Information on COVID-19

The City of Arcata is monitoring COVID-19 and is working with, and following all recommended guidelines from, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services.

The spread of COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation, and the City is dedicated to keeping the community safe and informed during this unprecedented time.

Updated information regarding COVID-19 will be provided here and on the homepage of this website as it becomes available. Please scroll down for local updates, information and resources.


An outbreak of respiratory illness, now known to be caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, was first identified in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. This novel coronavirus disease has been given the name COVID-19, and the World Health Organization (WHO) now characterized it as a global pandemic.

Please click here for a summary from the CDC on the source of this disease.

A real-time map tracking COVID-19 cases worldwide can be found here.

About Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

The disease caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus strain does not appear to be as severe as other coronaviruses, such as SARS. According to the WHO, illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, the virus can cause serious illness. About 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care, therefore it is quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

The WHO is still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, and older persons and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

Please click here for more information on coronaviruses provided by the WHO.

How Does COVID-19 Spread?

COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly by coughing, sneezing or by having close contact (within about 6 feet) with someone who is sick or with surfaces they have recently touched. 

COVID-19 is not believed spread like measles (traveling through the air over long distances and times) at this time. 

It can be spread person-to-person through larger droplets of fluid, like from a cough or sneeze, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth. 

Please click here for more information on how the virus spreads.


COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the flu or other respiratory illnesses. Symptoms have been known to present themselves between 1-14 days following exposure. 

The most common symptoms include fever, a dry cough and extreme tiredness. Some patients have experienced aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. COVID-19 symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but do not develop symptoms or feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) have recovered from the disease without needing special treatment. However, COVID-19 can cause serious illness.

Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Those who are older, and those with other medical problems are more likely to develop serious a illness like pneumonia, and there is a risk of death in severe cases of COVID-19.

People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing are advised to seek medical attention. For more information provided by the CDC, please click here.

What Do I Do If I Think I Have COVID-19?

If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, have traveled recently or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, please call a medical provider immediately.

Do not go to a physician’s office, a health care facility or lab without consulting with them by phone to arrange for testing.

If you are severely ill and in need of immediate medical attention call 911 and inform them that you may have COVID-19.

How Can I Prevent COVID-19 from Spreading?

There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The following steps are recommended to help protect you and your loved ones against all respiratory illnesses, including flu and COVID-19:

  • Follow shelter in place order
  • Avoid situations where you are in close contact with people who could be ill and not yet experiencing symptoms.This is where transmission of the virus is most likely.
  • Wear a mask or face covering when you leave your home.
  • Seniors age 65 and older should stay home even if feeling well.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick or if you have a fever.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow, and throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately.
  • Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people who live outside of your household.
  • Do not visit senior centers or health care facilities.
  • Call a medical provider and self-isolate at home if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Do not go directly to a health care provider, call first to arrange for testing.
  • If you are severely ill and in need of immediate medical attention call 911 and inform them that you may have COVID-19.

Please click here for more information from the CDC.

Local Updates & Community Resources

Local News

The City is actively working with Humboldt County health agencies to protect the community, prepare for more local cases and assist in maintaining the health and safety of our region. Please click here for the latest updates from the City of Arcata.

Please click here for the latest updates from the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services or to sign up to receive Humboldt County Health Alerts. Community members may contact the County directly by emailing or calling 707-441-5000.

For medical advice or questions about testing, contact Public Health by emailing or calling 707-445-6200.

For updates from Humboldt State University, please click here.

For updates from Del Norte County, click here.

For more information on COVID-19 and the State of California’s response, click here.

Local Actions

Public health measures are in now place to more quickly identify potential new cases of COVID-19, and the City will support the region to prevent the infection from spreading. Local and regional health care providers are ready to respond to additional cases of COVID-19.

The County is taking steps to ensure our local health care system is ready to respond effectively if needed and to ensure front-line health professionals have current information about the virus so they can take recommended actions and promptly report suspected cases to public health officials.

The Humboldt County Joint Information Center will now provide daily updates about local COVID-19 testing capabilities and results. The information will be updated Monday through Saturday and will be posted here.

