Dr Frankovich Says Youth Sports Have New Rules, Hoopa COVID Cases Add to County Data, And Schools Need To Adapt

Humboldt County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich has been answering questions since the stay-at-home orders were instituted on a two question per media outlet roughly two times a week basis. The Emergency Operations Center takes the questions, and staff reads them on camera for their response. The resulting video, called a Media Availability, is then provided to news outlets at the end of the day.

Here are some of the main points covered in the August 5th Media Availability session with a summary of answers from Dr. Frankovich, followed by questions we would have liked to ask in response if appropriate.

Staff introduces Dr. Frankovich and asks if she has anything to say before getting to media questions.

Dr. Teresa Frankovich:

I was just going to note that the state did come out with a guidance for youth sports, so we’ve been waiting for that, and it did finally come out.  It’s just a couple pages and so it’s fairly brief. Our Joint Information Center (JIC) will have that available soon on our site so that people can actually, you know, look at the guidance, develop a plan, and submit that to us if, for review.  In the JIC, I think that there are a few points on the guidance that are quite clear. One is that strength and conditioning is allowed, but it should be done outdoors, and it must be distanced- meaning you need that six feet between kids, and in cohorts- meaning that you keep a consistent group of kids together, doing that activity. Over time, the smaller the group, the less the risk.

The second point is that only sports that allow for six feet of distancing at all times can occur.  And so I would think some sports lend themselves to that pretty easily, for instance you know, track.  You can probably do that sort of distancing, you know, golf, singles tennis, obviously there are other sports in which it’s just not possible.  You know, football, basketball come to mind right off the top of my head, as things where you cannot socially distance consistently at six feet throughout, and so those would not be allowed.  

However, the strength and conditioning and drills related to those sports could occur under the circumstances we already discussed, with social distancing and in cohorts, and ideally outdoors unless fully distanced.  And outdoors, everyone wears facial coverings.  They also note in the guidance that high exertion activities should be done unmasked, and should be outdoors.  You know, so if you’re going to do a high exertion activity, it’s outdoors, and then you distance six feet, and you don’t need to wear a facial covering.  And it, you know, milder exertion can be done indoors using a facial covering. And then the final note I would say, is that there really are no competitions allowed.  Nothing that brings together, even teams within a school, within a community, or travel from other teams is not allowed at this time. So, people can again take a look if they need clarification and such.  We’ll have that set up to be able to help them very soon.

2 mins 40 secs in:

Media Question:   Cases of COVID-19 appear to be increasing quickly in Hoopa. Are those cases part of county data and what is being done to help the Hoopa community slow the spread of the virus?

Answer by Dr. Frankovich:

So, Hoopa has been announcing some additional cases, and we’ve been in conversation with those. We work very closely with Hoopa. We actually take a lead on contact investigations and work cooperatively with them on those investigations locally.  So, we all communicate quite readily on this.  We do, those cases actually do become part of our county data.  They don’t always become part of our data on the same day that those test results are available to Hoopa, because we actually need to receive copies of those test results and vet those, etc., before they become part of our case count.  But ultimately, every resident of Hoopa, sorry– every resident of Humboldt County ends up counted in our numbers once for their positive case.

3 mins 35 sec in:  

Media Question: Do the total county numbers include numbers from the Hoopa Valley Tribe or are those numbers recorded separately from the county’s data? 

Answer by Dr. Frankovich:

Again, as we just mentioned, they are included in our data for our county, and so again, our timing isn’t exactly the same but it does get included in our numbers as well.

4 mins 5 sec in:   

Media Question:  Given your knowledge of what constitutes a safe learning environment that reduces the spread of COVID-19, do you believe school districts have the space and staff to maintain a sanitary place for in-person instruction? 

Answer by Dr. Frankovich: 

Well, again, I… You know, I don’t pretend to know the layout for all the schools, their specific staffing issues, or even what their community is looking for right now.  I think what Public Health has done is we’ve provided a framework for schools based on the California Department of Public Health guidance on school return, and the Academy of Pediatrics’ return to school guidance among others. So, we provided a general guidance for them as well as a template for them to construct a plan to incorporate all of those safety features that have been recommended.  

