Today, Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke shared about the recent Jefferson County increase in COVID-19 cases. He answered questions from KPTZ listeners about:
• Numbers are worse: nationally, overall cases increased 54% in 2 weeks, and deaths are also up, with lagging count behind the increase in case count.
• Jefferson County increased by 53 cases in the last 2 weeks. Testing turnaround is slower. Clallam having a similar surge. Other areas of the state are even worse.
• The ability to do high-quality contact tracing is limited when the case levels are higher. Jefferson County has 11 trained contact tracers, and so far they have been able to keep up with the pace.
• The holidays are a big concern, and it’s highly everyone recommended stay home with one’s own household.
• He recommends that healthy people schedule needed health care appointments, rather than postponing.
• COVID-19 has a residual effect on people’s health afterwards, with lingering effects for 10% of confirmed cases.
• Mask type studies on cloth masks vs. disposable masks are not conclusive.
• There are delays in testing due to higher case loads, based on staffing issues.
• Vaccines will go to first-tier responders who have first-line contact with people who may be Covid-infected. By April, the hope is that everyone can be vaccinated. So far, side effects have been mild.
• Because of higher infection rates, to be at lower risk, you should shop at less busy store times.
• Increase air exchange with ventilation system and open windows.
• Schools have reduced classroom teaching, pending reduction of transmission rate.
And, from Department of Emergency Management Director Willie Bence:
• A field hospital is a temporary popup hospital and if it becomes needed there is potential for opening a regional field hospital. At this point, models are not showing this to be needed. Maintaining staffing is the current concern.
• An outreach campaign “COVID SMART” is embarking, featuring Sanitation, Masks, Airflow, Room Between People, Technology for Gatherings.
Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing email@example.com.