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County Public Health Report ~ 5/06/24

The following is a recording of the presentation during the Public Health briefing at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Jefferson and Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry. The summary below was provided by Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

Dr. Berry and the commissioners talked about getting less information on COVID-19 from CDC, long COVID, Avian Flu, as well as thanks for KPTZ’s contribution to getting the word out on COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Please note that the monthly health report here is taking a hiatus until September.

County Public Health Report ~ 4/01/24

Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry and Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence spoke to commissioners and the public at the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting Monday April 1st for the monthly Health Report, and answered questions from KPTZ listeners and the commissioners.

Dr. Berry said that three respiratory illnesses have dipped in number; RSV, Flu, and Covid-19 are all downtrending. She said in terms of Covid-19 that across the US, hospitalizations are down and locally there is far less of the virus in Port Townsend wastewater. Covid is still here however, so she recommends wearing a mask in the airport, while boarding and during descent while traveling by air. 

Measles was mentioned and the reason there is any in the US is because fewer people are getting vaccinated, she said. Especially in children, it can cause severe disease and require quarantine of 21 days for kids to stay home from school, whether they have measles or haven’t been vaccinated should there be an outbreak at school. But right now there seems to be no measles here in Jefferson County or in the I-5 corridor of Puget Sound.

Willie Bence said there will be an event with helpful information about wildfire and smoke impacts especially for those in sensitive groups (children, the elderly, and anyone with asthma or other respiratory illnesses) on Wednesday, April 10 at Finnriver Cider Garden from 5:30 to 7pm.

County Public Health Report ~ 3/11/24

The following is a recording 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.

In her report to the Jefferson Board of County Commissioners, Dr. Berry explained the new CDC guidance which breaks from self-isolation with COVID infections, (because cases are getting less severe) and a new recommendation that anyone 65+ should get another booster if it has been more than 4 months. Dr. Berry describes the new CDC guidance as a replacement of public health directives with individual guidelines and protections (Wear a mask! Get a booster!)

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence said that March, April and May can be a slow time for the EOC (fingers crossed) He recommended that people sign up for NIXLE ALERTS and described how to do that, including setting personal preferences on the NIXLE website.

County Public Health Report ~ 2/05/24

The following is a recording 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 about safe travel options on winter roads this season.

County Public Health Report ~ 1/02/24

Public Health Officer for Jefferson and Clallam Counties, Dr. Allison Berry gave a public health report to the Jefferson Board of County Commissioners on January 2, 2024. Also along was Jefferson County Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence. Dr. Berry mentioned that there is a surge going on of COVID-19, especially of the latest variant: JN-1. Gatherings and events around the holidays contributed to the surge, and she said there are also more cases of Influenza and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and now strep. She said that a sore throat with a fever, without hoarseness and loss of voice are the hallmarks of strep. Because strep is a bacterial infection antibiotics are indicated, so getting a throat swab at the doctor’s office is needed. She also said that if a parent suspects their child has any of these maladies that calling the doctor’s office in the middle of the night is possible and a good idea. In answer to a listener’s question about deer being carriers of COVID, for most people keeping your distance from deer would keep you safe. You will get Covid by being exposed to people who have Covid-19. Hunters should mask and wear gloves while dressing their prey. Willie Bence spoke about the mild winter we have had so far, which is likely to continue and that the Warming Center in the Pope Marine Building in downtown Port Townsend is open every day. He also spoke about the NIXLE Alert service, a voluntary free subscription service which can provide warnings in the event of emergencies and extreme traffic delays on major routes of more than a half an hour. You can sign up on the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management website.

County Public Health Report ~ 12/11/23

Today on KPTZ’s Health update by Dr. Allison Berry she congratulated both Jefferson and Clallam county residents for having the highest flu vaccine rate in Washington state! Flu cases are on the rise in other parts of the state and country but not locally.
There were two hospitalizations this past week at JHC for Covid but she stressed that primarily people hospitalized over the past month were not up to date on their vaccinations, had under lying medical conditions, and were in the 60-80 year old higher risk age range. Dr Berry encouraged older residents to get the RSV vaccine and that vaccine is covered by Medicare Part B, otherwise it could be quite pricey. The next health update to the BOCC will be Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

County Public Health Report ~ 11/06/23

The following is a recording 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 following is a summary by Lynn Sorensen.

Dr Berry’s health briefing stressed that Covid, while still active in Jefferson and Clallam counties, may be on the downtrend similar to other parts of the USA. Dr Berry reported there had been recent hospitalizations in both counties and there had been two deaths in Jefferson county the past month. All had multiple underlying medical conditions and were all also not up to date on their Covid vaccinations. She encouraged all who have not yet received the most recent Covid booster to do so. RSV vaccinations are available and RSV cases were expected to show up locally in the next month. Cases of Flu have not yet been detected, but will, the incidence of flu will increase as winter progresses. All three of these respiratory infections are mitigated by the wearing a close fitting mask, especially in crowded indoor settings.

Willie Bence spoke to the use of tsunami sirens in response to a listener’s question asking if these sirens could have different tones for different emergencies.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/02/23

The following is a recording 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. Anna Piasecki, Program Coordinator sat in for  Willie Bence, Director of Emergency Management, and gave a report. She spoke about the GREAT SHAKEOUT, the earthquake preparedness drill taking place on October 19 at 10:19am.

As reported by Jim Burke, during the Public Health report to the BOCC, Dr. Allison Berry said we are in the midst of a real COVID-19 surge here now. Across the US, cases have plateaued so we should level off here too in the coming weeks. The cases are all the common omicron variants that the new booster shots are designed to ward off. The booster shot supplies have been a bit short, but are becoming more available. Anyone who has had a recent case should wait two months before seeking the booster. Flu and RSV shots ARE available now, but those cases are low right now. If anyone wants fewer side effects they can space out the vaccine shots by a couple of weeks, but the COVID-19 booster should be FIRST as COVID-19 cases are everywhere now in the community.

County Public Health Report ~ 9/05/23

The following is a recording 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 Peninsula Daily News quoted Dr. Berry: “This is not going back to 2020…I am not thinking we are going to overrun our hospitals.” Berry said COVID-19 levels were rising locally and across the national but that hospitalizations are still low; particularly among those who are up to date on their vaccines.

County Public Health Report ~ 8/07/23

The following is a recording 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 Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

The most recent monthly COVID dashboard report on The Jefferson County Public Health website, dated July 19, said there were 2.4 billion copies of the SARS-COVID-2 gene per person, per day in Port Townsend wastewater. That data indicated an upward trend in the presence of COVID-19 in our community as KPTZ News reported last week. Since that time, however those numbers have fallen off, which brings us to the Board of County Commissioners meeting yesterday, August 7 and reports from Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence and Public Health Officer for Jefferson and Clallam Counties, Dr. Allison Berry.

Dr. Berry, of course had the latest COVID-19 numbers and information about vaccines available in the fall for anyone over 60 and they include the flu vaccine, a COVID-19 XBB booster which covers most of the current Omicron variants and a new vaccine for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus.) There was one COVID-19 death in Jefferson County this past month of a patient in their 90s who was not vaccinated. That brings the death count here to 40. She went on to answer listener questions including one about Vaccines and Mammography, and pointed out that vaccines can cause lymph nodes in the armpits to enlarge. She assured everyone that Radiologists have been acutely aware that this normal immune response can show up in mammograms and the pandemic has brought this issue into focus. If you can time the vaccinations and the mammograms a few weeks apart, that’s great, but if you cannot, go ahead and do both when you can. She stressed that both are very important.