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Today’s media availability with Dr. Teresa Frankovich, Humboldt County Health Officer, begins with an off-camera question regarding her own face mask.
“We received some comments asking if you can take off your mask during these media availabilities. Can you talk about that
Frankovich says the Health Department offices are not large enough to allow for social distancing, “so I really need to wear the mask.” Maybe they can make one or two of these videos outdoors, he adds.
Many people, both locally and across the country, avoid covering their faces, claiming that they are ineffective, unnecessary and / or violate their civil rights. Yesterday you said that it is time for the community to depend on personal responsibility. With the prevalence of these attitudes, how do you expect that approach to be effective?
“Well, it’s a challenge, for sure,” says Frankovich. While facial coatings have become controversial, there is increasing evidence that they are effective. “At this point, we need to use all the tools at our disposal,” she says.
“On the issue of personal liberties, I would say that we as a society make commitments at all times,” says Frankovich, citing seat belts and speed limits as examples. “It is because there is a common benefit for all of us in doing so.” To avoid a large number of infections, people should use tools such as social distancing, hand washing, and facial linings. “It is that simple,” she says.
We have heard from several people that the response time for tests on the Optum site [at Redwood Acres] It has recently been a full week. In the past few weeks, what has been the average response time for these tests? Are you concerned about the infection implications of these long delay times?
“I’m certainly worried,” she says. When people are symptomatic or have had contact with known cases, the county tries to do the tests in its own laboratory for a faster response. Optum is more for surveillance testing.
The situation is not ideal, and with the urgency of Public Health personnel, the company is working to improve response times, which are currently between two and six days, says Frankovich.
It is worrying, he adds, “because any delay in identifying a positive creates more possibilities for transmission.”
Until yesterday, Public Health had classified 103 local cases as recovered, which we understand means that they meet CDC criteria for not being more contagious. But some of the public consider that they have returned to be completely healthy. How many of these 103 have lasting health impacts?
Public Health follows these people until they are removed from the isolation orders. “At that time, some people may have mild residual symptoms, and we don’t follow them until those symptoms completely disappear,” says Frankovich. That is the role of your primary health care providers.
Nationally, there is increasing evidence that black, Latino, and native populations suffer disproportionately from COVID-19. Is that true locally? And is Public Health doing any specific scope for these communities?
The county will soon provide a dashboard with information on race and ethnicity for local cases, says Frankovich. Locally, there is a disproportionate number of cases in our Latino community. Public health is trying to reach and overcome the language barrier to inform locals of appropriate precautions and what to do if they become ill.
We are told that a group of people tested positive for COVID-19 in South Humboldt today, and they are all connected to a local cannabis farm. Is that true and is the farm legal? Are the people local or out of state / country? Can you address your concerns about the cannabis industry?
Public health does not comment on particular infections in specific workplaces unless it is relevant to public safety, says Frankovich. Recent cases are still under investigation.
As cannabis grows, “it is absolutely a public health concern,” she says. They bring people from outside the area and, legal or not, health officials want to work with them. There is a confidential telephone line to organize exams, tests or obtain information at 707-268-2182.
Expect to see an increase in cases?
In “clusters” of previous cases, infections affected by travel, and this remains a factor. While the county is not asking people to quarantine after the trip, it is asking people to monitor symptoms for themselves and to isolate themselves and be tested if they show symptoms, she says.
“I am frankly concerned about an increase in cases for various reasons,” adds Frankovich. The state as a whole is seeing a rapid increase in cases, raising concerns about travel. Also, Humboldt is opening up further, increasing the chances of transmission.
“And finally, I think people as a community have grown tired of COVID, and I fully understand it,” says Frankovich. Summer activities attract, but gatherings are causing outbreaks across the country. So people need to be masking and distancing.
“I really want us to be able to be in a position where our children are in school, our businesses are still open in the fall and there is no step back,” he says, “and I think that embracing all of these things will help us. to get there. “