Today, as he does every week or so, Drs. Josh Ennis, Humboldt County Deputy Health Officer, questioned local reporters. Today’s Topics: Preparing for the flu season, what this year’s Halloween might look like and why young people contract COVID more often.
Video above; Bottom transcript.
The North Coast News asks, “The age range of 20 to 29 years continues to be the highest rate of cases in the county. What are some of the factors contributing to the high number of cases in this age range? ”
What I would say is that there are two big reasons. There are many others beyond this, of course, but the two biggest reasons are actually filling many positions in the labor pool that are of greater risk to the general public. You know, think of a fast food industry, you think you know service industries like hotels, lodging, restaurant work, servers, and so they are just interfering with the general public.
And then secondly, and this is not a case for everyone in this age range, but young people tend to engage in behaviors that assume greater risk and frequency that bring more people together Looks that are traditionally in different households and they are mixing more and so it represents more opportunity for spreading the disease in that scenario.
And so young people are definitely participating in this and I don’t want to do the “other” of this age group, but this is one of the two items that I would say is driving higher case rates in this age range. They are certainly at a lower risk of serious illness and therefore to some extent this makes sense, but again this is a product where they work as well as they are at a lower risk of disease and in those behaviors Are attached which assume greater risk.
The North Coast News asks, “CDPH recently announced new guidelines under which Humboldt County residents can assemble up to three homes. Do you think that this new allowance will help reduce the risk of coming into the holiday season, or perhaps it may open a new can of worms with larger ceremonies? ”
So I think it is an acceptance that no one can remain in complete lockdown forever. I think everyone is getting tired and I don’t blame anyone for this. This is extremely difficult to maintain.
So these guidelines are really trying to give people who want to try to bring people together with a framework and do it as safely as possible. Compared to just being indoors, it increases the risk, I’ve already talked to her before, but it’s trying to lay the foundation in a way that allows people to come together, Do it in such a way that if there is disease within that group, that it slows down the spread. When you start, for example, mixing the three houses you brought, it builds and builds and builds a type and if you find a case, suddenly it goes beyond just three houses. is.
And so the idea is yes, it would predict some higher risk, but do it in such a way as not to cause cases to explode. In a way when it asks the question whether it will help reduce some risk, yes if you are going to get people together it will reduce that risk, but make no mistake about it, it Your own home increases the risk, especially compared to living.
The Times-Standard asks, “Has the county seen any increase or decrease in demand for flu shots amid the COVID-19 epidemic? Are there any concerns about the shortage? ”
At the county level we have not seen any difference at this point. It is still too early in the flu season. There has been no delay in delivery and planning around flu vaccination at the national level, we have been actively watching for the past few months and will be sure to communicate if there is any concern about vaccination efforts this year.
The Times-Standard asks, “What is the nature of the county because of the overlap between the flu season and the epidemic?” What are the best cases and worst cases for case count, death and hospitalization? For comparison, can you provide data from the last three flu seasons for hospitals and deaths in the county? “
This is a very good question. We have been talking about this for at least three or four months. When it can be broadcast COVID-19 on top of a regular respiratory session it is about to come into the respiratory season. So before answering this question I just want to tell you that no one knows what this flu season looks like, it varies from year to year, the last few years have not had particularly severe flu seasons. Are, and the reference for most people who listened to it, perhaps they can compare what the flu seasons looked like with 2009 when we saw H1N1 which was a more severe form of the flu.
So it is being said that when you compare hospitalization and flu deaths with something like COVID-19, you know that your challenge here is how much flu virus every year causes people Makes you sick. And so as an anchor point, you know, I want people to think of that 2009 year when H1N1 was and so it’s kind of a more firm anchor point that we can compare. If you look at hospitalization and death, there are a lot of assumptions that go into this, but the overall mortality rate is probably at least five times higher, well, and we know years of normal flu. In our county that hospitals can operate near the upper limits of normal operation, well, they are not at a point where they are bursting rapidly during normal flu years, but they are operating at the upper end.
You know they built to meet the demand, so if you put COVID-19 on top of it, which we know in our recent memory in the worst flu years, um less than COVID-19 At least five times worse, it is certainly a matter of great concern that it may overwhelm our ability to care for our residents locally. And so this is something that we are very concerned about.
For comparison I have some data on deaths over the years. For the deaths due to flu for 2018 and 2019, we have recorded two deaths in each of those years. Now you could argue that perhaps the test port is not as wide and therefore we can look for deaths due to other respiratory diseases, pneumonia and whatson, just to make sure that we are a sufficiently pure trap. Are putting, and so if you look at them all in the last two years, it was 23 deaths in all those years. For a comparison, we are tracking those deaths this year to see if there is a disproportionate amount due to COVID-19 and at this point we are on pace to surpass that number from prior years.
And at this point, you know, we have eight deaths due to COVID-19 and so given the fact that we have only recorded more than 500 confirmed cases across the county, I think it’s very clear to us Is that COVID-19 is a disease more deadly than the flu in the most common years and even in the most severe years. And again, putting this in context, if you read about the Spanish flu, a lot has changed in the last hundred years, but this is something that uh COVID-19 is a disease that Spanish flu Is on par with, possibly worse. So it can happen once in a century type of epidemic.
The Times-Standard asks, “After Halloween arrives and at least one city council is discussing plans this week, what guidance is the county providing for holiday vacations? What activities are banned and What activities have been discouraged? ”
So we know that the state is actively working on guidance for Halloween, which is the most pressing holiday. Beyond that there are some very big holidays that traditionally bring a lot of people together and given that Halloween guidance is not out yet, but we are anticipating it any day, we will review it And will issue on the guidance of that state. There is issue in the very near future, so stay tuned.