Virus Watch Podcasts

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/24/22

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 Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

The Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners Meeting took place yesterday, and Dr. Tom Locke, who was in for Dr. Allison Berry, and Willie Bence, Director of Emergency Management spoke to the commissioners during the Public Health Briefing. This was the final weekly briefing in October, and for the foreseeable future. The 31st is the fifth Monday of the month, so the Board isn’t meeting, and then the Public Health Briefings are going to go to one per month, on the third Monday of the month. So the next Public Health Briefing should be November 21.

In Jefferson County, the two-week COVID-19 case rate is 240 per hundred thousand, lower than last week, but still in the high category. Two people are currently hospitalized. 36 new cases were added this week for a total of 6,110 cases. No additional death was reported this week in Jefferson County. The total count of COVID-19-related deaths stands at 32.

In Clallam County, the dashboard on the website has not been updated since last week so the two-week COVID-19 case rate is 136 per hundred thousand. There are 38 new cases this week for a total of 15,735 cases since the pandemic began. One person is hospitalized at this time. The total count of COVID-19-related deaths is now at 125.

Dr. Locke said we are doing okay now, but this lull we are experiencing locally will likely give way to another surge. He used the analogy of a three act play to describe the pandemic: He said “We are still in Act II, “and the beginning of Act III will reveal how prepared we are for the end of the pandemic.” The South and the eastern US are starting to see a rise in Flu cases early; European countries and Singapore are seeing another surge in COVID-19 cases, and here in the US there is a rise of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. Many Children’s hospitals east of here are stretched to capacity with very young children hospitalized with RSV. These increases in Flu and RSV cases are not surprising, Dr. Locke said. After two years of mask wearing and quarantine there is not an abundance of community immunity to fend off these infections. The best course of action, he said, is to get the flu shot, get the COVID-19 bivalent booster before the holidays. Wear a mask in indoor settings and increase ventilation wherever possible in indoor settings. Avoid large gatherings.

The next two COVID-19 mutations of concern are probably coming our way in the next month to six weeks, and they are both immunity avoidant, that is they can get by even our double and triple boosted immunity, but having the vaccines, and even being exposed to COVID-19 in the community can help keep those cases mild and out of the hospital.

Willie Bence said 100 slots were reserved in a covalent booster clinic held this past Saturday, which was to be for children 5 to 17 years of age, but they opened it to all. An additional 60 people waited in line to receive their Covalent booster at Blue Heron School in Port Townsend. The covalent MNRA booster shot as well as the Novovax shot and booster are available at your local pharmacy. The Novovax booster is still based on the original virus, but is available to those who wouldn’t or couldn’t get the MRNA vaccine.

There is a mobile Vaccination & Booster Clinic (Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax) for anyone 6 months or older this coming Sunday, October 30 from 1-4pm at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Avenue in Port Townsend. Sign up at https://tinyurl.com/ptvaxclinic.
Homebound? Receive a home visit for a COVID-19 vaccination by leaving a message at 360-344-9791.
Interested in receiving the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine?

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to Willie Bence by emailing [email protected] Note: The deadline for these to be submitted is on Friday, November 18 at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/17/22

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 Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

In Jefferson County, the two-week COVID-19 case-rate is 355 per hundred thousand, lower than last week, but still keeping us in the high category. No one is currently hospitalized. 47 new cases were added this week for a total of 6,074 cases. One more death was reported this week in Jefferson County, a woman who was in her 80s. She had received one booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and she suffered from multiple, chronic health conditions. So now the total count of COVID-19-related deaths is 32.

In Clallam County, the two-week COVID-19 case-rate is 136 per hundred thousand, still in the moderate category but continuing a downward trend. There are 38 new cases this week for a total of 15,735 cases since the pandemic began. One person is hospitalized at this time. One person has died, which puts the total count of COVID-19-related deaths now at 125.

Willie Bence said there are many slots open in a juvenile covalent booster clinic for kids 5 to 17 years of age, taking place this coming Saturday October 22 at Blue Heron School in Port Townsend. Sign up on the Jefferson County Public Health website. Also, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting a flu shot.

