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.
County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry today said case rates in Jefferson have reached the low risk threshold. Jefferson’s case rate is 71/100,000 with a 2.9% positivity rate. This information now will be updated Tuesdays and Fridays. She said most people can safely unmask in indoor spaces if they are at low risk for severe disease. For those who are at a higher risk for severe disease – which Dr.Berry points out is a “decent proportion” of our community – she suggests continued masking until we get below 50 cases per 100,000 threshold. She believes that will occur by next Friday.
Dr. Berry addressed the BA 2 sub-variant of COVID-19 – a more contagious version of the Omicron variant – that now is prevalent in the UK. Cases there are up 79% and hospitalizations are up 40%. She believes the relaxed mitigation measures combined with waning immunity have caused BA2’s transmission to spike. The UK is considering a fourth vaccination. The FDA Advisory Committee is reviewing data and on March 30 will make a recommendation about another dose in the U.S. Jefferson does not have any of the BA 2 sub-variant, however, Clallam has had its first case. In Washington, about 9% of the specimens are BA 2.
Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence didn’t address COVID-19 during his weekly address to Commissioners. He spoke of the high temperatures expected this summer due to climate change. He discussed the possibility of cooling centers being opened in Brinnon, Quilcene, Chimacum and Port Townsend. In order to stay informed, the NIXEL alert system texts important local information during an emergency. Bence said everyone should be getting the alerts. Cooling centers will be one bit of info pushed out on the system if the situation warrants. To sign up: www.jeffcoeoc.org. The link is on the right side of the page at the top.
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.