Jefferson County January 2021 Case Numbers

This graph shows the monthly and cumulative number of COVID-19 infections reported in Jefferson County, from March through January, 2021. Data source: Jefferson County Public Health Department website, graph created by KPTZ.

As of January 31, 2020 the total number of COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County was 307. There were 82 cases in January, slightly more than the spike of 79 in November. 

County Public Health Report ~ 2/01

The following is a summary of the presentation made by Dr. Tom Locke, our local Health Officer, during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioner’s meeting:

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.org. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.

General Remarks:

  • Nationally, new COVID-19 are declining, noting a 40% drop from the peak in January, with hospitalizations decreasing 24% after rising to an all-time peak.
  • Washington, having seen a surge in December and January, has seen a 52% drop in new cases, with a concurrent 19% drop in hospitalizations. The state rate of new COVID-19 cases is 392 per 100,000 population, down from the previous week of 462 cases per 100,000, with a high 9.6% case positivity.
  • As of this day, Jefferson County reported triple its new cases (28), as compared to the previous week of 8 cases reported. Our case rate now stands at 106 per 100,000 population, up from 72 the previous reporting period, with 3.23% positivity.
  • Neighboring Clallam County has 84 cases per 100,000 population with 3.25% new case positivity. Mason County has recorded 174 cases per 100,000 population and 14% positivity, with Kitsap County at 155 cases per 100,000 and 7.3 % new case positivity. Local public health websites in our regional area continue to be the more reliable source for DOH metrics, as the state has lags in reporting and recording data.
  • Dr. Locke first addressed the concerning worldwide news of new virus variants being reported, stating the regional mutations to the spike protein impacts the state of the pandemic, making the virus easier to transmit to another person. While vaccination efforts are ramping up, the public health tools of masking, distancing, and sanitizing our environment become critically important to stop the spread and subsequent replication of the virus when it finds a new host. Evidence continues to demonstrate the mutations are more transmissible and emerging evidence shows it is more likely some mutations are more deadly, making vaccination campaigns more urgent. Politicizing the pandemic imperils our recovery, as evidenced by some states repealing mask mandates previously implemented.
  • Locally, 5,019 doses of vaccines have been given out, with 90% of all vaccines given by Jefferson HealthCare and 10% given by three local pharmacies. The next allotment (about 1,000) heading to Jefferson County will be used to support those needing their second dose. A small proportion will be used for older, very high risk seniors for a first dose, especially those identified as receiving cancer treatment or with other immunosuppressive conditions.
  • Washington’s allotments have increased slightly to about 155,000 doses a week, with the majority going to first dose needs and a small portion being used for second doses. The state is now managing second-dose logistics, releasing the local counties of this burden. All vaccine allotments are required to be given within 7 days and are being used as fast as they arrive in the local counties, with no holding second doses in reserve. The number of doses given statewide reflects a delay in recording and reporting local data. Currently, 62% of vaccine allotments have been given to Washington residents.
  • Our allotments locally have been reduced temporarily to give previously under-allotted counties their fair share. Vaccine allotments and shipments are expected to stabilize towards the end of February, and the state has predicted that counties will know the allotment quantity weeks ahead of planning appointments. Jefferson County continues to focus on getting those at highest risk of severe disease and death vaccinated. Dr. Locke is asking those healthy residents, aged 65-75 years to wait to get the vaccine so the available supplies go to the most vulnerable at this time.
  • Pharmacies are following state guidelines as to the targeted populations for vaccines, currently those aged 65 years and older in Washington.
  • Mass vaccinations events are being planned for Jefferson County when supplies of vaccines outpace the current method used for the drive thru setup near the hospital. A plan has been submitted to the state to indicate our readiness to receive larger allotments. Efforts are underway for increasing availability of volunteers and equipment for this eventuality in the months ahead, as it is estimated that 70-80% of our residents intend to get the vaccine.
  • The Jefferson HealthCare website still remains the central source of information related to vaccination availability. National production is steady, but not enough for the current need of those wanting the vaccine.
  • The the RoadMap to Recovery statewide plan from the Governor has received criticism due to the faulty methodology employed in determining progression to re-opening. It is a case of flawed methods leading to flawed policy, as evidenced by those areas with the highest prevalence being able to progress to re-opening before lower prevalence areas, especially when a percent reduction is employed in the calculations. There is some logic in recognizing our connectedness, especially as many people travel to high prevalence areas for work. However, increasing opportunities to gather more indoors, especially dining, could accelerate new cases, prompting closures again.
  • For our Northwest Regional area, Kitsap and Mason counties continue to influence our collective epidemiology picture, with Kitsap having the largest population and Mason County being the site of the prison medical facility for COVID-19 inmate cases for the state.
  • To reduce the prevalence of cases now and with the emerging evidence of normal, but concerning mutations, Dr. Locke is advising all residents to double mask for several months. The inner mask should be a surgical mask, then covered with a cloth mask to seal any gaps, especially when in closed, crowded public spaces.
  • Public health officers are limited in the facts they can share with the public regarding cluster outbreaks, so the remarks are general here regarding a cluster outbreak in our community. In large population areas, these cluster outbreaks are common and relatively easy to prevent ongoing spread to the wider community. As a rule, containment is the goal in cluster outbreaks.
  • Focus on the specific cycle thresholds being used for PCR tests conducted mainly at the University of Washington is being used, in Dr. Locke’s opinion, as an argument, to undermine the reliability of these tests. This is an issue of timing in the disease process, whether at the beginning or the end of the infectious stage, as well the amount of virus present in the nasal swabs. The PCR is a highly reliable indicator of current infection, as well as other epidemiological information collected when conducting case investigations. There is no reason for the public to doubt its reliability and sensitivity at this point in time.
  • Long-term care residents and staff are now getting the vaccine, after a slow initial roll-out by the contracted, national pharmacy chains. Locally, Jefferson County used some of their allocations to vaccinate staff, as this is the potential introduction of the virus into these facilities. Protection of the most frail was the biggest consideration in taking this action.
  • A vaccine manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson, just released their efficacy data in a press announcement. They reported a 70% plus efficacy in preventing severe disease and no hospitalizations, which in Dr. Locke’s opinion is excellent for a one-shot, easy-to-store coronavirus vaccine. After application and approval of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), supplies are expected by early April.
  • The placement of teachers in the hierarchy of the statewide plan considers this group to be an essential worker, which is the next group to be included, but focuses on those 50 years of age or older. Schools are seen as low-risk environments according to the epidemiology. As supplies increase, teachers of all ages will be included. Many of the details in the state’s plans are difficult to operationalize for local health officers.
  • Serious reactions are very rare with this vaccine, so if this occurs for an individual on the first inoculation, they are advised not to get the second shot. It is critical to know why a person reacted, to determine if another vaccine is more appropriate, especially if they reacted to a component of the vaccine.
  • The timing of the second dose can be either a few days early or up to 6 weeks after the first dose, according to a newly published CDC document.