The Covid public health emergency declaration will end on October 31, so Dr. Berry’s Health Reports will go to once a month. If you have any lingering COVID-19, or monkeypox, or any other public health related questions, you might want to send them in over the next few weeks.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/10/22

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 Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

In Jefferson County, the two-week COVID-19 case-rate is 488 per hundred thousand, similar to last week. No one is currently hospitalized. 66 new cases were added this week for a total of 6,027 cases. Jefferson County’s total count of COVID-19-related deaths is still 31. Dr. Berry said the higher case rate is being driven by cases in schools at this point.

In Clallam County the two-week COVID case-rate is 147 per hundred thousand, 61 new cases for a total of 15,697 cases since the pandemic began. 1 person is hospitalized at this time. Clallam County’s total count of COVID-19-related deaths is still 124.

Willie Bence said there are many slots open in a covalent booster clinic taking place this coming Saturday October 15 in Chimacum. Sign up on the Jefferson County Public Health website. Also, talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist about a flu shot. Br. Berry says there’s an uptick in cases in the east and southern US, and the flu will be back this year.

The Covid public health emergency declaration will end on October 31, so BOCC Health Reports will go to once a month. If you have any lingering COVID-19, monkeypox, or any other public health related questions, you might want to send them in over the next few weeks.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/03/22

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 Jim Burke, producer of KPTZ’s Tuesday’s Local News.

Dr. Berry said the national COVID-19 trends are mixed. Cases and hospitalizations are declining, but over 400 people are still dying every day across the US. The Northeast and the West coast are starting to see another rise in cases, and this includes Washington State where cases are up 11% overall, but especially among older patients in long-term care who are getting sick and being hospitalized due to COVID-19, on the east side of the state where vaccination, even in those facilities, is less common.

In Jefferson County, the two-week COVID-19 case rate is 460 per hundred thousand, a definite rise from last week and that keeps Jeffco in the high category. No one is currently hospitalized. 108 new cases were added this week for a total of 5,961 cases. Jefferson County’s total count of COVID-19-related deaths is still 31. Dr. Berry says the rise in cases is being driven by a rise in cases in schools at this point.

In Clallam County the two-week COVID-19 case-rate is 170 per hundred thousand, 59 new cases for a total of 15,636 cases since the pandemic began. 2 people are hospitalized at this time. Clallam County’s total count of COVID-19-related deaths is still 124. There has been only one detected case of MPV in Clallam County.

Everyone 12 and over who has had a booster shot more than two months ago is now eligible for the bivalent booster shot, and Dr. Berry says there is now ample supply. So now, even if you are not in a high-risk group you can and should seek out the bivalent booster.

Commissioner Eisenhour asked Dr. Berry what will happen on October 31, when the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends. Funding for Dr. Berry’s work will decrease dramatically, so in November the frequency of Public Health Briefings will go to once a month. If you have any lingering COVID-19 or monkeypox or any other public-health-related questions for Dr. Berry, you might want to send them in over the next four weeks.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report ~ 9/26/22

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.

Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry today said that Jefferson’s case rates for COVID-19 are flat from last week, although two people are currently hospitalized. She reported that Omicron-specific boosters are widely available in our community, through vaccination clinics, local pharmacies, Safeway in Port Townsend, and Jefferson Healthcare. The vaccine is available to anyone 12 years and older,and if it’s been 2 months since your infection with COVID-19 or two months since your last vaccination.

There are still no documented cases of MPV in Jefferson County. Nationwide, there are more than 24,000 cases reported. Dr. Berry urges all those who have had multiple partners in the last year, or any gay or bisexual person who has sex with men regardless of one’s sexual history to be vaccinated. Public Health has the vaccine available – call them at 360-385-9400 or sign up online: https://tinyurl.com/mpvvaccinejeffco.

Flu season is here and Dr. Berry encourages you to get your flu shot which can be done at the same time you are getting the COVID-19 Omicron vaccine. She said masking goes a long way to reduce transmission of the flu, too and suggested that we should mask indoors to protect our vulnerable citizens. “The biggest thing that we can do to protect ourselves and our community as we move into the fall is to get vaccinated with our COVID-19 boosters and our flu shot,” Dr. Berry said. “That’s how we protect ourselves, our neighbors and our healthcare system as we move into the fall.”

