Virus Watch Reports

Jefferson County November 2021 Case Numbers

After our peak of 305 cases in September, Jefferson County recorded 164 cases in October and 139 in November. The other good news is vaccines are now available locally for everyone 5 years old and older.

Unfortunately, we still have a high case rate. The very contagious and potentially more serious strain, Delta, is the dominate form of Covid-19 in Washington and the U.S. Scientists are currently assessing Omicron, the new strain discovered in South Africa with many mutations which may prove to be significant.

Currently, about three out of four new cases in our county are in unvaccinated people. Getting vaccinated makes it much less likely that you’ll be infected or get a serious case if you do get infected. Plus, vaccines and masks help all of us stay healthier during the holiday season.

Please note that Jefferson Healthcare Hospital’s workforce is down about 25%, which isn’t enough to operate its 25 regular beds and six ICU beds. On multiple occasions, it has been operating about 15 regular beds and four ICU beds, and they’ve been 100% full. By taking common sense actions to reduce your chances of getting Covid-19, you also make it more likely that people with heart attacks, car wreck injuries, or other emergencies can get the care they need with the limited resources we have for the foreseeable future.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 11/26

This month on Through Science to Health, KPTZ host Chris Bricker speaks with Dr. Joseph Mattern, Chief Medical Officer for Jefferson Health Care. Dr. Mattern is also charged with overseeing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for JHC. Today, Dr. Mattern joins us to recap Jefferson Health Care’s journey over the past twenty months.  He talks about current challenges and issues, vaccines and immunity, and the importance of our children in the big picture. He also gives us his thoughts about the status of health care providers at hospitals and clinics, along with his predictions for the future of health care in our community.

Jefferson County October 2021 Case Numbers

After seeing a record 305 new cases in September, Jefferson County recorded only 164 new cases in October. However, our case rate is still very high, in part because the Delta variant can quickly spread in households, places of work, etc. Health officials continue to urge that everyone wear masks in indoor public places and maintain social distance. About 74% of new COVID-19 infections locally are in people who are not fully vaccinated. Many of these cases involve household transmission or contact with someone who has traveled out of state. While people 0 to 19 years old account for just 14% of our population, they represent 25% of our total COVID-19 infections. Fortunately, vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old will be available shortly in Jefferson County. Meanwhile, people 60 and over account for 46% of our population but just 25% of our total COVID-19 infections. Of those 65 and over in our county, about 91% were fully vaccinated as of November 1.

County Public Health Report ~ 11/01

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, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry this morning said Jefferson County is “plateauing” with a COVID-19 case rate of 251 per 100,000, and a positivity rate of 4.6. Three hospitalized COVID patients were discharged over the weekend and only one person is currently hospitalized. No deaths were added; the count remains at 17. Dr. Berry said that 74% of COVID cases are among the unvaccinated. “I think the biggest news of late is that we have seen the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations approved by the FDA for kids 5 to 11,” she reported “We’re very excited about that. We’re very hopeful about seeing this age group vaccinated soon.” She said the vaccine will be reviewed by the CDC and others before distribution can be scheduled. “This is the first time in a while that we actually have a new formulation of a vaccine to be shipped throughout the country,” Dr. Berry said. “If this gets CDC approval, most likely we will see vaccinations in this age range next week.” Pfizer’s pediatric formulation of the COVID-19 vaccine is a third of the dose given to adults or older children. She also addressed misinformation surrounding the vaccine for children. “What we do see is COVID-19 blessedly is less severe in children than it is in adults, but it still can be incredibly severe,” she said. Dr. Berry cited some statistics, reporting that nationwide, approximately 67,000 children have been hospitalized and over 650 have died due to the COVID virus. Among those who are hospitalized, 30% had no underlying conditions at all. And, for the other 70%, the vast majority of them actually had relatively mild underlying conditions, things like asthma. “I really would encourage parents to use this incredible resource to protect their children, especially as we move into the holiday season,” Dr. Berry urged.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 10/22

KPTZ’S Chris Bricker speaks with Dr. Allison Berry, Health Officer for Jefferson and Clallam Counties, and also with Bonnie Obremski, who fills the newly created role of COVID-19 Communications Specialist. We live in a world where there is also a pandemic of misinformation, and Bonnie explains the importance of communicating accurate and vetted information through the many communication platforms that exist today. Doctor Berry shares and clarifies the good news about vaccine boosters, and we talk about our children and what’s on the horizon for them as we balance their need to be in school, supported by the hard work of our education administrators and professionals. Dr. Berry also gives us advice for our fall and winter concerns, travel, and holiday gatherings.

County Public Health Report ~ 10/18

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 Deputy Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke. 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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 10/11

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined to address the meeting. 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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 10/04

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined to address the meeting. 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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

Jefferson County September 2021 Case Numbers

Jefferson County recorded 305 COVID-19 infections in September, nearly one-third of the 1,000 local cases during the 19 months that we’ve been in the pandemic. We had 175 cases in August, our previous peak. Together, August and September of 2021 account for 48% of all the COVID-19 infections recorded in Jefferson County. The steep rise these last two months coincided with the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions and the rapid spread of the Delta variant, which now accounts for virtually all new infections in the U.S. As is true in most places with increasing infection rates, hospitals in Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap counties have sometimes filled to capacity. The vast majority of recently hospitalized COVID-19 patients were not vaccinated.