Willie Bence’s response to our current situation:

  • He thanked the many residents registering to help with future vaccine clinics. About 200 non-clinical residents applied as well as 40-50 clinical volunteers. The goal is to register a lot of volunteers, as work shifts require a volunteer to be on their feet all day, which is about walking 7 miles for those directing traffic. He stated this needs to be a whole community effort with lots of residents taking turns for several months.
  • Jefferson HealthCare continues to be the most up-to-date site for vaccine appointments. He encouraged all persons 65-75 years of age to sign up on this website to be notified when appointments become available. In the future, the county may become the central site for information, especially if more entities apply and get approved for vaccine allocations in our county.
  • Residents can refer to the state website for metrics pertaining to the progression to the next phase for re-opening our economy. The next date for calculations is Feb 12, with implementation to begin on Feb 15.

Compass for 1/30/21

This week on the Compass we once again talk with Jefferson County Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke as he tries to recruit volunteers to help with a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 – when and if the plentiful supply of vaccine required for such a campaign becomes available. We also talk with him about a proposal to completely overhaul Washington’s public health system now before the state legislature that, if passed, would relegate county health officers like him to the dustbin of history.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 1/29

On this episode of Through Science to Health, host Chris Bricker talks once again with Dr. Joe Mattern, Chief Medical Officer for Jefferson Health Care. He’s charged with overseeing the logistics of distributing the COVID-19 vaccines for Jefferson Healthcare.

Dr. Mattern gives us an overview of logistics, from supply and allocation to scheduling. He emphasizes the importance of following protocols, even after receiving the second dose. He also discusses the variants of the virus, dosage efficacy, and projections for getting our population here in the county vaccinated. He describes the collaborative and thorough planning taking place that assures that no one is left behind. He also walks us through the steps that we should expect at the vaccination site.

ICG “Strong Towns” Live Broadcast ~ Thursday 2/04

Tune in Thursday evening, February 4 at 5pm, for a live broadcast of the Intergovernmental Collaborative Group (ICG) presentation on Strong Towns, featuring engineer and planner Charles Marohn, named by Planetizen as one of the 10 most influential urbanists of all time.  Mr. Marohn has written numerous books including Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity. For more information visit jeffcotogether.net.

The ICG was formed to help our Jefferson County communities come back stronger and more resilient following the COVID-19 pandemic. Instructions for joining the presentation via Zoom online are at the Port of Port Townsend website.

Click Here for Video Replay of the Presentation and Q&A

County Public Health Report ~ 1/25 (contd.)

  • Nationally, new COVID-19 cases have begun to decrease, after rising to an all time peak. Daily case counts have decreased about 33%, a reduction of about 17,000 new cases per day, currently.
  • Washington, having seen a surge in December and January, has seen a 37% decrease in new cases, documenting nearly 1,600 new cases a day. Hospitalizations continue to be our highest numbers yet, but do not exceed our current capacity. Washington is currently reporting 462 new cases per 100,000, with 10.7% cases positivity.
  • As of this day, Jefferson County now has 283 cases, with 69 cases per 100,000 population, and a 3.23% case positivity. Neighboring Clallam County has 143 cases per 100,000 population with 6.4% new case positivity. Both counties remain among the lowest in both metrics in Washington. Mason County has recorded 246 cases per 100,000 population and 19.8% positivity for new cases, with Kitsap County at 195 cases per 100,000 and 9.6% new case positivity.
  • Concerning news is that the variants discovered in Britain have been recently documented in Washington as expected: this strain appears to be about 50% more transmissible than our current circulating strain.
  • The metrics for Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam Counties are tied together in determining progression to the next phase of loosening restriction for re-opening under the RoadMap to Recovery statewide plan. The Northwestern regional data on the four crucial metrics indicating progress to recovery is coming closer in alignment to the data each county is reporting.

Dr. Locke’s responses to questions and topics submitted by KPTZ listeners:

  • Currently, two vaccines are available, Pfizer and Moderna. Both vaccines require two doses and will be given according to the schedule dictated by the clinical trials, with no deviation. Pfizer’s second dose will be given 21 days after the first dose and Moderna’s will be given 28 days after the first dose.
  • All state Governors control allocation of available vaccine supplies according to each individual state’s priorities. Deliveries go directly to each county. Each local county health officer has been encouraged to create a subset of at-risk individuals within state guidelines, to begin with those most at risk of severe disease and death. Currently, Jefferson County is focusing on those in 1B and up for the limited supply of doses available.
  • The vaccines are considered to have an excellent safety record, with over 20 million nationwide having received the vaccine. There is intense demand and it will take a while to get the vaccine to all who are willing to be vaccinated. Initially the state was providing doses to those counties who had the immediate capacity to use doses as soon as they were received. Allocation now is temporarily going to larger urban areas until they receive their equitable share to date. The state will then resume equitable allocation to smaller counties, so we may see a decrease for a few weeks. Our county has nearly one third of residents over 65 years of age and it may take several weeks to make a dent in vaccinating this age group. Expected doses are about 1,000 doses a week for the present time. Washington needs 3.4 million residents statewide to be vaccinated to reach 70% herd immunity.
  • Once you are vaccinated with both doses, nothing will change from our present day recommendations to mask, distance and wash your hands. If you are vaccinated and become a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case, the health department will still expect you to quarantine for 14 days…all mitigation strategies remain the same until mid-summer.
  • At some point, traditional community festivals are likely to be able to restart with modifications to spacing and ventilation requirements to reduce outbreaks. It will also depend on the percent vaccinated as this still remains an experimental vaccine granted under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA and all vaccinations remain voluntary.
  • There is no truth to the rumor that the state is with-holding any vaccines doses.
  • Currently, three (3) pharmacies and a hospital are scheduling vaccinations. We can expect modest increases mid February. The state has directed all received allocations be immediately used, as second doses are accounted for separately.
  • Nearly 4,000 vaccines have been used so far in Jefferson County. Frail elders are being served best in the drive thru clinic at about 250 people a day, some days with up to 400 seniors. Nearly all the 1A priority who want the vaccine have received them. About 75% of hospital personnel have received the vaccine. Dr. Locke will meet with first line responders to answer their questions and encourage higher levels of vaccinations.
  • Currently, new COVID-19 cases result from unsafe behaviors when non-household friends and family congregate. Another risk is just being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a highly infectious person is circulating in the community. As many as 59% of persons infected are either pre-symptomatic or never get symptoms.
  • Locally, the best source of vaccination information is the Jefferson HealthCare website.
  • For information and questions about the vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control CDC) has a phone line operating 7/24: 1-800-CDCINFO. You are also encouraged to bring questions to your health care when you have an appointment.
  • Small social circles of vaccinated persons is not considered safe or wise at this point. Public health officials do not have the data to provide science-based recommendations until the current studies are completed. This is especially dangerous after just having the first dose. High viral prevalence in our community makes this unwise and unsafe.
  • Multigenerational households with the following scenarios will be part of those in the 1B category prioritized for vaccinations, according to further clarification from the state. If you are a grandparent caring for a grandchild, a caregiver of an elderly person or relative, or a family member taking care of an elderly person, you are eligible to receive the vaccine if you are over 65 years old, as supplies become available.
  • Dr. Locke expressed his concern regarding the angst and anger directed at those health professionals managing the vaccination rollout as unfair, given the shortage of vaccine supplies and massive undertaking for all government agencies. It is their role to identify and prioritize those at the greatest risk of disease and death at this point in time. He stated this vaccine is for every resident in this county, not just Jefferson Healthcare patients. Several sites are trying to identify these individuals and reach out to them.
  • It is a matter of being patient, and waiting your turn, and recognizing the inherent limitations of all government and medical facilities when facing and adjusting to this unprecedented pandemic. We currently have the means to protect ourselves, doing what we have done for the last 10 months, until supplies of the vaccine improve. This last stretch will require intense patience, grace, and gratitude from all residents.

