Humboldt County is one of the most isolated counties in California. From this came low numbers of coronavirus cases, a luxury that other counties in the state didn’t have. That has all changed recently. Cases have shot up in every county in California and now there is a new coronavirus strain making its way around.
Known as L452R, this variant largely remains a mystery to local health officials and there has only been one confirmed case for this new strain in Humboldt County as of publication.
Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman believes that while the new variant may be unique, it is not necessarily more dangerous than other current strains.
“I think from just knowing about the other variants, symptomatology should be the same. The UK variant doesn’t show any worse outcomes, it’s just more transmissible,” Hoffman said in a video interview with the Humboldt County Department of Human Health and Services.
Clairissa Keesey, an HSU senior and a studio art and business marketing double major, is on edge about possibly contracting the new coronavirus strain given her job.
“I’m a healthcare worker, I work with direct patient contact as a caregiver, so it definitely makes me nervous,” Keesey said. “But I just got the vaccine so I’m hoping it works.”
The guidelines and practices surrounding coronavirus in Humboldt County remain steadfast.
HSU’s Campus COVID Safety Coordinator Jennifer Sanford outlined some of the ways that HSU is readying itself for the onset of the L452R variant.
“The campus emergency team, and advance planning team both meet twice weekly and continue to be responsive to new developments in terms of campus plans,” Sanford said in an email interview. “We are keeping an eye on the new strain and other happenings and these will be considered in plans concerning the current semester, summer, and fall.”
On a county-wide level, Dr. Ian Hoffman doesn’t foresee any new rules being enacted, even with the arrival of this new strain.
“There should be no change in our practices because the things that we do to prevent the new strains are the exact same things we do to prevent the old strains,” Hoffman said. “So that would be: distancing, masking, avoiding gathering, washing hands.”
For Sanford and her group, the landscape of the situation is constantly evolving and thus they need to be ready for anything.
“In a nutshell, plans adapt as new information comes to light,” Sanford said in an email interview. “Lots of on-campus testing will continue moving forward and we are looking now at how to get the vaccine out to the campus community in an efficient manner as soon as it is available.”