Saturday, March 6

Why Have the Contact-Tracing Statistics on the County Dashboard Been Frozen for the Last Few Weeks? Health Officer Answers Media Questions – Lost Coast Outpost

Earlier today, Dr. Ian Hoffman, Humboldt County’s health officer took questions from the media on the county’s management of the pandemic: Why have the public contact-tracing statistics not budged in the last few weeks? How is his department handling the workload associated with a surge of new cases? Do mortuary workers get the vaccine? Have there been other workplace outbreaks at Brius assisted-living facilities? Will his office released the names of the deceased? 

(To that last question, Hoffman answers with a quick “no,” though that may inadvertently have been due to a technicality. In the past, the Coroner’s Office — not Public Health — has released the information in question.)

Video above, rough transcript below.


The Lost Coast Outpost asks, “Can you tell us what is going on with the ‘transmission
type’ statistics on the county dashboard?
In the past 30 days, there have been 770 new cases of COVID confirmed in the county.
Over the same period of time, only 60 cases have been officially put down as due to contact
or travel.
Meanwhile, the number of cases listed as “under investigation” has ballooned up to 768 — well
over the number of known, active cases in the county.
How can the dashboard categorize only 14 more infections as being through ‘contact to a
known case’ between Dec. 1 and now, when there have been some 70 cases related to the Granada
outbreak over the same period?”

It’s a great question.
Really happy everyone’s looking at the dashboard and using it.

We can clarify on this. So December 1st we went to a state-based system called CalConnect, which is a way to really do the contact tracing and investigation in a much more organized
Of course that training and transition period took away from some of the other work that
we were doing, which included how we can track all this and put it on the dashboard.

So my understanding is there’s a backlog of those 600 some cases that we are working to
get that information on.
We know the information, we just have to collate it and put it in the right place so that we
can put it on the dashboard, and that’s being done over the course of the next week.

What I’ll say is that you know, yes, we know what the majority of our cases are, they’re
still the vast majority are contact to a known case.
There’s still a smattering of travel-related cases and certainly gatherings is another
area we know that a big majority of our cases are coming from.
So, look for that update soon it’s something we’ve been working on over the past week and
going into the next week.

The Lost Coast Outpost asks, “What work does Public Health do to track the progression
of disease in people actively battling the virus?
What resources must you bring to bear in monitoring active cases?
With the number of known, active cases over 500, do you find that Public Health is unable
to do this work to the degree that it should be done, or to the degree that it did previously?”

Yeah, really great question, encompasses a lot of what we do here at Public Health and
what our role is in people with COVID-19.
So our first role is really identifying the cases of COVID-19 and we we get that directly
from the the state and the systems that track the laboratory results and and our teams contact
the people who are positive for COVID-19, they interview them and they find out about
what sort of risks they have for spread of the disease.
They also give them a lot of information about how they can isolate at home, who their contacts
are, and also help define the period that they were contagious and that they might have
had contact with other people.
And they give information about how they can get medical care, but I’ll be clear that we
do not provide any medical care to the cases.
We do encourage people to seek out care from their doctor or if they need to to seek emergency
The next part of it is really identifying the contacts and getting those people on quarantine.
We used to do a lot more of that when the case number in the caseload was smaller.
We have had to let go of that and that’s what a little over a month ago we started talking
to people about this message that we’re going to ask low-risk cases to contact their own
contacts and give them information about quarantine.
So that’s where we’re at right now.
We continue to contact every case who has COVID-19 and we continue to give them information
about COVID-19, about isolation and about how to put their contacts on quarantine and
we look for contacts to high-risk settings.

The Times-Standard asks, “What guidance has the state provided for vaccinating mortuary
employees who have contact with COVID positive bodies?”

Yeah, I haven’t seen specific guidance on people who work with COVID positive bodies,
but you know we do have guidance for the three tiers in Phase 1a and those three tiers do
include in Tier 3 laboratory workers, so I assume we will put them with that Tier 3.
We’ll look into it and see, but I would put that in the same category as someone who works
in a laboratory.
So keep looking for that guidance and we’ll let people know if we get any more specific
on it.

The Times-Standard asks, “How long is the deceased capable of passing along the virus
after death?”

I’ll have to say I don’t know the answer to that.
I don’t know that there’s any studies or solid evidence about that.
We do have recommendations for use of PPE with a body that’s COVID positive and all
of those folks should be versed in that and should be using full PPE.

The Times-Standard asks, “Are any other Brius facilities in Humboldt County affected by
the outbreak at Granada?”

So, we don’t know of any other outbreaks at any other facility by that company in Humboldt
Many of our skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities have had a case
in a worker, but have not resulted in outbreaks.
So there are no other outbreaks in Humboldt County.

The Times-Standard asks, “Have any Granada residents or staff received vaccinations?”

No, they have not.
We are working on a plan right now to begin the vaccinations there once their quarantine
has passed, we’ll get working on them and all the skilled nursing facilities in the
next round.

The Times-Standard asks, “Previously names of COVID-19 related deaths were released.
Will further names be released at any point.
If not, why not?”

Public Health does not release the names of those deceased from COVID-19 and we have no
plans to do so in the future.

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