County Public Health Report ~ 8/15/22

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.

COVID-19 rates in Jefferson County are trending down, just like those in Washington and the U.S. County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry continues to recommend isolation when positive, wearing a high quality mask when inside, and be sure the room you are in has good ventilation. She also reminds us to be up-to-date on vaccines. If you are sick, get tested.

Port Townsend’s wastewater is being monitored for COVID-19 and data confirms a decrease in number of cases. “We’ve been getting data back from the sewer system since early July,” Dr. Berry reported. She said there has been a 75% reduction in the sheer amount of COVID-19. Dr. Berry admits that’s only one month of data and that there could be other factors in play that may affect the numbers. For instance, if there is a large festival in Port Townsend and lots of people came in and used the sewer system, that would affect those numbers. But she reports that we are seeing really a consistent trend down since early July.

In Washington, 65 cases of Monkeypox — MPV — have been reported, with no cases in Jefferson. Currently, the vast majority of MPV cases are in gay and bisexual men and other men and transgender individuals who have sex with men. We are seeing that primarily MPV spreads through close skin-to-skin contact, and particularly not exclusively through sex and in the gay and bisexual communities. Dr. Berry cited a large outbreak in Europe after a couple of large dance parties. “If you’ve had an STD in the last year, or if you’ve experienced homelessness or incarceration in the last three months, or if you belong to a historically marginalized racial minority, and you are gay, bisexual or another man or transgender person who has sex with men, all of those things could qualify you for a vaccine,” Dr. Berry said. The Jynneos vaccine is most commonly used to prevent monkeypox infections, and consists of two doses given four weeks apart. No doses have been allocated for Jefferson, but Clallam has 20 doses. If you meet the criteria, call Jefferson County Public Health at 360-385-9400 or Clallam County Public Health at 360-417-2274.

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence said that we are having a quiet wildfire season so far. According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, which covers Washington and Oregon, this time last year, had we had 86 large fires in the region which burned a little under 1.5 million acres. This year, we’ve only seen 21. large fires are a little over 100,000 acres. He reminds everyone to take personal actions like using an ashtray, not parking in long grass and obeying the rules of the burn ban to mitigate the risks.

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.