Department of Emergency Management Director Willie Bence’s response to our current situation:

  • Jefferson HealthCare has paused making appointments due to lack of vaccines for new appointments; will resume later in the week.
  • Volunteers with medical backgrounds who can give vaccinations and hold a current license are still needed – such as MD’s, RN’s and EMT’s with specialized training to give inoculations. The larger clinics and larger vaccination sites will function mainly on these types of volunteers.
  • As changes happen rapidly regarding vaccine information, the best site is still Jefferson HealthCare. Our efforts have paid off as Jefferson County ranks 4th in the state for giving the vaccine doses per 100,000 population delivered to our county, even in this year-long crisis.
  • If anyone is having trouble navigating the appointment system of websites, they are encouraged to call the phone lines at the Department of Emergency Management at 360-344-9791. Priority still is based on age at this time.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 1/22

This afternoon on Through Science to Health KPTZ’s host Chris Bricker summarized some of the national COVID-19 statistics and Lynn Sorensen, RN reviewed Dr Locke’s January 19 update to the BOCC and community. Vaccines to protect the populace against COVID-19 are being given through Jefferson Healthcare’s drive up clinics with registration online through the JHC website. The rollout of the vaccine depends on supply that the state distributes each week to the counties. New guidelines were announced by the state of Washington this week on the tiers/ages eligible for the vaccine. The community is asked to be patient with the process.

County Public Health Report ~ 1/19

The following is a summary of the presentation made by Dr. Locke, our local Health Officer, during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioner’s meeting:

Note: As of this day, Jefferson County now has 269 cases, with 125 cases per 100,000 population, a 3.18% case positivity. Neighboring Clallam County has 154 cases per 100,000 population with 8.5% new case positivity. Both counties remain among the lowest in both metrics in Washington.  Mason County has recorded 360 cases per 100,000 population and 19.8% positivity for new cases, with Kitsap County at 233.cases per 100,000 and 12.5% positivity.  The metrics for Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson and Clallam Counties are tied together in determining progression to the next phase of loosening restriction for re-opening under the RoadMap to Recovery statewide plan.

Today, January 19, Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke shared about the recent Jefferson County increase in COVID-19 cases. He answered questions from KPTZ listeners about:

Click here to read the complete message

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.org. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting. 

County Public Health Report ~ 1/19 (contd.)

Nationally, new COVID-19 cases have risen to an all-time peak, with nearly 200,000 new COVID-19 cases reported daily, signaling a 38% increase in the last two weeks. Additionally, nearly 3,000 deaths were reported each day and approaching nearly half a million deaths since the start of this pandemic. This pattern has been repeated in many states.

Washington, as of January 18, reported a 7-day average of more than 1,800 new cases, up 27% from the previous 2 weeks, and deaths nearing 4,000 since January 2020. Cases per 100,000 population was 272 statewide in the first 2 weeks of January. Hospital admissions in the state have increased slightly, but currently remains below capacity.

As of this day, Jefferson County now has 269 cases, with 125 cases per 100,000 population, a 3.18% case positivity. Neighboring Clallam County has 154 cases per 100,000 population with 8.5% new case positivity. Both counties remain among the lowest in both metrics in Washington. Mason County has recorded 360 cases per 100,000 population and 19.8% positivity for new cases, with Kitsap County at 233.cases per 100,000 and 12.5% positivity. The metrics for Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam Counties are tied together in determining progression to the next phase of loosening restriction for re-opening under the RoadMap to Recovery statewide plan.

Changes are expected with the inauguration of a new administration regarding federal prevention strategies, vaccine production and availability, and policies. In the next six months, Public Health infrastructure will be appropriately funded, staff increased and science will provide the basis for these efforts.

Vaccines:

Currently, vaccine availability remains limited and Jefferson County has been vaccinating those individuals in the 1A tier, which include front-line medical workers who face heightened exposure to infectious patients and settings, as well as residents and staff in long-term living settings. Jefferson County has stepped up and used some of its vaccine supplies for the staff of these facilities when it was evident that organizations contracted to vaccinate this population were behind schedule. The residents still need vaccinations. Jefferson County has now included the 1B, Tier 1 population, which focuses on the eldest at risk of severe complications and death. Although state guidelines include a larger age band in their eligibility (over 65 years of age), Jefferson County has a disproportionate number of seniors here as compared to other counties. Only individuals 80 years and older are currently eligible for the limited supply of vaccines. About 37% of this county’s population is over 65 years of age and will take a longer time to vaccinate as compared to other counties.

Our biggest challenge in this moment is managing our expectation about when we will individually get the vaccine and what that means going forward.