So, I think what happens at each individual school will depend on what their local capacity is, what their facility looks like, what their staffing looks like.  And again, the needs of their particular community, what the preferences are of those families in that community as well. 

So I’m sure the decision they make about which model they use will be based on a lot of those things, and will reflect their capacity to adapt to COVID right now.  

I do think it’s important to remind people, too, that whatever decision schools make right now is a decision at this point in time.  So, if they begin with distance learning because they don’t feel they can meet these parameters, or there are other concerns, then it does not mean that they cannot open later to on-person instruction. And by the same token, schools that begin with on-site instruction, if our situation on the ground changes here, and means that it’s more difficult to really keep those schools up and open, then they may need to pull back into distance learning during the school year.  So it doesn’t commit a school for the full length of the year, it really just gives them a place to begin to do instruction, and I think you know as a, as a pediatrician, I think learning in school is optimal for most children and I think that we’re facing a difficult situation here. I think if we can safely begin, it’s nice to be able to do so in our community.  

6 mins 15 sec in:   

Media Question: What is the health department’s position on kids returning to school in person this month?

Answer by Dr. Frankovich:

Well, as I’ve pointed out, I’m a pediatrician. And so I really like to see kids in school, but we want to do that as safely as possible. I’ve had people ask the question about ‘why do we say that social gatherings can happen, but we can put kids together in school’.  The answer to that, is again, there really is no wide society benefit or even huge immediate benefit to us gathering for instance 20 or 30 people for a backyard barbecue, but I think we would all argue that there is a huge societal benefit and a benefit to children and families if children are in school. And so, that being the case, just as we look at our essential service workers in hospitals, and in congregate living facilities, and in agriculture and other places where we bring people together to work, we we recognize that there is some risk whenever we bring people together.  We construct plans to provide for safety as much as possible in those environments, and we recognize that transmission is occurring in our community in various settings, and that you know, I have no doubt that if we do operate in-person school, there will be cases of COVID in school. If we don’t operate in-person school, we will still see cases of COVID and children and families and other members of our community- it’s just part of our landscape going forward. 

So I want schools to be able to offer in-person learning if they’re able to do so with safety guidelines and it is a model that fits for them.  Their community, their teachers, and really it has to be a joint effort from all of us, but I think we all recognize that school setting is optimal for most kids to learn and develop.

8 mins 5 sec in:  

Media Question: When should I seek emergency care if I think I might have COVID-19, but can’t wait for a test and results to come back?

Answer by Dr. Frankovich: 

So again, if you are ever in a position where you are short of breath, having real difficulty breathing, you are, your symptoms are severe- then you should go to an emergency room and seek care. If you are, if you have pretty significant symptoms actually, at this point, if you have symptoms consistent with COVID, we would really like you to contact your health care provider if you have one, to talk about that and figure out if you might need testing.  Or, if you don’t have a health care provider, and don’t have access to care, we’d like you to reach out to Public Health because- through the JIC, ideally- because we want to try and get you tested, and test in a way that will get us results back more quickly so that we can address the issue.  We prefer to use our Optum site -because of the longer turnaround times- for surveillance testing, rather than for testing when people are ill right now.

9 mins 15 sec in: 

Media Question:  Can COVID-19 be passed through secondhand smoke? 

Answer by Dr. Frankovich: 

So, I think the the underpinning of this question is really that, if you are, it is not the smoke per se that is the issue, but obviously when people are exhaling and they’re breathing out droplets and stuff, it’s the same thing that we’ve been talking about and the reason for distancing and masking is because we know those droplets can carry virus.  And so you know, obviously if someone’s smoking, they’re not masked.  If you’re within six feet, you’re too close.  And of course, from a Public Health standpoint for no one is smoking, so we’ll just put that out there.  So I think it’s just important for people to recognize that it, that perhaps an indicator of having concern, is if you’re smelling smoke, if you’re in a room with someone who’s smoking, you know distancing, masking, and again you know, all those preventative measures.  Ideally, people who are smoking should be doing so outdoor and away from others.