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence announced two new vax clinics using the Pfizer bivalent vaccine are scheduled for the community at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend Saturday, October 1; and at Quilcene School on October 8. Call the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) or go to the Public Health website to sign up. DEM is considering adding more clinics late in October.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report ~ 9/19/22

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.

During today’s County Commissioner Covid update, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry, said, “the news is positive.” In Jefferson, COVID-19 case rates are flat at 324/100,000. Positivity is downtrending to 8.5%, with a case ascertainment rate of about 50%. There’s been a dramatic drop off in wastewater surveillance in Port Townsend, down about 75% in July, and last month down about 20%. No one is hospitalized for COVID-19 locally. One death occurred last week, a woman in her 80s with multiple chronic conditions who was fully vaccinated but not boosted.

Dr. Berry urges anyone over 65 to get the Omicron-specific booster. She notes it’s the same base formulation for the vaccine, but the target is different. It’s specifically targeted to BA.4 and BA.5 which are the current circulating variants. “Unlike the other boosters that have come before, this one really promises to prevent symptomatic disease as a whole, not just prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death,” she said. Jefferson has a limited supply of the vaccine, but should be getting more within the text month. “If you are over 65, if you are immunosuppressed, or if you are a healthcare worker or a first responder – primarily because we take care of those folks at high risk – we recommend you get vaccinated in this first round,” Dr. Berry said. “For everyone else in our community, we strongly recommend you get vaccinated, too. But we’d really encourage you to hold on for about a month so that we can get these highest risk folks vaccinated first.” Mass vaccination booster clinics were previously announced but available appointments are already filled. Options include Jefferson Healthcare and local pharmacies. You can also put your name on a wait-list via the Jefferson County Public Health website.

Dr. Berry clarified some misinformation about the Omicron specific booster: “There’s some misinformation circulating saying that there weren’t safety trials for the Omicron-specific booster and that’s not true,” Dr. Berry said. “This vaccine is the same one that we’ve been using this whole time. So all of the safety trials related to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also apply to the Omicron specific booster. The only change is the target. So the most similar analogy I could share is that when we vaccinate for the flu every year, we change the target every year to whatever variants are circulating in the world.” She continued, “But we don’t do a whole new round of safety trials every fall prior to rolling out the flu vaccine because the base vaccine is the same. So that’s why you’re not seeing a new round of safety trials. It’s not not normal to do when the base vaccine is the same and the target is different. So it’s just targeting the Omicron variants as opposed to the wild type theory.”

The State of Emergency that was put in place by Governor Jay Inslee will end October 31. Dr. Berry reported that many of the orders related to COVID-19 have already expired or have been revoked, with only a few remaining concerning emergency credentialing. “The one order that is not expiring is the requirement for masks in healthcare settings,” Dr. Berry explained. “So as long term care facility, certain correctional settings and all healthcare facilities, you can expect your providers will still be masked in those settings and you will be expected to wear a mask as well.”

Dr. Berry said there were no reported cases of Monkeypox (MPV) in Jefferson County and one in Clallam County. In the state, 497 cases have been diagnosed; nationwide there are over 21,000 cases. Jefferson has the Jynneos vaccine and is vaccinating now. Anyone can get MPV. Vaccine eligibility has been extended to include those who have had an STI in the last year, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, and anyone who has injected drugs in the last few months.

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence said our degraded air quality is improving rapidly here in Jefferson County as the wind has shifted to an onshore flow. A large fire near Stevens Pass combined with a small brush fire locally at the intersection of 104 and 101 led to the unhealthy air. Bence also referenced the 3.7 magnitude earthquake that occurred Thursday morning on the Toandos Peninsula. He requested that those who felt it be “citizen scientists” and complete the “Did You Feel It?“ questionnaire for the USGS.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report ~ 9/12/22

The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

During today’s County Commissioner COVID-19 update, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry, said, “the news is positive.” In Jefferson, COVID-19 case rates are flat at 324/100,000. Positivity is downtrending to 8.5%, with a case ascertainment rate of about 50%. There’s been a dramatic drop off in wastewater surveillance in Port Townsend, down about 75% in July, and last month down about 20%. No one is hospitalized for COVID-19 locally. One death occurred last week, a woman in her 80s with multiple chronic conditions who was fully vaccinated but not boosted.

