Frankovich Answers Questions on COVID During Flu Season, Why the Virus is Prevalent in the Ag Industry and More in Todays Media Availability – Lost Coast Outpost

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No introductory comments today from Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich. She gets right to answering media questions. See our summary of her answers below. 

The Redheaded Blackbelt asks…
Of those with confirmed active positive tests so far, how many are asymptomatic, how many have symptoms, how many are currently in the hospital, and how many are currently occupying beds in the ICU?

Some of this info is on the county dashboard, Frankovich says. The county follows patients only through their quarantine period, not long-term. The county does not report current hospitalizations, only total since the start of the outbreak. 

The Redheaded Blackbelt asks…
Regarding the public information updates on positive cases locally, can you tell us anything at all in a general sense (not specified to individual cases to avoid HIPPA concerns) about the therapies or treatments for local patients, and if a ventilator has been used for treatment, etc.?

Local patients have received remdesivir, convalescent plasma and dexamethasone, Frankovich says, and some have required ventilation.

The Redheaded Blackbelt asks…
Looking at the breakdown in case origins, can you tell us, even if as an estimate — of the section identified as “contact to a known case” — can you estimate what percentage of those cases result from “travel acquired” or by “community spread”?

“We don’t quite track the data in this fashion,” Frankovich says. It can get complicated when doing contact tracing to assign a category to the method of transmission.

The North Coast Journal asks…
Schools throughout the North Coast are returning to session this week and next, with most beginning the year with distance learning. As a pediatrician, what advice do you have for parents looking to help their children navigate this period in ways that promote mental and physical health?

Children will take their cues from their teachers and parents, Frankovich says, and so parents can “normalize” wearing a face mask at home. Kids need to have some security, and it helps to know there are things they can do to stay safe.

The North Coast Journal asks…
You have mentioned seeing an increase in cases related to the agricultural sector locally. Can you explain what it is about this sector and its working conditions that has led to virus spread in employees locally?

It can be related to the challenges of distancing at the workplace, especially indoors, Frankovich says. There may also be issues with workers having shared living situations and high workforce turnover.

The Times-Standard asks…
Are any local positive COVID-19 results not listed as part of the total positive cases? This question stems from wondering how HSU or CR students who live here locally but are not considered permanent residents are treated. We know the JIC previously stated a Trinity County resident who was tested in Humboldt County was not included in the county’s count.

Cases are assigned by place of residence. So if an HSU student has a local address and tests positive, they’re reported locally. But if someone travels here from Los Angeles and gets a test here, they’re counted in L.A.

The Times-Standard asks…
Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to talk about the reopening of businesses today at noon. If he gave the okay for counties not on the watch list to reopen some businesses that have been shuttered, what time frame would the county provide on allowing those businesses to reopen locally?

Frankovich says she was in a meeting at the time of the governor’s announcement. Regardless, the county has received no documents since then. 

The Lost Coast Outpost asks…
There are at least a couple of months of fire season left in California. Has the county been preparing for the possibility of evacuations and emergency shelter facilities in the time of COVID? Are you working with other agencies or governments on this problem?

Public Health and the Emergency Operations Center team are working on plans regarding the prospect of evacuation, Frankovich says, and other agencies are also looking at how to safely manage sheltering during the time of COVID-19. Some people are already coming to Humboldt informally, to camp or stay with relatives. 

North Coast News asks…
With improving virus data, California is looking to reopen again. Newsom is expected to announce plans tomorrow for reopening businesses that were shuttered in July. But there’s so much public confusion with California constantly shifting pandemic lockdown rules. What kind of clarity do you need from the governor tomorrow about reopening business; are there certain public health data that would determine success or failure locally?

Timeframes have been put into the reopening model, Frankovich says, adding that there’s a general acknowledgement that previous reopening was done fairly quickly. Look for the new model to be more cautious and thoughtful.

Regardless, the state framework can be modified at the county level to be more — but not less — restrictive. 

North Coast News asks…
Flu season is still a couple of months away, but local pharmacies are starting to offer a flu vaccine now. With talks of a potential “twindemic” with the flu and COVID-19, do you suggest people be immunized against the flu now or closer towards the fall? 

The rule of thumb in public health is to go ahead and get the vaccine as soon as it’s available, Frankovich says, “and we certainly want people well-vaccinated this flu season. It’s going to be incredibly important in helping us manage this pandemic.”

North Coast News asks…
With COVID-19 mirroring flu symptoms, it would make sense that some people with the flu may believe they have COVID and get tested. Do you worry that an influx of flu patients getting tested may put an unnecessary strain on testing capacity because non-COVID patients would be receiving tests?

The symptom list does have a lot of overlap, Frankovich says. Some people might wind up having co-infections. The county’s goal is to have enough testing capacity and quick-enough turnaround to handle any increased demand.

Redwood News asks…
Would any of our local cases of Covid-19 be considered long haulers? Or have any of our cases reported persistent symptoms even after being deemed “recovered?” Any long-term health issues, etc.? Are you able to give residents an idea of what those symptoms may look like?

As stated above, the county only follows people short-term. Primary care providers and national and state research projects track longer term. Most local cases don’t have many symptoms by the time they exit isolation. One symptom that persists a bit longer is the loss of taste or smell. Most local patients have been younger and healthier, reducing the impact of the virus.

Redwood News asks…
With flu season around the corner and some symptoms of both Covid-19 and the seasonal flu being similar…are you able to provide residents with any guidance on what first symptoms they should be aware of as potentially being Covid-19? Or what symptoms are more likely with just a flu? with Covid-19?

See above. They’ll be virtually indistinguishable for some people.