been planning for their return to competition? How did HSU and the county collaborate on developing the athletic department’s return to participation process?

So collegiate athletics is governed by NCAA and they have a set of regulations similar to the way CDPH has put forth regulations for youth and adult recreational sports, so HSU has you know reviewed those and submitted a plan to Public Health for our review and we collaborated and discussed those and so it’s been a collaborative process.

From the Times-Standard: Is the county helping HSU obtain testing kits for its frequent testing requirements?

Yes we are supporting HSU in their testing.

From the Times-Standard: The dashboard currently states 3,151 is the total number of Humboldt County residents who have tested positive for the virus. Are there any residents who have contracted COVID-19 more than once?

We’re not aware of anyone who’s contracted COVID more than once in Humboldt County. There are very rare cases of this across the the globe. There are a few people who’ve tested positive twice within a 90-day period but didn’t have a re-infection and those are removed from the count.

From reporter Daniel Mintz: How likely do you think it is that the variant with the L452R mutation will be categorized as a variant of concern?

I think more studies needed to determine that and so currently it remains as a variant of interest.

From reporter Daniel Mintz: What is the scale of testing at this point?

We definitely know testing’s down both here in Humboldt County and statewide. We have the capacity to test much much more, so continue to encourage people to get tested and utilize that testing ability so that we can you know stay safe and hopefully continue to stay in less restrictive tiers.

From the Redwood News: You’ve mentioned before that the next group eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine includes food and agriculture workers. Can you go into detail about who exactly falls into this category locally? Does this include grocery store workers, restaurant workers? Also are you able to give the community any update on when that phase is expected to open up?

So yes, all those people mentioned fall into the food and agriculture workers, it also includes the production side, so people who produce food you know both on a farm or in a warehouse, large scale kitchens, there’s a huge, it runs the gamut.

I think that just like every phase that we’ve opened and how we open it, it will depend entirely on the amount of vaccine that we have, so we’re hopeful that with Johnson and Johnson coming in the coming weeks that we could see an expansion of the number of vaccines that we’re getting each week.

We also know that the federal government has continued to promise to send more. It looks like that is actually starting to happen in the next few weeks, so when we have enough vaccine we’ll open up to more tiers.

From the Redwood News: The state has released guidance about opening up vaccine eligibility to people 16 to 64 years old with certain medical conditions starting March 15th. How exactly will this guidance be implemented locally? Does the county have enough supply or anticipate having enough supply to open up vaccinations to this larger group of people starting on that date?

I think it’s unlikely that we will have enough to cover everyone by the middle of March, so it’ll be you know how it’s continued to be, which is when we open up to one group we, you know, understand that there will be a waiting period for for some of those people. But as it’s been the whole time we have to you know sort of time these openings so that we don’t have too small of an eligibility pool, that we have vaccine appointments that go unfilled, and and balance that with you know keeping the field broad enough that those people can get, or sorry, narrow enough that those people can get an appointment.

As far as how it’s gonna work um we have been in discussions with the medical groups around Humboldt County and for people who have medical conditions it’s you know most likely that we’ll be working with medical providers to have them call those patients in based on their medical records and doing outreach and then have some sort of referral system to allow for people who don’t have access to a vaccination site through their primary care provider or who don’t have insurance or or don’t have a primary primary care provider here in Humboldt County to be able to be referred to a vaccination site.

From the Redwood News: CDPH has indicated they’ll be shifting to an age-based vaccination plan after Phase 1B Tier 1. What does this shift or change mean for Humboldt County’s vaccination plan moving forward? Are there or will there be any impacts on Phase 1B that is currently open?

There shouldn’t be any impacts on Phase 1B. We’re going to continue to finish that off and you know in terms of what the shift means it really means that after those occupations in Phase 1B, that everyone will be going through the line based on their age and those will open up, we’re being told statewide, all at the same time. So that’s what we anticipate and we’ll be looking forward to.

From the North Coast News: A viewer messaged us recently concerned about cancelled vaccine clinics due to vaccine shipments delayed by inclement weather. Have all the people scheduled for those clinics been contacted to register for another clinic? Has anyone missed their second dose of the vaccine due to those cancellations?

So Public Health has reached out to everyone who had their Public Health clinics cancelled due to this delay. We do recognize that some people were delayed in getting that second dose on time, but it should still fall within the realm of acceptable based on the CDC guidelines.

From the North Coast News: Where does the county currently stand on allowing organized youth and adult sports? Will the county be following the guidance issued by the CDPH or will you be setting more strict requirements?

We are following the CDPH guidance that was set out last Friday and goes into effect tomorrow and I would think that it’s really solid guidance and look forward to seeing youth and adult sports getting back into action.

From the North Coast News: Where is the county currently at in terms of vaccinating the local homeless population? What outreach if any has the county employed to contact elderly members of the homeless population who may not be aware of their eligibility status?

We’ve been in planning meetings with homeless advocacy organizations to address these communities. We have plans in place to begin vaccination of you know age-appropriate individuals in that population and also working to you know try to vaccinate more broadly in the homeless population once vaccine becomes more available.

From the North Coast News: Has Public Health considered prioritizing vulnerable populations more at risk for contracting the virus like those experiencing homelessness and incarcerated people, or will people in those groups have to wait until their age group is prioritized?

So incarcerated individuals are those who are in prison, are handled by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The staff who work in our local jails have been vaccinated, we have been in talks with the jails about a potential vaccination plan for that population and I think this group is definitely vulnerable and we recognize that and we want to vaccinate them, you know we are just waiting for more vaccine to make that happen.

From the Lost Coast Outpost: By this point many or most people in Humboldt have heard several first-hand stories of friends and neighbors getting the vaccine through unofficial channels, for example by showing up and waiting in line at a clinic or hospital, or by being put on a waitlist for extra doses through friends who work at such places. Many people acquiring the vaccine in this way are not over 70, or over 65, and they’re not employed in healthcare or education or emergency services. This happens often enough that some people believe that there are loopholes in the county’s guidelines, and that if you can put in time and effort — or if you know someone — you can get vaccinated now, even if your tier is not up. Can you convince them that this is not the case?

We are in the business of getting people vaccinated and so we are trying to do that in an orderly fashion and as quickly and seamlessly as possible with the focus on the right populations at the right time. Certainly some individuals are going to extreme measures to get vaccinated out of order. We’ve said often that’s we’re not going to try to police that to a degree that slows down this process. We encourage individuals and groups of individuals to follow this process and I think it’ll you know go much more smoothly and we, you know we hope to be able to open up more broadly to to other groups in the near future and we’ll continue to do so as vaccine allows.

From the Redheaded Blackbelt: Earlier this month Humboldt County announced that they would begin reporting the number of antigen test results each weekday on the dashboard. The number reported has remained at 13 for some time now. Are antigen tests not being used, or are there no positives, or is the dashboard not being updated?

The dashboard continues to get updated on a daily basis. For a while there have not been any positive antigen tests, which is not surprising given the drop in the test positivity rate, I do think they’re still being used, I know they’re being used in many settings, so we’ll we’ll continue to watch that and I think you know going forward the other things they might be used more often say in schools or other surveillance settings, with the the sports leagues that are starting up, so we might see that go up but again it’s because of the decrease in test positivity overall that we’re seeing that number go down.