Dr. Berry urges anyone over 65 to get the Omicron-specific booster. She notes it’s the same base formulation for the vaccine, but the target is different. It’s specifically targeted to BA.4 and BA.5 which are the current circulating variants. “Unlike the other boosters that have come before, this one really promises to prevent symptomatic disease as a whole, not just prevent severe disease, hospitalization and death,” she said. Jefferson has a limited supply of the vaccine, but should be getting more within the text month. “If you are over 65, if you are immunosuppressed, or if you are a healthcare worker or a first responder – primarily because we take care of those folks at high risk – we recommend you get vaccinated in this first round,” Dr. Berry said. “For everyone else in our community, we strongly recommend you get vaccinated, too. But we’d really encourage you to hold on for about a month so that we can get these highest risk folks vaccinated first.” Mass vaccination booster clinics were previously announced but available appointments are already filled. Options include Jefferson Healthcare and local pharmacies. You can also put your name on a wait list via the Jefferson County Public Health website.

Dr. Berry clarified some misinformation about the Omicron specific booster: “There’s some misinformation circulating saying that there weren’t safety trials for the Omicron-specific booster and that’s not true,” Dr. Berry said. “This vaccine is the same one that we’ve been using this whole time. So all of the safety trials related to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also apply to the Omicron specific booster. The only change is the target…So the most similar analogy I could share is that when we vaccinate for the flu every year, we change the target every year to whatever variants are circulating in the world.” She continued,”But we don’t do a whole new round of safety trials every fall prior to rolling out the flu vaccine because the base vaccine is the same. So that’s why you’re not seeing a new round of safety trials. It’s not not normal to do when the base vaccine is the same and the target is different. So it’s just targeting the Omicron variants as opposed to the wild type theory.”

The State of Emergency that was put in place by Governor Jay Inslee will end October 31. Dr. Berry reported that many of the orders related to COVID-19 have already expired or have been revoked, with only a few remaining concerning emergency credentialing. “The one order that is not expiring is the requirement for masks in healthcare settings,” Dr. Berry explained. “So aT long-term care facilitIES, certain correctional settings, and all healthcare facilities, you can expect your providers will still be masked in those settings and you will be expected to wear a mask as well.”

Dr. Berry said there were no reported cases of Monkeypox (MPV) in Jefferson County and one in Clallam County. In the state, 497 cases have been diagnosed; nationwide there are over 21,000 cases. Jefferson has the Jynneos vaccine and is vaccinating now. Anyone can get MPV. Vaccine eligibility has been extended to include those who have had a STI (sexually transmitted infection) in the last year, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, and anyone who has injected drugs in the last few months.

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence said our degraded air quality is improving rapidly here in Jefferson County as the wind has shifted to an onshore flow. A large fire near Stevens Pass combined with a small brush fire locally at the intersection of 104 and 101 led to the unhealthy air. Bence also referenced the 3.7 magnitude earthquake that occurred Thursday morning on the Toandos Peninsula. He requested that those who felt it be “citizen scientists” and complete the “Did You Feel It/“ questionnaire for the USGS. Here’s a link.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report ~ 8/22/22

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.

Cases of Omicron are falling across the US and that’s true for Jefferson as well. Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry today said that our case rate is 463/100,000 with a 13% positivity are, down from last week. Our case ascertainment rate hovers around 40%. Two people who were hospitalized last week have been discharged, however one person is still a patient at Jefferson Healthcare. Dr. Berry said the Port Townsend sewer measurement for COVID-19 is also down by about 15% from last week. “COVID-19 can still be very dangerous and especially if you’re over 65 It’s really important to move forward and get your second booster at this point” she said. “The most important thing any of us can do to protect ourselves and others is to stay up to date in our vaccines, and then also to wear a high quality mask when we’re indoors around others.

Omicron-specific boosters are going to be available a bit earlier than originally scheduled – now as soon as mid-September. It is unknown how much vaccine will be delivered to Jefferson. Dr. Berry said the shot will be prioritized for those at highest risk, particularly those over 65. Public Health will again work with DEM and healthcare colleagues to gear up for vaccination clinics. Plans are currently in development. The vaccination should be available through Jefferson Healthcare and local pharmacies as well.

