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 of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.
Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said that COVID-19 cases continue to fall in Jefferson County. Total case numbers are 3,130, putting the case rate at 189/100,000, dipping below her desired threshold of 200/100,000, Our percent positivity is 7.4 which is also downtrending. Jefferson is no longer in the high risk category, moving to medium risk for COVID-19 transmission rates. Dr. Berry is recommending mask wearing in indoor settings until the case rate is below 100/100,000. This is especially important in crowded indoor spaces where vaccination status is unknown. Masking is also recommended for those who are in a high risk group or who are immunocompromised, on cancer treatments, or taking immunosuppressive medications. She anticipates a small surge in cases in a couple weeks because the mask mandate has been lifted. She does not anticipate a super-spreader event like the previous ones. For the long term, Dr. Berry believes COVID-19 will become a more severe version of the flu that moves in a seasonal pattern. She said that summer will be a time to enjoy the outdoors, but anticipates next fall/winter there could be a spike in case numbers as the population retreats back indoors.
Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence today said the EOC emergency response to COVID-19 has turned the corner and is now in an ongoing maintenance mode. Meetings with Public Health and informational briefings with leadership and partners will remain in place on a weekly basis until the end of this month. The large mass vaccination clinics have been scaled back. Stores are being supplied with masks for the public. He had high praise for the many volunteers who turned out to help with the response. “We had hundreds of people come forward over the past few years and come out with a response for my department, whether it be doctors or nurses who are actually administering shots,” Bence recalled. “We have logistics volunteers who help with putting up parking cones and helping with traffic control. They’re helping set up and clean up after clinic, things like that. So we are absolutely going to maintain those those volunteer resources.” Bence said he has plans to establish the “Medical Reserve Corps,” a volunteer program composed of doctors and nurses who can be called upon during a future pandemic or emergency event. The next few months will be a time for the EOC to conduct focus groups and hold conversations about what worked and didn’t during the response to the pandemic. A report to the Commissioners will be provided when the information becomes available.
Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to 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.