Community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to call 441-5000 for additional information.  

For the most recent state and national COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov

Local information is available at the Humboldt County COVID-19 Data Dashboard: humboldtgov.org/dashboard, on Facebook @HumCoCOVID19, Instagram @HumCoCOVID19, Twitter @HumCoCOVID19, and Humboldt Health Alert humboldtgov.org/HumboldtHealthAlert




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  • Taurus Ballzhoff

    We have spent the summer watching as people have gathered and then gotten sick.

    C-19 can’t really be controlled, but, you can opt to not send your children into the viral soup which is about to occur in schools!

    It is beyond me why we would put school staff and students at extra risk, in an experiment to see if we can create immunity through exposure (which we can)!

    Many schools are staffed with older workers, and more than one school is under the leadership of a principal who is under-prepared to deal with the existence of a serious and infectious agent!

    The Superintendent of Schools wants the schools open, since the employees are being paid to sit home and since the state pays per student per day. School officials should see that experiments on children, according to cash flow, will create a disaster, and that, those schools will have to be closed, the first time a student comes to school with a fever…

    It’s a crazy idea, tantamount to letting kids come to school who haven’t had their immunizations! Healthcare workers have to get physicals, take vaccines, show immunity, and, they are being tested regularly for C-19!

    School kids have to have immunizations for MMR, Varicella etc, technically, before coming to school!

    You can’t “social distance”, in a school, Dr Frankovich, and I can’t even believe that you, a pediatrician, would countenance delivering a statement, advocating opening the schools, at this time…

    • mlr the giant squirrel in Eureka

      Any employee working anywhere, including public school teachers and staff, need to do their job or choose to quit (retire). They don’t get to tell their employer what they will or won’t do. It’s a simple choice to work or don’t available to every employee in free America. No reason need be given for quitting and no advance notice is needed. Lincoln outlawed slavery long ago.

  • 🕯🌳Couldn’t they place cameras around the fields and live stream it to a place were people could set in there cars and watch it on a big screen?👁👁

  • “Well, you know”…..Dr Frankovitch PLEASE stop saying “You know” every other sentence. You are supposed to be an educated, trained medical professional and the person in charge of the County’s medical response to the pandemic, not some teenager talking to their friends. Also anytime we use “um”, “uhh” or “you know” we are stalling for time in our communications with others. Try to be better Dr. please.

  • The pandemic so dangerous and deadly we have to get tested to know if we’ve even had it. Makes total sense

  • Youth programs are important and need to be in place. Programs should think about investing in live stream ideas and limit any parents.

  • Shelter the at risk if they desire.

    However, end the lockdown on everyone else! End the economic suicide.

    This is not what the “experts” predicted when they placed us in a state of slavery to them!

    The unintended consequences of lockdown are disastrous.

    • Guest,

      When the Pinko Commies are dealt with, ALL of the balances will return if it’s not too late.
      Dang! Too late! :0(

      WE are in Karl Marx’s playbook and shutting down society is the brushstroke before total
      return to savagery. Proven time and again throughout history.

      When a man can’t feed and shelter his family after years of comforts, hunger will make him
      (her) go for their neighbor’s stash. They won’t be coming to borrow sugar. Get it?!

      Sheeit! All of the DC crowd is in on it. Don’t think so? You don’t see any of those muckrakers stopping
      this, do you? Fuck politics!

      Poli-ticks! Multiple blood suckers!

      Next? Marshall Law and the “camps”.

      The fucking Virus is the equalizer internationally to thin all herds.
      What is left of humanity will be abysmal .

      “Free stuff! Bernie! Free money! No work! ”
      Lazy, cheap-shot Millennials!
      And you idiots rag the Boomers for breeding you in the first place?

      Life used to be precious . Some of us still hold that.
      Seems you do.


  • Letting kids go back to school is a sure fire way to make this spread like the Red Salmon Fire.

  • This year, especially this summer, has been a complete disaster. Things really have to be a whole lot better for everyone, especially me. I feel like we have been apart and distant and isolated long enough, and I think that it’s time for us to finally get back together for real. This year is almost over, and something has to be done.

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