MPV is not circulating in Jefferson County, but there has been a diagnosed case In Clallam. Reports are that the man did not contract it through sex, but at a dance party through skin-to-skin contact. Contact tracing has taken place. “We know that this virus is disproportionately affecting the gay community but it can affect anyone,” Dr. Berry explained. “It’s just spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact. If you have any rash that’s atypical for you, particularly a painful one, please do get tested right away.”

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 week’s BOCC meeting (on Tuesday, September 6 due to Labor Day).

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 8/08/22

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 cases in Jefferson County are experiencing a downturn, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry reported to Commissioners Monday. The case rate is 547/100, with a 17% positivity. She said that suggests approximately a 40% case ascertainment rate. One person remains hospitalized from last week and “has been quite ill and remains ventilated.” It is reported this person was unvaccinated. “We still are only catching about less than half of the cases that we have,” she explained. “The COVID-19 front is starting to improve and that is very hopeful on our end. It’s unclear yet how much longer that trend will continue but we are hopeful that we’re seeing numbers turn around in the right direction.”

For those who have been concerned about vaccine formulations for COVID-19, the CDC has published an ingredients list for Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax and J&J Janssen.

For example, here is a link to the Novavax vaccine ingredients. The site explains, “All COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured with as few ingredients as possible and with very small amounts of each ingredient. Each ingredient in the vaccine serves a specific purpose…” This page also show links on the left side of the page to the other vaccines.

Dr. Berry reported 166 cases of Monkeypox (MPV) in Washington State. No cases have been diagnosed in Clallam or Jefferson Counties. Monkeypox is a painful rash that usually starts out as red bumps that then scab over. It can happen on any part of the body. It can be spread through any skin-to-skin contact, most commonly though sexual contact. “At this point it is disproportionately affecting men in the gay community,” Dr. Berry explained. “Men who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men. We are not seeing broad transmission in the community as a whole at this point. To protect yourself, she suggests to limit exposure with new sexual partners. If you have a new rash, get checked. Symptoms for Monkeypox include fever and chills, and can present prior to the rash. For those who have been exposed, Public Health has limited access to the Jynneos vaccine which is in short supply and is not readily available in Jefferson County.

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 8/01/22

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.

During today’s Commissions meeting, County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said Jefferson County COVID-19 case rates are down this week compared to last. Jefferson has a case rate of 690/100,000 and a relatively high percent positivity rate of 17%. One person is hospitalized. Dr. Berry again recommended wearing a high-quality mask in indoor settings to reduce transmission and to get fully vaccinated and boosted – that’s three doses for anyone under 65 and four doses for everyone over 65 and those who are immunosuppressed. Covid tests are sold over the counter at major pharmacies; they are free at Public Health. Tests also are available through the libraries, south County fire stations and the Bookmobile. You may also order them: sayyescovidtest.org. Tests are good for 18 months from time of manufacture. Dr. Berry said they probably last longer than that if stored at room temperature. Masks are good as long as they fit your face. If the elastic becomes stretched and the fit is not tight, or if it becomes soiled, then it’s time for a fresh one.

Monkeypox is in Washington State. There have been 118 cases; in Kitsap County, there were two cases diagnosed last week. The virus is spread through contact – close skin contact that is prolonged with another person. Monkeypox presents as a rash that’s atypical for you. It can appear anywhere on your body and it’s generally quite painful with raised red bumps that eventually scab over and look like chickenpox, shingles, and herpes. If you believe you’ve been exposed, contact your healthcare provider. There is limited availability of vaccine. For the general population, the total risk of Monkeypox is low. Safe practices like limiting sexual partners, using protection, and avoiding very crowded, close-in person contact keeps the risk relatively low.

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/25/22

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.

We are adding 143 new cases this week. The two-week case rate is 786 cases per 100,000 people. Our current two-week case rate is within the high transmission risk range. At that level, it’s strongly recommended everyone wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask while in public, indoor places. View even more data on our website’s COVID-19 Case Information page: https://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/1466/Case-Information
#HealthyInJeffCoWA#COVID19ResponseinJeffCoWA

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/18/22

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.

In this weekly COVID-19 case update, as of July 15 there have been 138 new cases reported, with a 712 per 100,000 case rate and a positivity rate of 16.4% over the past two weeks. There are no new hospitalizations and no new deaths.

