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, along with Dr. Tom Locke, who has stepped back to serve as Deputy Public Health Office. 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.
Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry told Commissioners Monday that the first case of the COVID-19 Delta Variant has reached Jefferson. She described it as “profoundly contagious” with “high viral loads.” Jefferson County continues to see high numbers, with a case rate of 138 per 100,000, the second highest recorded rate since the pandemic began. The last time it was this high was during the holiday season. Case rates in the U.S. have risen 149% in the last week with the worst outbreaks in Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and Florida. In Washington, there has been a 63% increase in cases, with a 33% increase in hospitalizations.
Berry said cases are “being driven almost exclusively by unvaccinated folks who travel and bring the infection home, to work, and to their friends.” There are no large-scale outbreaks in the county. She cautioned that current vaccines are 97% effective but are not bulletproof. “That’s why we recommend adding a mask for indoor environments,” Berry said. “If you’re in an indoor space where you don’t know the vaccine status of the people around you, or you know some of them are unvaccinated, we recommend putting on a mask so you can be protected…so you can avoid bringing that infection home potentially to anyone else.”
Emergency Management Director Willie Bence reported that Jefferson Healthcare is ramping up its drive-through testing program again and the Nurse Consult Line is has been reactivated: 360-344-3094. DEM will be offering a Back to School pop-up Pfizer clinic at the Quilcene School District August 23. This is for both Quilcene and Brinnon students. More information will be forthcoming for this clinic, as well as others being scheduled for late August and September. Bench said DEM has a supply of masks for businesses wanting them, along with hand sanitizers. They are working on new signage, too.
Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry 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.