Jefferson HealthCare is the main site and has scheduled 1,000 persons this week for vaccinations, about 250 a day. We have received 2,198 doses for the first doses to date, and now will use the reserved supply held for the second dose for more seniors at-risk to receive their first dose. Supplies for those needing the second dose will be used as new shipments arrive. Although supplies are limited, the state has been informed this is a temporary situation. New types of vaccines are expected to get FDA approval sometime in March and will increase availability.

Local county staff have been observing the vaccination clinic events in Sequim and Port Angeles in anticipation of events like this for Jefferson County in the near future. Currently in Jefferson County, all individuals eligible can register at one of three facilities taking appointments: Jefferson HealthCare, Safeway, and Tri-Area Pharmacy. These sites have requested residents not to call the site, but go to their websites as all these sites have critical responsibilities to fulfill and are burdened when they are diverted to calls related to vaccinations.

Another category in 1B, Tier 1 includes 50 year olds in multigenerational households and is aimed at those caretakers of elderly individuals in the same household. This has been difficult to operationalize as this information tends not to be in medical records. It is up to individuals to truthfully represent their situation if they fall into this category. The state has recently provided more clarification describing those considered in this category.

Response to Listener Questions

Organizations and businesses providing vaccinations must apply to the state and undergo a rigorous vetting due to the specific needs of these new vaccines, including storage, technical knowledge, and equity requirements, such as no out-of-pockets costs to residents.

The pandemic will not be over for the community when an individual resident gets a vaccination. We must continue to use mitigation measures to keep cases from continually rising and deaths are greatly reduced. If a vaccinated person goes to the store and does not wear a mask, they will be asked to leave as they still pose a risk. The vaccine protects a person, when infected, from progression to serious disease. This must continue until death and disease go down. As vaccinations continue, guidelines may provide some exceptions for vaccinated persons in limited circumstances. Public health leaders and scientists are trying to gather more information about infectiousness on some of these questions. As long as new case prevalence remains high, it is too risky to drop our prevention measures.

There is no need to get a COVID-19 test prior to getting vaccinated. If you are currently experiencing symptoms, are in quarantine or isolation, you should not get the vaccination, mainly to protect the medical workers and volunteers.

There is no out-of-pocket expense for the vaccination in Jefferson County, although some organizations may bill your insurance company for the cost of administration.

If you do not have insurance, you can still get the vaccine at no cost to you.

It appears these first two vaccines have slightly higher allergic reactions than other vaccinations. Non-COVID-19 vaccines typically produce 1 in 1,000,000 allergic reactions in the vaccinated population as compared to 11 in 1,000,000 for the new COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccination sites are prepared to treat individuals if reactions occur, as trained personnel watch all vaccinated individuals for 15 minutes after the shot is received. For those vaccinated with a history of reactions, they are observed between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the facility and reported history of reactions of the patient. It is critical to report any history of reactions to past medical procedures or vaccinations to the provider giving the vaccinations. Currently, very few exceptions are listed as contraindications for these first two vaccines.

Common side effects reported from vaccine trials and those currently receiving the vaccinations are soreness at the site of injection (50%) and headaches and fatigue (50%). Side effects with the second dose may include more symptoms, including a mild fever and affect your stamina for going to work, but just for a day or so. These symptoms are recorded as side effects, but are actually a sign that your immune system is reacting to the presence of a protein it has not seen before and developing a response. If you have no side effects, Dr. Locke says you are lucky and still building a response.

Because we are grouped with Mason, Kitsap and Clallam Counties under the states RoadMap to Recovery, our progression to Phase II is dependent on our collective ability to meet the state’s health metrics over time and is influenced by each county’s local epidemic numbers. Data listed on the state’s DOH website is different and at odds with the data each county has tabulated for a variety of reasons. The local county and the state collect data from different sources, some of which have crashed recently. Our status of being in Phase I actually acts to support case suppression and currently is safer for all of us. Traditional public health interventions like case investigations and contact tracing continue to work if we collectively suppress transmission.

The professional organization for local health officers has provided input on the state’s proposed plans, but it appears this has not been taken into consideration at this point, including an effort to revamp the entire public health jurisdiction during this pandemic. Dr. Locke will testify soon at the state capitol to emphasize the importance of heeding the advice of local public health professionals, as well as the proposal to revamp a well working model of local health jurisdictions.

Continue to check the Jefferson HealthCare website as the main clearing house for updates and opportunities for vaccinations.

Willie Bence of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) stated many people volunteered to staff the line that helps seniors get a vaccination appointment, when they have trouble getting into the JHC website or don’t have access to a computer. Their office line (360-344-9791) remains open weekdays from 9-4pm.

If you leave a message, it may be 48 hours before your call is returned due to the volume of calls. Mr. Bence encouraged all residents to use the JHC website as it will answer typical questions and is updated regularly. Also, volunteers are still needed for medical and non-medical roles as temporary emergency status.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.org. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting. 

KPTZ’s New Year Message

From Robert Ambrose, KPTZ Board President and DJ Host of The Rhythm Connection

On Monday, December 28, I eagerly tuned into KPTZ at 9:45am because, with the COVID-19 pandemic exponentially growing, I was hoping to hear the reasoned analysis presented by Dr. Locke every week to the Jefferson County Commissioners. But it wasn’t on! Not hearing Dr. Locke as expected was unsettling for me, and perhaps for you and many others, judging from the many calls and emails KPTZ received. There was no pandemic update because the commissioners did not meet due to the holiday, but its noted absence underlined KPTZ’s vital role keeping our community informed during local emergencies. That role is fundamental in our mission…

Click here to read the complete message

County Public Health Report ~ 1/11 (contd.)