We are adding 138 new cases this week. The two-week case rate is 712 cases per 100,000 people. Our current two-week case rate is within the high transmission risk range. At that level, it’s strongly recommended everyone wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask while in public, indoor places. Jefferson County Public Health is streamlining its COVID-19 case data reporting as it transitions from an emergency response to a more sustainable and long-term approach to monitoring the virus. The first-ever weekly report published on Monday, June 27 and will appear every subsequent Monday. In addition to shifting to weekly reporting, data will now appear on an interactive dashboard designed with new data presentation software. Explore the dashboard on our website’s COVID-19 Case Information page:
https://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/1466/Case-Information
#HealthyInJeffCoWA#COVID19ResponseinJeffCoWA

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/11/22

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. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

We are adding 128 new cases this week. The two-week case rate is 563 cases per 100,000 people. Our current two-week case rate is within the high transmission risk range. At that level, it’s strongly recommended everyone wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask while in public, indoor places. Explore the data dashboard on our website’s COVID-19 Case Information page: https://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/1466/Case-Information. #HealthyInJeffCoWA#COVID19ResponseinJeffCoWA

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/05/22

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.

In her comments this morning to the County Commissioners, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry reported that the first case of Avian Flu has been found in a flock of domestic fowl in Jefferson. Dr. Berry said that this strain is “unlikely to transmit to humans.” She said this is serious for birds, and poultry farmers in particular. “The best thing to do to protect your birds from contracting avian influenza is to reduce their mixing with other birds, particularly wild birds,” Dr. Berry said. “If you have a pond on your property and your birds are interacting with ducks and other migratory species—that’s where we’re seeing a lot of that infection happen.” The primary sign of avian influenza in your flock is a sudden die off of multiple birds. Dr. Berry said to watch for respiratory illness in your birds– if suddenly your birds are sneezing and coughing, that’s a typical sign that should raise suspicion. She recommends reporting any deaths to WSDA. Jefferson’s flock is 1 of 29 cases positively identified in the state.

We are adding 112 new cases this week. The two-week case rate is 715 cases per 100,000 people. Our current two-week case rate is within the high transmission risk range. At that level, it’s strongly recommended everyone wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask while in public, indoor places.

Jefferson County Public Health is streamlining its COVID-19 case data reporting as it transitions from an emergency response to a more sustainable and long-term approach to monitoring the virus. The first-ever weekly report published on Monday, June 27 and will appear every subsequent Monday. In addition to shifting to weekly reporting, data will now appear on an interactive dashboard designed with new data presentation software. Explore the dashboard on our website’s COVID-19 Case Information page.

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.

County Public Health Report ~ 6/27/22

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.

We are adding 18 new cases this week. The two-week case rate is 979 cases per 100,000 people. This week’s new cases are the total number of cases reported to us as of Friday, June 24, 2022. Future reports will have a full week’s total of new cases. Our current two-week case rate is within the high transmission risk range. At this level, it’s strongly recommended that everyone wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask while in public, indoor places.

Jefferson County Public Health is streamlining its COVID-19 case data reporting as it transitions from an emergency response to a more sustainable and long-term approach to monitoring the virus. The first-ever weekly report published on Monday, June 27 and will appear every subsequent Monday. In addition to shifting to weekly reporting, data will now appear on an interactive dashboard designed with new data presentation software.

Availability of pediatric vaccinations for those 6 months to 5 years has been delayed due to a shipping issue. Dr. Berry said Jefferson Healthcare/ Sheridan Clinic and Public Health will offer the shots the first week in July. Call 360-385-9400 to secure an appointment at Public Health.

The free Covid mask program coordinated though Emergency Management has been discontinued. Director Willie Bence said that demand has slowed “to a trickle.” Some grocery stores still have a supply, as does DEM.

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 BOCC meeting next Tuesday (due to the July 4 holiday).

County Public Health Report ~ 6/21/22

The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this Tuesday’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.