We Need Your Help to Contain COVID-19

Individuals and businesses all have a role to play in reducing the spread of this virus in Arcata by implementing good hygiene practices, vigilant cleaning in shared spaces, home-stays for sick employees, implementing physical distancing practices and by staying at home.

Stay at Home

In the strictest response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States so far, the Governor has ordered all California residents to shelter in place until further notice. This order is to ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate to the greatest extent possible, while allowing essential services to continue, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

California residents may leave their homes to seek or provide essential services such as obtaining medical care or supplies, grocery shopping, refilling prescriptions and caring for an ill family member. Those who leave their homes are expected to maintain social distancing guidelines and keep a distance of 6 feet away from those not in their household.

For answers to frequently asked questions about essential services pertaining to this order, please click here.

Click here to see the order in its entirety.

Failure to comply with any provisions of this order constitutes an imminent threat to public health. The order carries the force of law and breaking it could result in a misdemeanor.

Hours before the State issued order, the Humboldt County Department of Public Health put an order in place that directs all individuals living in Humboldt County to shelter in place beginning midnight, Friday, March 20.

Given that the San Francisco Bay Area is experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 with extensive community spread, Humboldt County recognizes the imminent threat presented to the public’s health.

On Monday, March 30, Humboldt County issued an updated Health Order further enhancing the Shelter in Place requirements for County residents.

Updates include:

  • The order does not specify an end date. The order is now in effect until rescinded.
  • The order prohibits short-term rental properties, including hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds, from renting to non-County residents or non-essential workers providing services to the community.
  • The order further limits activity in parks and other outdoor recreational areas that facilitate public gathering.
  • The order clarifies the definition of essential businesses.

The updated order can be found here. To read the original County order in full, please click here.

For more information from Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services, click here.

To find Humboldt County’s current list of allowable, essential services pertaining to this order, please click here.

What is Social Distancing and How is it Achieved?

Social distancing or physical distancing is a practice recommended by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of contagious diseases. It requires the creation of physical space between individuals who may spread certain infectious diseases. The key is to minimize the number of gatherings as much as possible and to achieve space between individuals when activities cannot be modified, postponed or cancelled.

Achieving space between individuals of approximately six feet is advisable to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Personal Preparation

Public health officials are encouraging households to create a COVID-19 action plan and recommend the following:

  • Speak with family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers to discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in Arcata and how you can support each other.
  • Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications. This includes practical steps like ensuring you have sufficient medication and determining what supplies are needed, and if they can be delivered.
  • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support and resources.
  • Create an emergency contact list.
  • Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions.
  • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy, if possible.
  • Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible.
  • Devise a plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.
  • Be prepared in the case that your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed.
  • Plan for potential changes at your workplace.
  • Learn about your employer’s emergency operations plan.
  • Ask about what sick-leave policies and telework options are available for you if needed.

Click here for more information provided by the CDC.

Travel Recommendations

It is recommended that all community members minimize nonessential travel during this time.

High-risk travel is no longer limited to international destinations.

Any travel to areas with community level transmission presents opportunities for exposure to COVID-19. All travelers to these areas, whether international or domestic, should be self-quarantining, which means staying at home except for accessing needed health care, for at least 14 days upon return.

This act of quarantining is critically important to help to slow transmission within our community, reduce risk for our most vulnerable residents and will lessen the impact on our health care system. This, in addition to sheltering in place, helps everyone remain healthy.

Please click here to find the CDC’s current travel notices.

Returning to Arcata 

All travelers, whether international or domestic, should be self-quarantining, which means staying at home except for accessing needed health care, for at least 14 days upon returning to Arcata.

Call a healthcare provider for follow-up testing if:

  • You feel ill after returning or experience COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You were in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You were in a health-care facility in an affected country, including the United States.

Please follow these precautions even if feeling well:

  • Stay at home, and avoid close contact with others.
  • Avoid close contact with other people, especially those with chronic conditions, a compromised immune system or seniors.
  • Do not attend work, school, social events or any other public gatherings.
  • Watch for symptoms like fever, cough or shortness of breath in yourself or family members.
  • Call a healthcare provider at the first sign of symptoms. Make arrangements to see a doctor from home before going to a health care facility, unless severely ill.
  • If severely ill and in need of immediate medical attention call 911 and inform them that you may have COVID-19.