County Public Health Report ~ 2/22

The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Dr. Tom Locke. 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.

Deputy Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke this morning said COVID-19 cases continue to drop across the country and on the Olympic Peninsula. In Jefferson, there has been Omicron activity, but it is down 8% over the past two weeks, putting us at 618/100,000. ”This is a turning point in the pandemic,” Dr. Locke said, noting that now there is a transition from emergency containment mode to a more sustainable and less disruptive one. He noted WA State will be lifting its statewide masking mandate on March 21. Jefferson will lift its mandate at the same time. Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry earlier announced she will rescind the order requiring proof of vaccinations for restaurants and bars as of March 11. “We always will have some COVID-19 around at least for the next several years,” Dr. Locke admitted. “And it’ll occur in waves and really how it behaves will have a lot more to do with the virus than anything else. As we look to the future, not only are new variations or variants possible, they’re really to be expected. If we’ve learned anything from this last two waves, it’s to expect the unexpected.” Dr. Locke spoke about a new Omicron variant, BA2. Noting that it “is not a harmless subvariant,” health officials in Japan believe this strain is more transmissible than Omicron. Dr. Locke feels a wave of BA2 in this county will not occur.

Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Director Willie Bence said that the mass vax clinics that have been held for the past year have ended. If anyone is looking for a vaccine or other information, refer to the Jefferson County Public Health website or call DEM at 360-344-9791. He said most pharmacies have a supply of all of the vaccines. As for masks, Bence said K95 and KN95 masks have been pushed out the grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, chambers, and all County food banks. Public Health also has them. For more information, call DEM.

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.