Jefferson County Public Health is streamlining its COVID-19 case data reporting as it transitions from an emergency response to a more sustainable and long-term approach to monitoring the virus. “Our public health nurses continue to spend many hours, including on weekends, compiling data in order to keep up with daily COVID-19 reporting,” said Dr. Allison Berry, Health Officer for Jefferson and Clallam Counties. “Our job is to give people the information they need in order to assess their own risks and make informed choices about how to stay healthier. At this stage of the pandemic, I believe transitioning to once-a-week reporting will provide the public with that information, while allowing our nurses to return more attention to our other public health programs.”

The first-ever weekly report is expected to publish on Monday, June 27 and appear every subsequent Monday. The weekly reported data will include the two-week case rate; the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as well as all-time totals; a percent positivity of tests performed at Jefferson Healthcare; a bar chart showing hospitalizations by age and vaccination status. Jefferson County Public Health’s nurses have issued a COVID-19 report Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, since March 2020. Today, some of that data is no longer helpful when determining risk factors. For example, there is little evidence a person’s sex influences their risk of being infected with COVID-19. So, cases among those identified as female and those identified as male will no longer be included in the report. In addition to shifting to weekly reporting, data will now appear on a dashboard designed with new data presentation software. The public will be able to view and interact with a line graph of case rates over time. Hovering over certain data will reveal more information about how that data was collected. Jefferson County Public Health values input from members of the public. Anyone with questions or comments may send an email to [email protected].

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.

County Public Health Report – 6/13/22

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. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

In her weekly address to Commissioners, County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said there is a “plateauing of our cases overall and there isn’t the rise in hospitalizations that’s been seen in other parts of the country.” This low rate is consistent with all of the top four vaccinated counties in the state—that includes Jefferson and Clallam. Dr. Berry said the primary driver of our low hospitalizations is how vaccinated and boosted we are as a community. “If you are not vaccinated, we are still seeing severe disease and we are seeing death,” she said. Our case rates have risen slowly over the past week (to 873/100,000) but indicators point to a slowing of that rise. “I do think we are moving into a different phase of this response, where we will likely still see transmission in our community but we’re less likely to see severe disease,” Dr. Berry noted. “We have the tools we need to prevent severe disease due to COVID-19.” Dr. Berry said to continue to protect yourselves by wearing a mask in indoor settings and getting vaccinated and boosted.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

County Public Health Report – 6/06/22

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

COVID-19 case rates remain high in Jefferson County, according to County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry, but they seem to be plateauing. She told Commissioners today we have an 18% positivity rate, with a case rate of 823/100,000. There has been no surge in hospitalizations. “It’s interesting that we are seeing very, somewhat different patterns than what we’re seeing in the rest of the country,” she said. “Much of the rest of the country has experienced a surge in hospitalizations. The Northeast, the South and Midwest were really hit hard by a surge in hospitalizations. But in Jefferson and Clallam Counties, we really have not seen that. And that is most likely due to the very high rates of vaccination we have in our communities.” Dr. Berry said she’s hopeful that “we are moving truly into a more endemic phase of this virus. Now variants can always throw a wrench in those plans. But so far, we are moving into a more hopeful direction.” She recommends that everyone continue to wear masks in indoor settings.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

Through Science to Health ~ 5/27/22

In our final regular edition of Through Science to Health, KPTZ host Chris Bricker speaks with Dr. Christine Skorberg, Medical Director of the Women’s Health Clinic at Jefferson Health Care. While in search of a new and all-inclusive name for the Clinic, her colleague, Dr. Asif Luqman, suggested its new appelation, OB/Guyne Clinic. Dr. Skorberg discusses her philosophy of relationship-based medicine, which is centered on listening, honest conversation, and respect for patients including all races, sexual orientation, situations, and lifestyle.  She describes the panorama of care and guidance that ranges from birth to vintage years and covers the services offered at the Clinic. Chris would like to acknowledge his former co-hosts who have provided their expertise, insight, and talent at different times over the course of our program’s run: Kate Keenan and Lynn Sorensen. A big Thank You from the Heart for your earlier contributions to the show!

