The following is a summary of the presentation made by Dr. Tom Locke, our local Public Health Officer and Willie Bence, Director, DEM, Jefferson County, during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.
County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke reported that Jefferson County has a 72.4% vaccination rate for those 16 and older. And Jefferson’s infection rate went up a small amount, 12.5 to 15.7 cases per 100,000 or five cases in the last two weeks. And that’s that’s among the lowest in the state.
Monetary incentives are being used to increase vaccination participation, and Washington State has instituted a campaign,“ Shot of a Lifetime.” Everyone who’s in the State Department of Health COVID vaccination registry has been entered into this lottery. The first drawing will be on Tuesday 6/8 for a $250,000 prize, and then there’ll be weekly drawings on June 15, 22, 29, and July 6. The $1 million drawing will be held on July, 13.
COVID variants are all getting new names. To help keep track: the UK variant is now considered the Alpha variant; the South African variant is now being called the Beta; the Brazilian variant is Gamma; the variant that arose in India is Delta, and the California variants are known as Epsilon. Dr. Locke said it’s mostly the Alpha variant that was first from the United Kingdom, and the Epsilon variants from California that are circulating in Washington.
Jefferson County QFC, Safeway and Tri-Area pharmacies are still offering the vaccine, as is Jefferson Healthcare Express Clinic located at the hospital. You don’t have to be a patient at the hospital to be vaccinated. You may also ask for immunization from your local healthcare provider.
Everyone still has to wear a mask indoors – regardless of vaccination status. The Jefferson County business community is experiencing an influx of visitors from out of the area who seem to be unaware of our local masking mandate. Some locals may be unaware or a bit resistant to continuing to mask locally. Jefferson County Public Health has developed signage and posters that reminds all of Dr. Locke’s masking directive. Look for them posted around the area.
Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence told the Commissioners that this week the Department of Emergency Management will partner with the state health department to provide vaccinations to homebound individuals. The Department has also partnered with organizations that will provide a free ride to a clinic as well. If you or someone you know needs these types of assistance, call 360-344-9791.
Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.