  • Nationally, new COVID-19 cases have increased by 38% in the last two weeks, a pattern driven by recent holiday travel, repeated in many states. On January 7, Washington recorded more than 4,000 new cases, up 27% from the previous two weeks. Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 have increased slightly, but have not reached capacity.  
  • As of today, Jefferson County now has 255 cases, with 122.26 cases per 100,000 population, an increase from the previous week. Case positivity has increased from 4% to 4.335% this week. Neighboring Clallam County has 113 cases per 100,000 population with 5.7% new case positivity. Both counties are among the lowest in both metrics in Washington. However, travel to and from this county remains increasingly more risky as the rise in statewide cases continues. 
  • New regional cohorts created by the state tie our individual county data to improvements in four (4) key metrics among four (4) neighboring counties before progression to the next re-opening phase occurs. The state calculates progress based on the data individual counties report in a plan entitled Road to Recovery Plan.
  • Kitsap County, with the largest population,will have the biggest impact in our cohort with respect to progressing to Phase 2 of re-opening. Progress can be followed on the state DOH website
  • Jefferson County has received 3 shipments of COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government and has administered 76% of the doses, compared to only 30% of delivered doses administered nationwide. Remaining vials are being held for the 2nd dose for persons in the 1A priority category. 
  • Jefferson County will now begin vaccinations for the 1B priority category, starting with the eldest (85 and up) among us.  A drive-through clinic, by appointment, will begin January18, with approximately 550 doses to be given that day. TriCare Pharmacy has received the Moderna vaccine, but has limited supplies, with more pharmacies applying to receive vaccines.  About 7,000 county residents are in the 70 years of age and older category in 1B and Jefferson Healthcare will administer these vaccines as they become available from the state. While supplies now are limited, Dr. Locke expects this situation to be temporary until the new administration takes office. Availability for appointments and clinics will be announced on the Jefferson Healthcare and Public Health websites.

Answers to questions submitted by KPTZ listeners:

  • Citizens are encouraged to listen to their recorded messages left by unknown callers in case it is a message left by public health contact tracers with important medical information. Citizens can also register with “Notify WA” which is a cellphone app developed for contact tracing to see if you have been near a person who now tests positive for COVID-19. About 25% of the Washington residents are enrolled. 
  • COVID-19 restrictions are not a reason to restrict use of the community warming center for the homeless.  It requires vigilant infection control practices, as the homeless population is on the lowest tier of Phase 1B for vaccinations.
  • Increased COVID-19 cases here are NOT likely due to the new coronavirus strain. But it is inevitable that we may have this strain spread here because it is more conducive to spreading easily. 
  • Safer travel beginning in the summer is dependent on the supply of vaccine, and the numbers of persons vaccinated for the greatest protection. Travel with the United States may be safer than internationally.
  • Advice on gathering with friends after completed vaccinations is premature at this time. Five percent (5%) of persons vaccinated will not develop immunity and we must follow the public health recommendations until risk of infection is mediated by mass vaccination. 
  • Forty cases in our youth is a lower percentage than in other counties, telling us that our 0-19 population has been acting responsibly. Ages are spread across the range, with our first incidence of infection in a 2 months old. 
  • No case of influenza A or B have been reported in Jefferson County, with 2 cases of Influenza B reported by the state to date.  Public health guidelines for COVID-19 are having an impact on this seasons influenza case numbers.
  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases are defined by a positive test result with the molecular PCR test and probable cases are defined by a positive result with less-sensitive, quick antigen tests.
  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projection for the peak in deaths late January reflects an increased rise of the population at risk of complication when the general prevalence of COVID-19 cases increases. 
  • Gyms may now open on appointment basis only as specified in the “Road Map to Recovery” cited above with some restrictions specified depending on the square footage of the gym to accommodate distancing guidelines. 
  • All COVID-19 strains are captured by the currently available coronavirus tests. Epidemiologists are tracking the spread of new strains with sophisticated, but limited genomic testing. 
  • Essential workers listed in 1B, over 50 years of age may be dependent on verification of their status from their employers. Verification is not the purview of the health department and needs another mechanism, which has not been established as yet. 
  • Licensed massage workers are considered 1A priority category, which is defined as those who work physically close to clients, and tey can be vaccinated now. 
  • Currently, limited supplies of vaccines are expected to increase once the Biden/Harris administration is sworn in, with an aggressive rollout of supplies to the states.
  • Because the rollout to vaccinate residents and staff in congregate living settings has been slow to start, Jefferson County has used some of it’s vaccine supply to vaccinate staff at our local facilities. Current supplies of vaccines are now being used for residents. 
  • Clallam County is starting 1B vaccinations this week courtesy of the Jamestown Family Health Clinic run by the S’Kallam Tribe, who are responsible for vaccinating 1A priority residents in eastern Clallam County. 
  • Jefferson County residents should use Phase Finder and information from the local hospital to monitor availability and time for vaccination eligibility.  Dr. Locke wants everyone who makes an appointment to keep it as the supply we have right now has fragile handling limitations. 
  • The category 1B (50+ years of age in a multigenerational household) definition is being sent back to the state to be reworked.  The intent is to specify a population of elders that are more at risk in these settings.
  • Healthcare providers should not mix and match different vaccines to get to two doses. With increased funding in the recent relief bill, we will stick to the instructions of the vaccine producer according to the FDA licensing agreements. 

Department of Emergency Management Director Willie Bence reported: 

  • He is gratified by the response from retired medical professionals stepping up to assist with the vaccine rollout plans. 
  • A possible emergency waiver for current non-licensed retirees from the state is beginning to be considered. Some retired practitioners who have not renewed their license could assist in the observation area in mass vaccination clinics. 
  • Registration is the only activity at this time in preparation for mass vaccination clinics down the road.  Email any inquiries to JCDEM@co.Jefferson.wa.gov
  • Thanks to the Bainbridge Island retired medical core for assisting with vaccinations in Hadlock. 

Remember, the next Public Health update will occur on Tuesday, January 19th due to the Martin Luther King Holiday on Monday.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.org.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 1/08

Today on Through Science to Health Chris Bricker, KPTZ host, and Lynn Sorensen, RN welcomed Dr. Joe Mattern of Jefferson Health Care to join our conversation regarding the ongoing response to the pandemic. Joe Mattern, MD is JHC’s Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Director for JHC’s Home Health and Hospice. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have arrived in Jefferson County and healthcare workers were the first to be offered vaccinations.

Dr Mattern is charged with the logistics of what group of community members will be next for the vaccine. And how to best notify those selected. Not everyone has internet or uses JHC’s My Chart EMR. The CDC has advisory guidelines for the people most at risk for contracting COVID-19 but it is up to the individual states/Governors to decide on the distribution of the vaccine and who is next in line.

Brewocracy Now with John Mauro ~ 1/07

Today, City Manager John Mauro and KPTZ’s Tim Quackenbush talked about:

  • Police Chief selection
  • Loss of Parks Director Alex Wisnewski
  • COVID-19 functions provided by local government and efforts to pursue reimbursement 
  • Water Infrastructure project 
  • How to become involved with community decision-making during COVID-19.

