Virus Watch Reports

County Public Health Report ~ 1/18

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.

County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry this morning said the number of coronavirus cases is expected to peak toward the end of January which means the news reported over the next couple weeks will most certainly indicate a dramatic rise in cases. In Jefferson County, our current case count is 2,123 with a case rate of 1,460 per 100,000. That is the highest we have ever seen in our region with a 22% positivity. Only three people currently are hospitalized with COVID-19, and 22 deaths have been reported over the period of the pandemic. Clallam’s count is 7,890 with a case rate of 2,034 per 100,000.

She said although Jefferson is faring better than other areas on the peninsula, “the problem is the sheer number of people with COVID-19 who are needing to be seen in the ER or in the hospital. It is beyond straining the healthcare system, it’s nearly buckling under the pressure of all those patients who need medical care, particularly for emergency department medical care,” Dr. Berry said. “Jefferson isn’t experiencing that degree of emergency thanks to the the sheer number of folks in our community who are vaccinated, However, the challenge is when all of our neighboring health care systems are buckling under the pressure of COVID-19 it has a ripple effect on us because we can’t get our very sick out for care.”

Dr. Berry reports that nationwide, there are “incredibly high rates of transmission,” with approximately 800,000 cases diagnosed every day in the United States. Hospitalizations are still rising and, unfortunately, deaths are as well. Currently, there about 150,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States.

Dr. Berry offers the following advice on what to do if you test positive using a home test: Stay Home.
(1) Isolate for 10 days – from when symptoms begin or 10 days from testing positive.
(2) Call Jefferson County Public Health for guidance: 360-385-9400.
(3) Tell the people that you’ve been around since you were infectious that they have been exposed (from two days before your symptoms begin through 10 days after).
(4) Check the Jefferson County Public Health Facebook page or website for more information.
(5) If you do not have a home test available, there is still drive-through testing at Jefferson Healthcare, and tests are available at the County Health Department while supplies last.

Here are Dr. Berry’s comments about young and healthy people, COVID-19, and risks: “I do hear from some folks who are young and healthy, who are even vaccinated. who say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m not going to die of COVID-19 so I’m just gonna live my life.’ And that’s true. You’re not Your probability of getting hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 if you’ve been vaccinated is low. But the big thing that we worry about is the risk that you could bring COVID-19 to someone else. And the biggest reason why people who are young and healthy should be thoughtful about transmitting COVID-19 is because we don’t want you to give it to someone else who could then get sick and die. So not enough to just measure your own personal risk. You want to measure the risk of everyone around you, in your family in your community who could get sick because of you.”

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 ~ 1/10

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.

In today’s address, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said the healthcare system is experiencing shortages of beds, shortages of staff and shortages of tests and medications. She urged individuals to get vaccinated, wear a mask and limit social contacts for the next few weeks – especially limiting the amount of time spent indoors with others. She said traveling by air is not a good idea at the moment and that supporting restaurants by ordering take-out or eating outside is preferable to indoor dining. “If you are fully vaccinated, you are well protected against the worst of COVID-19,” she said. “We’re seeing good protection against hospitalization for the folks who are fully vaccinated and even better protection for those who are boosted. So it really does still make a huge difference.” She suggested upgrading your mask, using well-fitted KN95 or N-95 masks. The county has a supply of these models and they be distributing them through local businesses, grocery stores and schools. “The very best mask you can wear is the on that you will wear continuously, “ Dr. Berry said.

In her weekly Commissioners address, Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry predicted that Jefferson will reach peak COVID-19 transmission at the end of January, with peak hospitalizations through mid-February. Dr. Berry said the COVID-19 news for this week is “not good,” with incredibly rapid rises in cases throughout the country. The Omicron variant is “incredibly contagious and a lot of us will contract it in the next couple weeks.” In Jefferson, cases are rising rapidly. She said our case rate is 795 per 100,000, which is the highest it has been. As of today, there 125 new cases for a total of 1,825 cases, with five people hospitalized. Forty of those new cases are in the Olympic Corrections Center in West Jefferson County. Nationally, cases are up 215%, with 650,000 cases reported each day and hospitalizations up 80%. “As crazy as these numbers sound right now, we anticipate that they will be worse for the next couple of weeks and the strain on our healthcare system will be worse for actually even longer,” 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 meeting (Tuesday, January 18, due to the MLK holiday).