County Public Health Report – 5/23/22

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 Deputy Dr. Tom Locke . The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Public Health Deputy Dr. Tom Locke told Commissioners this morning that COVID-19 cases are climbing throughout the U.S. by 53% and hospitalizations are going up as well. Washington is 15th on the list of states in terms of COVID-19 activity; cases are up 37% and hospitalizations area up 27%. Deaths are also increasing in the state. Jefferson’s two-week case rate is 848/100,000. Two people currently are hospitalized. The World Health Organization estimates the official global death rate to be 6.2 million. The U.S. has surpassed 1 million deaths, and Dr. Locke reported that three-quarters of these were in people 65+. Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations were disproportionally represented with almost two times the risk of death as their white counterparts. Harvard and the Brown School of Public Health computed that 318,000 people could have been saved if the U.S. had been fully vaccinated. As of today, 29 people in Jefferson County have died from COVID-19.

In Washington State, the BA.2 sub variant is the predominate COVID-19 strain. On the east coast, there is another strain – BA.2.12.1. Both of these are extremely transmissible and three times as contagious as Delta. These two covariants are partially resistant to prior immunity. The immunity derived from a vaccine or a prior infection is still very valuable but is not effective in preventing mild or moderate infection.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

Note: Due to the Memorial Day holiday, there will be no BOCC meetings, nor Public Health Briefings, on Monday, May 30. The next Briefings will take place on Monday, June 6. Please send any questions by Friday, June 3.

County Public Health Report – 5/16/22

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

Click here to read complete notes on the day’s briefings

County Public Health Report – 5/02/22

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.

During County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry’s weekly update, she noted that cases are rising on the west coast and throughout the U.S. Additionally, she feels there is a “dramatic undercount” because the vast majority of the country doesn’t count home antigen tests in their reported totals. Locally, home tests account for 70% of our positive cases. Washington state believes that they’re capturing about 16% of the positive cases in their counts right now. Dr. Berry noted that hospitalizations are beginning to rise which she noted is a “concerning trend.”

Because both Jefferson and Clallam counties are in the high risk transmission zone (above 200 cases per 100,000), Dr. Berry strongly recommends masking in indoor settings. “I think that transition back is going to take a little bit of time, she noted. “Many, many people in our communities got the message that COVID-19 was over when a lot of the restrictions went away so I think it’s going to take a little time to get everybody on board with masking in indoor settings again. I do think it’s a really good idea to do so. We’re seeing quite a bit of COVID-19 transmission. “If you’re in an indoor space with people you don’t know and you don’t know their vaccination status, that’s a space where it’s a really good idea to wear a mask. But, if you are in a private setting, I think a small dinner party is reasonable. If you are going to have a party with 10 or more people regardless of their vaccination status, I would recommend wear a mask in a setting like that. ”Dr. Berry suggested that location is important, too. For example, when visiting a care facility or a high-risk family member, wear a high-quality mask. Consider testing before you go and, if you are symptomatic, postpone your visit.

Dr. Berry noted that COVID-19 at-home testing is an important measure to determine if you are infected. Here’s the protocol from Dr. Berry: If you just have a mild symptom and it goes away and you test and it’s negative, that’s good enough. If you’re testing just because you’ve traveled and you don’t have any symptoms, a single test should be enough for you. But if you are sick, especially if you’re vaccinated, we know that your symptoms tend to start very early and sometimes even before your viral load has caught up enough to get to turn positive on a test. So, especially for our fully-vaccinated folks – but really for anyone – if you get sick and you take a test on that first day that you have symptoms and it’s negative, but those symptoms persist, take another test the next day. We’ve seen people turn positive 24 to 48 hours later, especially if you’re vaccinated, because your viral loads are low. That’s good. Your low viral load makes you less likely to transmit to other people and less likely to get severe symptoms, but you could still turn positive later. If you’re sick, take more than one test. There are an ample supply of antigen tests right now. If you’re still sick a couple days later, definitely still stay home whenever you’re symptomatic. And take a test again the next day. Test kits are available at Jefferson County Public Health, the libraries, and the fire departments in South County. They are also available free of charge from the State: https://sayyescovidtest.org. Order now to have a supply when needed.

As for Booster shots, Dr. Berry noted that the first booster is the most important one. “It would be reasonable if you are 75 and up and you have underlying conditions, consider getting that fourth booster just as a safety precaution,” she said.

If you are 65 and older, test positive for COVID-19, and are at a high risk for severe disease, there is an 5-day course of oral medication available. In Jefferson County, contact the Jefferson Healthcare COVID Nurse Consult Hotline for information on how to access the prescription: 360-344-3094.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.

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.