County Public Health Report ~ 4/25/22

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 of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry today reported that although Jefferson County doesn’t have a high number of deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19, there’s now a high transmission rate and a 9% positivity rate. About 70-90% of our cases now are found through home antigen testing. There are two small clusters in schools, numbering three cases each, that are related to unmasking in classroom settings. There has been no further spread within the schools. There is also one long-term health care facility affected in Jefferson County. Dr. Berry strongly recommends wearing the highest quality KN95, KF94 or K95 mask you can find when in public, indoor places. “I don’t go into an unmasked space without a high quality mask,” she said. She said the trigger to go back to mandatory masking would be “if we saw a rise in severe disease in hospitalization and death.” If you contract COVID-19, Dr. Berry said to isolate for 10 days. After 10 days, you are not contagious. For more information, call the hotline at Jefferson Healthcare: 360-344-3094.

Dr. Berry this morning also discussed the need for a second booster or fourth dose. She explained that it does decrease your risk of COVID-19 disease for about four weeks. But it doesn’t dramatically change the prevention against severe disease. The first booster is still providing excellent protection. She said that the vaccines we have available now “cannot prevent all infection and make it so it’s 100% you don’t get COVID-19. However, they still reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and dramatically reduce your risk of getting very sick and dying.” Dr. Berry said one of the myths circulating is that getting COVID-19 provides a lifetime immunity. “When we look at databases of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, we’re seeing it in reinfected people and in relatively high rates when you get beyond the 90-day threshold,” Dr. Berry explained. “It really matters to get vaccinated if you’ve had a a prior infection.” She also said that if you’ve had a breakthrough infection on top of getting vaccinated, you are pretty well protected and that it is the equivalent of four doses of vaccine.“ The risk from contracting COVID-19 yourself is primarily giving it to someone else who would die,” she said.

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.