A year of living in a global pandemic: how the Humboldt County Public Health Department responded

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM) — This week marks a year since the Coronavirus pandemic was first declared by the World Health Organization. Covid-19 first made its way to Humboldt County in late February of last year. Since then, 3,308 cases and 33 deaths have been reported by the Public Health Department.

At the start of the pandemic, there were issues when it came to testing and how to care for those that needed to be hospitalized. This is something County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman witnessed while working as a medical provider.

“We saw people struggling to get the right care in the hospital situation because we didn’t even know how to care for these folks,” according to Hoffman.

Despite some initial roadblocks, Public Health quickly responded in a number of ways to help protect the local community. From the outside looking in, Hoffman believes the County acted accordingly.

“Humboldt County was doing everything right. It was taking all the right precautions. You know, taking masking seriously, taking the distancing seriously, and putting measures in place around the County to reduce the spread of Covid,” Hoffman says.

This includes issuing a local health emergency and a shelter in place order last March. As well as establishing a Joint Information Center with the Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Services.

“To get information out to the community and keep them updated with a very fast moving situation that changed sometimes not just day to day, but hour to hour,” Hoffman adds.

One of the biggest challenges was keeping the community up to date on information that was constantly changing and evolving.

“Things are fast moving and knowledge changes sometimes. What we know one day might be the same as what we know the next day,” Hoffman says.

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Now a year later, 3 Covid-19 vaccines are on the market. To date, 10,435 residents have been fully vaccinated against the virus. That’s roughly 7.68 percent of the total population.

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With vaccine roll out underway countywide, the question we’ve all been asking: When can we expect some sort of return to normalcy?

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“It’s a bit of a crystal ball moment, but I think we will see some more return to normalcy in the coming months if we can avoid a surge of new cases,” Hoffman says.