County braces for post-Labor Day COVID wave

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – The county is bracing for a potential upsurge in COVID-19 cases following the Labor Day weekend. On Sept. 9, the county announced that a gathering of 50 people in Southern Humboldt two-and-a-half weeks earlier led to 22 new cases.

“Having a party or wedding or any other kind of gathering is a choice that not only impacts you, it impacts your community,” Acting Health Officer Teresa Frankovich said in the press release on it.

In a Sept. 10 media availability video, Frankovich said holidays like Labor Day include activities that can lead to the spread of disease.  

Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich

“People sometimes are doing more traveling during those times, visiting friends and family outside the area where the exposure risk may be even higher than it is locally or bringing people in to visit who may introduce virus into the community, as well as the gatherings,” she said.

On the post-Labor Day period, she added, “We will be watching over the next two to three weeks to see what happens.”

Asked if she knows of any “supers spreader” events that had taken place over the holiday weekend, Frankovich said she doesn’t but “the way these events are often identified is after the fact.”

Contact tracing reveals origins of cases. “When we begin to get cases and identify where people have been and what they’ve been doing, that’s how we identify a party or gathering or some type of event, and then as the case numbers build we understand that to be a super spreader event,” Frankovich said. “So in our instance, it would be something we’d likely identify after the fact as opposed to, for instance, a very large planned event that we know about well in advance.”

Another COVID-19 transmission risk is the wildfires that continue to burn in various areas near Humboldt. Frankovich advised residents to keep COVID-19 prevention measures in mind if they’re hosting evacuees.

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​“Some people may be sheltering individuals in their home and we appreciate that we take care of each other,” said Frankovich in the introduction to the Sept. 10 video. “If there’s any way you’re able to do that and have people in a separate part of the home or in a separate building, those are the safer options as opposed to being part of the same household.”

​With COVID-19 transmission, outdoor activities are preferable to indoor but smoke is creating unhealthy air quality conditions. “Where we’re normally with COVID telling people to be outside as much as possible, that’s obviously going to be challenging,” Frankovich said.

​She added that “people are likely to be indoors more” and encouraged preventative measures like masking, distancing, hand washing and frequent cleaning of surfaces to offset risks.

September’s case count has been stable and somewhat down from summertime peaks. In the week leading up to Sept. 11, the county confirmed 38 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 447 as of press time.

Five new cases were logged on Sept. 11 along with the county’s fifth death.

A press release described the person who died as being “in their 70s” and living out of the area at the time of death. New cases and deaths are recorded according to places of residence, not the locations where the disease was contracted or death occurred.

In the state’s four-tier level of risk ranking, the county remains at Stage Two or moderate risk.




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