County Public Health Report ~ 2/28/22

The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by 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 Dr. Allison Berry’s weekly update today, she noted that although Jefferson case decline is slowing, our case rate is improving. It stands at 525/100,000. Percent positivity is still high, at 13%. “When we do lift the mass mandates, in addition to recommending masking generally, I strongly recommend high quality masks for those who are at high risk of severe disease,” she said. “So if you have underlying medical conditions, if you’re over 65, it’s really, really important that you have a high quality mask – a KN95 or a KF94 or full N95 if you can tolerate that, That’s going to be really important in indoor spaces.” She also cautioned those who are unvaccinated: “It’s also important to remember that any of us who are unvaccinated are still at high risk of severe disease and so we would recommend that those who have not gotten vaccinated wear a high quality mask in indoor spaces, and that includes children.”

Following Updated CDC Recommendations, the Jefferson County public health order requiring masking in indoor, public places will be rescinded earlier than planned. That order will now lift on Friday, March 11 at 11:59pm, the same time the State of Washington lifts its masking order, also ahead of schedule. The date changes follow updated guidance the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued last week. “I am making this difficult decision because it is frankly untenable to maintain our mask mandate longer,” said Dr. Allison Berry, Health Officer for Jefferson County. “However, I continue to strongly recommend masking in indoor spaces until our case rates reach a safer threshold.” The current two-week case rate in Jefferson County is 525.00 per 100,000 people. Dr. Berry recommends reaching a case rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period before unmasking in indoor spaces. She recommends high-risk individuals wait until that rate drops below 50. The health order that requires bar and restaurant patrons 12 and older to be fully vaccinated if dining indoors will lift on March 11 as well. Dr. Berry encouraged the community to support the decision of any businesses that choose to maintain a masking policy.

The COVID-19 response by Emergency Management is ramping down, according to Director Willie Bence. Vaccinations are readily available at local pharmacies. Masks are being delivered to local businesses and grocery stores including the Food Co-Op. For more information and inquiries about helping those with mobility issues, please call the hotline at 360344-9791.

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.