County Public Health Report ~ 1/04

Today, Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke Locke shared his assessment of the pandemic in Jefferson County: Nationally, new cases have leveled off, although at a very high plateau. Record deaths and new cases have been recorded nationally and statewide. The most impacted areas still are Southern California and Arizona, with ICU capacity stretched to its limits. The consensus is that the worst still lies ahead.

Washington has leveled off with nearly 2,500 new cases a day. ICU bed capacity remains available, still with the chance to still accept transfers. Locally, Jefferson County recorded 25 cases in the last two weeks, with a slightly higher 78.7 cases per 100,000 population. Recent cases reported reflect holiday gatherings of households, which drove the surge and are expected to be reflected in new cases about mid-January. To date, we remain a county with one of the lowest rates in the state.

Dr. Locke stated that although holiday travel has brought new cases to our county, transmission to other community members can be stopped by the simple effort of quarantining yourself for 14 days and monitoring for symptoms of infection.

Dr. Locke also answered questions submitted from KPTZ listeners:

  • Revisiting your POLST directives regarding use of ventilators is wise, although current treatment for COVID-19 has improved, requiring use of ventilators less likely. One can make the distinction between use in futile care versus temporary use for recovery.
  • The two primary benefits of masking are trapping secretions from the source person and filtering the air you breathe. If your nose is uncovered, you are providing a direct route to the target cells of the coronavirus. The receptor cells are present in the highest numbers in your nose. It is also a violation of state law not to cover your nose when wearing a mask.
  • President-elect Biden’s national mandate for universal masking follows the science. It slows transmission and can prevent illness and deaths.
  • New viral strains are not uncommon as it is a well-established phenomenon that viruses mutate and errors can occur during replication. However, the newly discovered more infectious strains, one in Britain and South Africa have complicated the pandemic. Nearly 50% of identified close contacts in Britain are genetically linked to this more infectious strain. New vaccine technology includes genetic material from the whole spike protein and is unlikely to thwart the current vaccine.
  • Current vaccines in use have been granted under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA and are still considered experimental. Health care workers (HCWs) who have not taken the vaccine are not likely, at this point in time, to be required to be vaccinated. The vaccines are expected to “sell” themselves by their remarkable efficacy. It is expected that the hesitancy among HCWs may subside over time, but may be required when the vaccines get final approval from the FDA, as is seen with other vaccinations for infectious conditions.
  • Persons testing positive for COVID-19, without symptoms, should isolate for 10 days from the date of the test.
  • The process for establishing priority for limited supplies of vaccines has been in the works for months. CDC has an advisory committee that has produced a schematic based on the science of who is most at risk of morbidity and mortality. It is a tiered hierarchy that has been sent to all states as a guidance document. State governments have discretionary powers to make some changes based on the pandemic numbers in their respective states. In Washington, the Governor has produced a document for the 1A tier. Additional directions for 1B and 1C population specifics are expected this week. A number of issues continue to be considered and confound the timely rollout of these documents.
  • Age (over 75) is the single most independent variable of progression to serious disease and death when considering an individual’s placement in the vaccination hierarchy. Immune-suppressing health conditions at any age, or in combination with age, are a high priority.
  • The quantities of vaccines delivered to Jefferson County are highlighted at the hospital’s incident command meeting each week. As of today, 970 vaccinations have been administered, with 980 held in reserve for the upcoming second dose to be given this week as per Pfizer’s protocol. Dr. Locke states they are using the vaccines aggressively for those in the 1A tier.
  • Currently, 61% of healthcare workers in 1A have been vaccinated, with a goal of 70% fully vaccinated with two doses. Next, tier 1B and 1C will receive the first dose of the vaccine. Medical staff are waiting for the state document from the Governor’s Office for further clarification on 1B and 1C populations. By the middle of January, essential workers are expected to be vaccinated.
  • Handling requirements for the two available vaccines limits which local providers are able to provide vaccinations for the local population. Currently, we are advised to follow website information for Jefferson Healthcare for the notification process, or the Washington state DOH, listed above. All notifications are dependent upon governing documents, vaccine supplies and actual arrival of shipments.
  • The currently available vaccine (Pfizer) takes about 10-14 days to develop immunity to the virus. Pfizer’s vaccine, after the first dose alone, provides about 52% protection of developing severe disease if you are exposed and infected, with Moderna’s being higher with one dose. Vaccination with two doses of either vaccine provides 95% protection.
  • Herd immunity levels to bring this pandemic to a close needs to be about 75% of the current population in Jefferson County to be fully vaccinated.
  • Recent clinical trials of both available vaccines were not designed to study the effect on contagion or viral loads if a person becomes infected after getting the vaccine. These studies are currently being done. This requires participants in the trial, which is ongoing, to have their noses swabbed every other day, an intensive process.
  • Individuals in the 1B priority ranking are expected to be vaccinated within a few weeks. Continue to check the Jefferson Healthcare and Jefferson County Public Health websites listed above for information. A drive-thru clinic will be established in Manresa Castle parking lot and available by appointments.
  • For those households who have older individuals in different priority categories, clinical judgement should be used to vaccinate clusters within a residence, focusing on the highest risk individuals.
  • Currently, medical personnel are extracting 6 doses from each prepped vial of the Pfizer vaccine and they are on track not to waste a single dose. An on-call list has been established in the priority hierarchy if anyone misses an appointment so the dose will get used, as there is no preservative in this Pfizer vaccine.
  • A current controversy surrounds the issue of using all doses of the vaccine delivered for one dose only, then waiting until enough vaccine becomes available for a second dose to boost the immune response, as the supply becomes available. Most experts are against this variation as the clinical trials did not provide data on this scenario. If the goal is to STOP transmission, the vaccines need to be delivered on the schedule recommended by the manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. One possibility is that Moderna could be used this way as the dosage uses more micrograms of the genetic material than Pfizer and has good protection with the first dose.
  • Dr. Locke continues to meet every Tuesday with the local school districts. The focus remains on moving toward in-person attendance soon, with a robust plan for mitigation if and when a COVID-19 case is reported in these settings, which is expected.

Department of Emergency Management Director Willie Bence reported that area Fire and Rescue EMT’s are not currently involved in vaccine rollout, but may be in the future, but continue their regular duties. Citizens are reminded that road closure and power outages continue to pose problems and are reminded to update and refresh their emergency supplies and plans.

Mr. Bence did request any persons with medical backgrounds to please contact him to help as volunteers in the vaccination campaign. This would start the process to register as emergency workers.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.org.