Jefferson County December 2021 Case Numbers

Jefferson County had 205 new cases in December 2021 (through Dec. 30) for a total of 1,508. That’s an uptick from 164 in October and 139 in November, but lower than our highest month, September 2021 with 305. But as of Jan. 5, we had 1,636 cases, an increase of 128 over six days. It’s believed the sharp increase reflects both holiday gatherings and travel as well as the extremely contagious Omicron variant, which is prevalent in Washington and the US.

The one encouraging metric is Jefferson County’s COVID-19 death rate, which is one of the lowest in the country, according to Dr. Allison Berry, our public health officer. We had 20 COVID-19 deaths through December of 2021, but our rate is about half the state rate and a quarter of the national rate, she said. Twenty is too many, but it would have been 40 or 80 if our rate was comparable to state and national rates. Dr. Berry attributes our lower death toll – in spite of our significantly older demographic – to a high vaccination rate, masks and social distancing, and the vaccination requirement for bar and restaurant patrons.

Like many other hospitals, Jefferson Healthcare Hospital is very short of staff and unable to operate at full capacity. This makes it more difficult to treat critical patients with heart attacks, strokes, car wreck trauma, etc., let alone new COVID-19 patients, about two-thirds of whom are unvaccinated.

County Public Health Report ~ 1/03

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.

During the public health update this morning at the BOCC meeting, County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said COVID-19 has been rising dramatically though the nation and in the region. In Jefferson County, there is a significant rise in cases. Our current case rate is 416 per 100,000. As of today, we have 1,589 diagnosed cases. Dr Berry said it is reasonable to assume that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 in Jefferson, it is most likely Omicron. That is the majority variant in our region now. “What we know about the Omicron variant is that it is incredibly infectious,” Dr. Berry said. “It’s very, very transmissible and is a little bit less severe than the Delta variant but not as mild as many people are making it out to be.” She explained that Omicron is 20% less severe than the Delta variant, and the Delta variant was 50% more severe than the original COVID-19 virus. If you are unvaccinated, the Omicron variant is actually more severe than the original COVID-19 virus. “It is not the cold, it is not the flu,” she said. Dr. Berry said for those who are vaccinated, Omicron has a low rate of severe disease. But if you are unvaccinated, it can still be incredibly severe and can lead to hospitalization and death given how how transmissible it is. She said we are very likely to see our hospital system being overwhelmed again. Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glen, along with Tracie Harris, MD and Tina Toner MD, told Commissioners that the hospital is experiencing staff vulnerabilities. And moving patients from one hospital to the other has been critically impaired. The emergency department has increased patient load from 200 to 250 last month. And the Express Clinic normally sees 150 patients; currently it’s 225.

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.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 12/24

In this year-end edition of Through Science to Health, Dr. Joseph Mattern, Chief Medical Officer for Jefferson Health Care, joins KPTZ Host Chris Bricker for an informed discussion that helps us navigate the information overload surrounding COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. He emphasizes the Common Good when it comes to being mindful over the holidays, and gives us some optimistic encouragement as we roll responsibly through the next few months.

County Public Health Report ~ 12/20

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.

