County Public Health Report ~ 11/21/22

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. (Due to technical issues, the first 6 minutes of today’s briefings are missing from this audio clip.) The summary below was provided by Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

Dr. Allison Berry and Willie Bence delivered the now monthly Public Health Briefing to the Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners yesterday, and here are some highlights from their remarks. In Jefferson County, the two-week COVID-19 case rate is 181 per 100,000 people. No one is currently hospitalized. 37 new cases were added this week for a total of 6,244 cases. There was one more death this past week bringing the total count of COVID-19-related deaths in Jefferson County to 33. Dr. Berry estimated that 20% of COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County were reported to public health last week. The risk of COVID-19 transmission in public, indoor places is moderate. At this level, it’s still recommended everyone wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask in public, indoor settings.

Across the US, the COVID-19 numbers are relatively stable, but still 286 people are dying every day from the virus across America. For comparison, Dr. Berry said a bad flu outbreak in a typical year kills 60 to 80 people each day. Dr. Berry said that pediatric beds and children’s hospitals across the country are overrun with cases of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) in small children. She said we can all reduce the strain on local hospitals by doing a simple thing: Wearing a mask in indoor spaces. The same things she’s been emphasizing for months about COVID-19 also can apply to slowing or stopping the spread of RSV: Wear a mask, increase ventilation. Protect children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised by doing these simple things.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, do all of those things, plus take a rapid test before gathering for holiday gatherings, get a flu shot and the latest bivalent booster shot. Stay home if you are sick, even if it is a common cold. There are rapid tests for flu in emergency rooms and clinics, so if you think you have the flu, and you go to the walk-in clinic, they can test for that and COVID-19. Whether it is one or the other, there are medications to lessen the severity if they are given during the first few days of onset of symptoms.

Willie Bence said the Department of Emergency Management is still assessing the damage and fallout from the catastrophic windstorm two weeks ago in order to apply for assistance from FEMA. He believes they will have that finished in the next month or so, and get a determination from FEMA a short time after that.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and Willie Bence by emailing [email protected] by Friday December 16 at noon, to be answered the following Monday, December 19. You can still report positive home test results on Jefferson County Public Health website (https://jeffersoncountypublichealth.org/1429/COVID-19). Individual case-level data is also available on the state COVID-19 dashboard (https://doh.wa.gov/emergencies/covid-19/data-dashboard – select your County for county-specific numbers), as well as reports on vaccination rates, variant sequencing, and outbreaks. You can still order COVID tests from Washington State until the end of the year at: https://www.sayyescovidhometest.org.