Jefferson County December 2020 Case Numbers

This graph shows the monthly and cumulative number of COVID-19 infections reported in Jefferson County, from March through the end of 2020. Data source: Jefferson County Public Health Department website, graph created by KPTZ.

As of December 31, 2020 the total number of COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County was 225. There were 58 cases in December, down from the spike of 79 in November. 

KPTZ’s New Year Message

From Robert Ambrose, KPTZ Board President and DJ Host of The Rhythm Connection

On Monday, December 28, I eagerly tuned into KPTZ at 9:45am because, with the COVID-19 pandemic exponentially growing, I was hoping to hear the reasoned analysis presented by Dr. Locke every week to the Jefferson County Commissioners. But it wasn’t on! Not hearing Dr. Locke as expected was unsettling for me, and perhaps for you and many others, judging from the many calls and emails KPTZ received. There was no pandemic update because the commissioners did not meet due to the holiday, but its noted absence underlined KPTZ’s vital role keeping our community informed during local emergencies. That role is fundamental in our mission.

The past year has been the most disturbing and challenging in our recent history. We at KPTZ believe we provide an essential service for our community, and I am proud of our tiny staff and many volunteers for stepping up to meet pandemic challenges. Through extraordinary dedication, our many program hosts have continually provided you with solace and stimulation, letting everyone know they are not alone during this most lonely, isolated time. Our exceptional volunteer news team has expanded daily local news offerings to every weekday at 12 and 5pm to help keep you informed.

In addition to live public meeting broadcasts like Dr. Locke’s presentations, we present the Port Townsend City Manager every Thursday for your questions. KPTZ also has been steadily increasing its support for many local service organizations, by giving them voice through public service announcements and interviews, and more recently via media partnerships to amplify worthy campaigns and activities.

Notably, despite many challenges, KPTZ is moving forward with its ambitious project to build new studios at Fort Worden. Construction is nearly complete, and so is a lease that will give us stability for at least 19 years. We hope to celebrate moving into our new home by late summer, if indeed vaccinations and rational public behavior are able to quell the pandemic.

We would not have been able to do any of this without your support. Thank you!!

However the pandemic has prevented us from doing normal community radio fund-raising, the perhaps-stale week-long on-air drives that traditionally have provided over 80% of our revenue. That $30,000 hole in our budget now needs to be filled, and I am asking you to please consider making your new year contribution to KPTZ a generous one.

Contributions may be made online at the Donate link above, and we love receiving checks in the mail as well: KPTZ, PO Box 2091, Port Townsend WA 98368. If you are interested in directing an annual distribution or a stock donation to KPTZ, we can describe the tax advantages and help you. Feel free to email me personally.

Thank you immensely for your support.

I hope you and yours are staying safe and well.
With best wishes for a safe and peaceful new year,

Robert Ambrose
President, KPTZ Board of Directors
Host, Rhythm Connection (Tuesdays 1-3pm)

Credit for collage art: Lynn Sorensen, photo by Buzzy Donahue

#167 Lance Bailey

(First airdate: December 29, 2020) PLANNING PT’S PRESENT & FUTURE. Our Town host Maryanne McNellis interviews Lance Bailey, the Development Services Director for the city of Port Townsend. His department issues permits for all projects – large and small. Remodeling your kitchen? Building a large apartment building? Talk to Lance and his team. Contrary to popular wisdom, there are at least two apartment buildings about to be green-lighted. Housing accessibility is a huge problem around here. The COVID-19 crisis has heightened the problem – house prices are skyrocketing. People from the big cities and even “climate refugees” (people fleeing the massive wildfires) are desperate to move to small picture-perfect places like this. But we have to get broadband to the end of the road. Planning our future is almost impossible.

KPTZ Goes to the JCL Gala!

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jefferson County Library has remained an essential hub, operating its bookmobile and curbside pickup, as well as a host of online resources. Now it’s time to give a little back with the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball! It’s the library’s invitation to you to join its virtual gala.

Here’s how it works: Check out one or more books now through the end of December; enjoy a good read with tea or coffee provided by the library; then take the money you saved by skipping a big night out and donate it to the library.

It’s not just about books anymore! The library is a source for music, movies, knowledge, and entertainment. To learn more, go to the Jefferson County Library’s website or follow the library on Facebook.

The library’s been there for us all, through these difficult months. The Stay Home and Read a Book Ball is the best way we can say “Thanks” to our library!

Andrew Griffith

(Airdate: October 9, 2020) Andrew Griffith, co-owner of Cafe Tenby, on COVID-19 pivots and Wales.

Crucial Point in the Pandemic

As Jefferson County awaits and shifts part of its COVID-19 response to the arrival and distribution of long-awaited vaccines, KPTZ brings you an important message for your consideration regarding the state of our COVID-19 epidemic. 

This year, holiday gatherings present a challenge to our celebratory expectations. It’s so tempting to want to gather with friends and family during this holiday.  It’s what we expect and want to do this time of year….but we are faced with the fact that COVID-19 cases are being reported in greater numbers now than in the beginning of the pandemic.

Following warnings from government and public health officials, many Americans either stayed home or limited the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings. In nearly all counties, people had fewer contacts this Thanksgiving than they did last year…but cases are still rising. As one public health official stated, ”The fact is, many people took precautions and that helped towards slowing the steep increase in cases … but it’s not been enough. Many of our hospitals are close to running out of ICU beds and staff to care for really sick people.” The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has projected that our state will run out of ICU beds in early January 2021. The surge of COVID-19 cases is threatening the well-being of our medical professionals. as well as tragically having to consider rationing our medical care.

Every community sits at a crossroad. Our individual and collective behavior is crucial in determining whether coronavirus cases continue to rise over the next few months. Our efforts at masking, distancing, and hand-washing served us well when there was a low amount of virus circulating, but each surge has increased the level of circulating virus enough to make an impact now. We need to use every action and recommendation from public health professionals to dramatically shut down the continued spread of this virus.

Here is what we know works:
• Following public health recommendations reduces new COVID-19 cases. 
• Distancing provides the best protection from coming into contact with the virus.
• You get an added layer of protection when social distancing is paired with wearing a mask over your nose and mouth any time you step out your front door. 
• And handwashing is always a defense against spreading germs.

Your greatest risk for exposure to the virus is being inside a closed environment. The more time you spend inside, the more likelihood of exposure and infection. Our public health officer Dr. Tom Locke has stated that small gatherings with people who don’t currently live in our house currently drive the increase in cases in Jefferson County. Case investigation and contact tracing is critical to reduce the spread of any communicable disease. When the number of cases outpaces the local resources available, it becomes more difficult to quickly identify and quarantine infectious persons and their close contacts. Although it’s typical for viruses to mutate, a lower number of cases means fewer chances to mutate. 

