The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Jefferson and Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.
During the public health update this morning at the BOCC meeting, County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said COVID-19 has been rising dramatically though the nation and in the region. In Jefferson County, there is a significant rise in cases. Our current case rate is 416 per 100,000. As of today, we have 1,589 diagnosed cases. Dr Berry said it is reasonable to assume that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 in Jefferson, it is most likely Omicron. That is the majority variant in our region now. “What we know about the Omicron variant is that it is incredibly infectious,” Dr. Berry said. “It’s very, very transmissible and is a little bit less severe than the Delta variant but not as mild as many people are making it out to be.” She explained that Omicron is 20% less severe than the Delta variant, and the Delta variant was 50% more severe than the original COVID-19 virus. If you are unvaccinated, the Omicron variant is actually more severe than the original COVID-19 virus. “It is not the cold, it is not the flu,” she said. Dr. Berry said for those who are vaccinated, Omicron has a low rate of severe disease. But if you are unvaccinated, it can still be incredibly severe and can lead to hospitalization and death given how how transmissible it is. She said we are very likely to see our hospital system being overwhelmed again. Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glen, along with Tracie Harris, MD and Tina Toner MD, told Commissioners that the hospital is experiencing staff vulnerabilities. And moving patients from one hospital to the other has been critically impaired. The emergency department has increased patient load from 200 to 250 last month. And the Express Clinic normally sees 150 patients; currently it’s 225.
Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and Willie Bence by emailing [email protected]. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.