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 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.