The good news: here is what we can do going forward: 
• In November our Governor, upon the advice of health professionals, asked us to forgo the traditional family and friends gatherings we typically have this time of year. More of us need to keep this up until the cases go down to a manageable level.
• If you have any symptoms typical of COVID-19 infection, get tested. Don’t hesitate.
• Re-visit what you consider are your basic and indispensable needs. Dr. Locke has encouraged us not to skip routine or preventative medical and dental care, but cautions us to reduce travel to nearby counties that have a greater surge in new cases. 
• Staying home is still safest. To get essential supplies, keep it quick, keep your distance and wear a face covering. 
• Support local businesses. Many of our local merchants and restaurants have demonstrated their willingness to adapt their services with curbside pick-up. Supporting them makes it possible for them to survive this pandemic.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the health and safety of our communities, our workforce and our beloved businesses.

Compass for 12/26/20

Last week two vaccines developed in record-smashing time were rolled out nationwide to address the COVID-19 pandemic just as infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease also hit new records worldwide. At the same time, there has been a different kind of viral spread of questionable information about the disease, its treatment, and the new vaccines.

This week on the Compass we talk once again with Jefferson County Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke, who addresses a couple of the videos that have gone viral online, and then we talk about the local roll-out of the vaccine.

Local News for 12/23

December 23, 2020: Local News – Governor restricts travel amid new COVID-19 strain; Hurricane Ridge open for holidays. (TRANSCRIPT)

County Public Health Report ~ 12/21

Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke shared an update regarding the pandemic picture in Jefferson County: The national picture continues to show certain region experiencing steep increase in new infections, while other regions’ new cases are slowing. The South and Southwest U.S. are experiencing the greatest increase in new infections. Overall, new infections are up 10% over the last two weeks and the deaths continue. Washington’s cases are plateauing, with new cases slowing. Hospitalization use is at an all time high. Counties surrounding Jefferson continue to be higher than state guidelines for suppression of the virus, but beginning to slow. Jefferson County stands at 59.6 per 100,000 population, down from the last update and 2-3% of all tests are positive.

Vaccines arrived in Jefferson County last Tuesday. 975 doses, about half of which have been administered, came on Tuesday. Appointments continue to be made for those on the priority list. Priority categories can be viewed on the Washington State Department of Health website. Prioritizations initially are issued from the CDC as well as state and local entities as needed. Dr. Locke estimates about 1 million persons will step forward to be vaccinated by the end of February 2021.

Approaching the end-of-year holidays, Dr. Locke reminds us that we have not yet seen the worst of the winter surge. Locally our behavior over the Thanksgiving holiday changed enough to avoid a community surge. Cases continue to be primarily among those who mix household members or who receive visitors from outside our county, who unknowing infect those household members. Restricting movement among members of different households is easier and needs to continue to avoid a surge that could appear after the holidays. See the recommendations on the JC Public Health website. Testing for travel is still limited in Jefferson County. Washington will begin a program for vouchers for COVID-19 testing through Walgreens.

Answers to questions from KPTZ listeners:

  • After traveling, it is not necessary to forgo scheduled medical or dental visits, except when receiving invasive dental procedures. Discuss with your provider.
  • Suicides are thought to rise during the holidays, when in fact, they do not. What does increase is drinking, anxiety and drug use.
  • COVID-19 theoretically can be introduced to your eyes and travel to your nose, where it gains entry to your body, but is typically inhaled through the nose.
  • The amounts of vaccine doses shipped to each state are based on the percent of the population present in each priority group established by the CDC. It is a description of those at highest risk of serious disease and exposure. Local counties have some leeway to adjust the hierarchy. Review by a consortium of experts on vaccine safety for the western states will not hold up distribution to our state.
  • Two-thirds of coronavirus negative tests are primarily taken when someone has symptoms or has exposure to a positive case. One-third are taken for those undergoing pre-procedure testing. No influenza has been seen in Jefferson County to date.
  • Improvement in health outcomes for serious COVID-19 disease has come from improved clinical management. Newer FDA-approved drugs have made modest improvements. Masking appears to reduce infectious viral dose.
  • To avoid recurring surges, masking needs to improve. Trend toward more aggressive enforcement of masking and a possible ban on face shields for improved source control may be on the horizon. Discussions are also looking at strategies for enforcement of store capacity to reduce spread.
  • COVID-19 tests for travel and families who want small gatherings are limited. Other options are purchasing test kits in stores or online.
  • Vaccinations stimulate your body to react to the presence of a virus or bacteria. Current vaccines for COVID-19 prevent progression to serious clinical illness, as measured in the randomized clinical trials. Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will provide 95% protection of stopping the virus from sufficiently reproducing. Infectiousness of individuals after they got the vaccine and got infected were not studied in the trial, but are underway. Assume that 5% of the population who gets the vaccine and gets the virus can spread the virus, as the vaccine was not protective enough to stop the virus from rapidly reproducing.
  • Continued masking is critical as the vaccine fails in about 5% of those getting the shot. We also need to get about 60-70% of the population inoculated to sufficiently suppress circulation of the virus.
  • There is no need to have anyone test for previous COVID-19 infection as determined by antibody tests. The degree of protection from natural infection is variable. Vaccines may be better protection than natural infection. It’s not a problem to get the vaccine if they have concurrent asymptomatic infection. If symptomatic, the advice is to have symptoms clear before getting the vaccine.
  • New strains appear because viruses are always mutating, especially the COVID-19. The new strain seen in England and South Africa has been under the radar of scientists since September of this year. It appears to facilitate faster spread as evidenced in the change in the R naught number, 1.1 to 1.5. It appears to be 70% more effective in spreading quickly. Mutations rarely affect vaccine effectiveness. New mRNA technology makes adapting vaccines easier.
  • All vaccines have expected and well documented side effects. More serious adverse events have been seen with these vaccines such as anaphylactic shock. This reaction has been seen before and is treatable. With more individuals vaccinated, we will discover more rare adverse events, but the important word is “rare”.
  • The Department of Emergency Management does not currently have a role in vaccine distribution or rollout at this time; They will follow the lead actions as determined by Jefferson Healthcare and the Public Health Officer, Dr. Tom Locke.

There will be no BOCC Public Health update on December 28th. They are in recess and will return January 4, 2021.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.org.