As the rest of the county experiences surges in COVID-19 cases primarily due to the Delta and Omicron variants, Jefferson County remains steady with a case rate of 180/100. Three people are hospitalized and no new deaths have been reported. County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry told the Commissioners this morning that the Omicron variant is “incredibly transmissible and that it is starting to overtake Delta in some parts of the country.” Dr. Berry said that she anticipates seeing this happen in January in Washington. There are cases reported in King and Clallam Counties, and she believes that it may be circulating in Jefferson, but the genetic sequencing that will tell her that has not been completed to confirm her suspicions. She also noted that prior COVID-19 infection alone is not enough to protect from Omicron. “We are definitely seeing increased reinfection and, unfortunately, increased breakthrough infection as well,” Dr. Berry said. “The good news is that even if you don’t get a booster, the vaccines are showing very strong protection against hospitalization and deaths from Omicron. And the boosters are showing very strong protection against symptomatic disease. So if you get a booster for for COVID-19, it really should protect you quite well against Omicron. We’re seeing about 70-80% protection against any disease at all if you get your booster. “We’re seeing that the majority of infections right now are among the unvaccinated. And that’s concerning because there was some initial thought that the Omicron variant would be less severe based on some early data coming out of South Africa. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, Omicron is showing the ability to be just as severe as prior variants,” she reported. “But if you are vaccinated, you are much, much less likely to get severe disease, much less likely to get hospitalized.” Dr. Berry strongly recommends being vaccinated and boosted for the best protection during the holidays. Her next report to the Commissioners will be on Monday, January 3. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and Willie Bence by emailing [email protected].

County Public Health Report ~ 12/06

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.

Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Monday updated the Commissioners on COVID-19 saying that there is a winter surge occurring, with cases up 50% over one month ago. Nationally, 100,000 people are diagnosed each day and 1,200 people die every day. Washington is bucking that trend. Dr. Berry said the number of cases is not rising due to the sheer number of people who are vaccinated. In Jefferson, we have had a total of 1,324 cases reported, with 214 per 100,000 – a 5% positivity rate. There has not been a large outbreak from Thanksgiving gatherings. However, there are clusters of small children who have been infected. Contact tracing is underway in the schools.

Dr. Berry said the biggest health news of the week is the rise of the Omicron variant. It has been detected in Washington state, not yet in Jefferson, but it is in King County. She said we are following King County by two weeks so she feels it is likely to be here soon. “We don’t know about the severity of this variant,” Dr. Berry said. She said public health officials are seeing early indications of reinfections, especially if your only immunity comes from prior infections. Omicron seems to be taking hold in under-vaccinated communities and is more transmissible than the Delta variant. She encouraged all to get their booster now before the holiday surge and winter season.

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.

Jefferson County November 2021 Case Numbers

After our peak of 305 cases in September, Jefferson County recorded 164 cases in October and 139 in November. The other good news is vaccines are now available locally for everyone 5 years old and older.

Unfortunately, we still have a high case rate. The very contagious and potentially more serious strain, Delta, is the dominate form of Covid-19 in Washington and the U.S. Scientists are currently assessing Omicron, the new strain discovered in South Africa with many mutations which may prove to be significant.

Currently, about three out of four new cases in our county are in unvaccinated people. Getting vaccinated makes it much less likely that you’ll be infected or get a serious case if you do get infected. Plus, vaccines and masks help all of us stay healthier during the holiday season.

Please note that Jefferson Healthcare Hospital’s workforce is down about 25%, which isn’t enough to operate its 25 regular beds and six ICU beds. On multiple occasions, it has been operating about 15 regular beds and four ICU beds, and they’ve been 100% full. By taking common sense actions to reduce your chances of getting Covid-19, you also make it more likely that people with heart attacks, car wreck injuries, or other emergencies can get the care they need with the limited resources we have for the foreseeable future.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 11/26

This month on Through Science to Health, KPTZ host Chris Bricker speaks with Dr. Joseph Mattern, Chief Medical Officer for Jefferson Health Care. Dr. Mattern is also charged with overseeing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for JHC. Today, Dr. Mattern joins us to recap Jefferson Health Care’s journey over the past twenty months.  He talks about current challenges and issues, vaccines and immunity, and the importance of our children in the big picture. He also gives us his thoughts about the status of health care providers at hospitals and clinics, along with his predictions for the future of health care in our community.

Jefferson County October 2021 Case Numbers

After seeing a record 305 new cases in September, Jefferson County recorded only 164 new cases in October. However, our case rate is still very high, in part because the Delta variant can quickly spread in households, places of work, etc. Health officials continue to urge that everyone wear masks in indoor public places and maintain social distance. About 74% of new COVID-19 infections locally are in people who are not fully vaccinated. Many of these cases involve household transmission or contact with someone who has traveled out of state. While people 0 to 19 years old account for just 14% of our population, they represent 25% of our total COVID-19 infections. Fortunately, vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old will be available shortly in Jefferson County. Meanwhile, people 60 and over account for 46% of our population but just 25% of our total COVID-19 infections. Of those 65 and over in our county, about 91% were fully vaccinated as of November 1.

County Public Health Report ~ 11/01

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

Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry this morning said Jefferson County is “plateauing” with a COVID-19 case rate of 251 per 100,000, and a positivity rate of 4.6. Three hospitalized COVID patients were discharged over the weekend and only one person is currently hospitalized. No deaths were added; the count remains at 17. Dr. Berry said that 74% of COVID cases are among the unvaccinated. “I think the biggest news of late is that we have seen the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations approved by the FDA for kids 5 to 11,” she reported “We’re very excited about that. We’re very hopeful about seeing this age group vaccinated soon.” She said the vaccine will be reviewed by the CDC and others before distribution can be scheduled. “This is the first time in a while that we actually have a new formulation of a vaccine to be shipped throughout the country,” Dr. Berry said. “If this gets CDC approval, most likely we will see vaccinations in this age range next week.” Pfizer’s pediatric formulation of the COVID-19 vaccine is a third of the dose given to adults or older children. She also addressed misinformation surrounding the vaccine for children. “What we do see is COVID-19 blessedly is less severe in children than it is in adults, but it still can be incredibly severe,” she said. Dr. Berry cited some statistics, reporting that nationwide, approximately 67,000 children have been hospitalized and over 650 have died due to the COVID virus. Among those who are hospitalized, 30% had no underlying conditions at all. And, for the other 70%, the vast majority of them actually had relatively mild underlying conditions, things like asthma. “I really would encourage parents to use this incredible resource to protect their children, especially as we move into the holiday season,” Dr. Berry urged.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 10/22

KPTZ’S Chris Bricker speaks with Dr. Allison Berry, Health Officer for Jefferson and Clallam Counties, and also with Bonnie Obremski, who fills the newly created role of COVID-19 Communications Specialist. We live in a world where there is also a pandemic of misinformation, and Bonnie explains the importance of communicating accurate and vetted information through the many communication platforms that exist today. Doctor Berry shares and clarifies the good news about vaccine boosters, and we talk about our children and what’s on the horizon for them as we balance their need to be in school, supported by the hard work of our education administrators and professionals. Dr. Berry also gives us advice for our fall and winter concerns, travel, and holiday gatherings.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/18

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 Deputy Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 10/11

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined to address the meeting. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 10/04

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined to address the meeting. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

Jefferson County September 2021 Case Numbers

Jefferson County recorded 305 COVID-19 infections in September, nearly one-third of the 1,000 local cases during the 19 months that we’ve been in the pandemic. We had 175 cases in August, our previous peak. Together, August and September of 2021 account for 48% of all the COVID-19 infections recorded in Jefferson County. The steep rise these last two months coincided with the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions and the rapid spread of the Delta variant, which now accounts for virtually all new infections in the U.S. As is true in most places with increasing infection rates, hospitals in Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap counties have sometimes filled to capacity. The vast majority of recently hospitalized COVID-19 patients were not vaccinated.

County Public Health Report ~ 9/13

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined tto address the meeting. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 9/07

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined to address the meeting. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

Jefferson County August 2021 Case Numbers

The 175 additional cases in August are more than twice the number in any previous month (there were 82 in January 2021 and 79 in November 2020). In just one month, these 175 new cases account for 25 percent of all 695 cases recorded in Jefferson County. It is believed that the actual number is higher, but many people who use home testing kits do not report the results to the local health department.

Also note that nearly 100% of new cases in Washington and the U.S. are the Delta variant. Delta results in a higher number of cases requiring hospitalization and is significantly more contagious than all other variants to date.