County Public Health Report ~ 9/13

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined tto address the meeting. 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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 9/07

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. Spokespeople from Jefferson Healthcare joined to address the meeting. 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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

Jefferson County August 2021 Case Numbers

The 175 additional cases in August are more than twice the number in any previous month (there were 82 in January 2021 and 79 in November 2020). In just one month, these 175 new cases account for 25 percent of all 695 cases recorded in Jefferson County. It is believed that the actual number is higher, but many people who use home testing kits do not report the results to the local health department.

Also note that nearly 100% of new cases in Washington and the U.S. are the Delta variant. Delta results in a higher number of cases requiring hospitalization and is significantly more contagious than all other variants to date.

KPTZ’s Through Science to Health ~ 8/27

On today’s Through Science to Health, KPTZ’s Dick Keenan interviewed Kate Keenan, Retired Communicable Disease Investigator from San Diego County. They discussed the big picture, that the virus continues to pose a threat to our collective health 18 months after the first reported cases in our state.

The Delta variant is dramatically changing the face of the pandemic.  It is more transmissible and infectious, affecting even those who have been fully vaccinated. Returning to masking when indoors, despite vaccination, is the best chance of reducing community spread. Our current case rate is the highest it’s ever been: 263 per 100,000 population.

Vaccination remains effective at preventing hospitalization and death, but slightly less effective at reducing infection, once exposed. Thus the new recommendation to provide an additional dose for those immunocompromised persons. This data comes from a country with high immunization rates – Israel – who decided that an additional dose would blunt fresh waves of hospitalizations in the face of the delta variant. The additional doses are not a new formula, but a repeat of the shots you originally received. Future vaccines may be reformulated according to the variants circulating. 

Human behavior is the most complicated factor in maneuvering this pandemic. Although we have made remarkable progress with a safe and effective vaccine, medical treatments and sufficient masking supplies, there is also progress in a population response to the current threat of the Delta variant. As much as we want our old world back, many individuals, organizations and businesses are adopting the interventions we know stems the tide of more community spread such as masking, reducing traveling and monitoring ourselves for any sign of infection.

County Public Health Report ~ 8/23

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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

Note: The next scheduled BOCC meeting will be held Tuesday, September 7 beginning at 9am. The COVID-19 briefing by County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry and Department of Emergency Management Willlie Bence will begin at 9:45am.

County Public Health Report ~ 8/16

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.

Click here to read complete notes on today’s briefings

County Public Health Report ~ 8/09

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.

County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said the Jefferson County’s COVID-19 numbers are not looking good; now there’s a case rate of 197/100,000 – the highest numbers reported during the pandemic. She said “Hospital Strain” is real, emphasizing that all healthcare workers should be vaccinated. Berry said this is a critical phase of the pandemic and there is a high risk of overwhelming our healthcare system.

Breakthrough infections represent 10% of the positive cases reported in Jefferson. The cases are mild, and none have transferred to others. Berry said that there is recurring misinformation spread about the vaccine. It does not affect pregnant women or their fetus. “COVID-19 is dangerous on mom and on pregnancy itself,” she said. “If you are thinking of getting pregnant, get vaccinated.” 

Dr. Berry said that a masking requirement is likely in our future given our capacity limitations in indoor spaces. COVID-19 tests are available at Jefferson Healthcare’s drive-through testing station and at Jefferson County Public Health. Test kits are available at local pharmacies and online.  If you feel ill, please get tested.

Given the expected hot weather later this week, Emergency Management Director Willie Bence said that cooling shelters will be open in south county. Information will be available via NIXLE, this county Facebook page, reader boards, and newspapers.  To receive notifications from NIXLE: text jeffcodem to 888777.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry by emailing contactus@kptz.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.

Jefferson County July 2021 Case Numbers

This graph shows the monthly and cumulative number of COVID-19 infections reported in Jefferson County, from March 2020 through July 2021. Data source: Jefferson County Public Health Department website, graph created by KPTZ.

As of July 31, 2021 the total number of COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County was 520. This due to an increase of 70 cases in the past month, a significant increase from 34 new cases last month, due to the Delta Variant. 

County Public Health Report ~ 8/02

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 contactus@kptz.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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/26

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.

On Monday, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry told the Commissioners and KPTZ listeners there is a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in Washington State. Cases are up 133% and hospitalizations are up by 10%. 
Because of this uptick in cases, Berry recommended a return to masking, regardless of vaccination status. “Any place where you are going to be spending time around people and you don’t know their vaccine status, we recommend masking up.” She mentioned the office, grocery stores, movie theaters, and churches as examples. “This (uptick) is really driven by the Delta variant,” Berry said. “We have not seen Delta variants or at least not diagnosed yet locally, but we certainly anticipate that it’s likely here and just hasn’t been caught yet.”

Jefferson County is up to 493 cases, or 72 per 100,000. Berry reported the newest cases are being driven by unvaccinated people in Jefferson County, mostly gathering indoors, at social gatherings, and traveling. Jefferson has a 66% fully-vaccinated rate; with those who are 12 and older, the rate climbs to 71%. Vaccinations are available at Jefferson Health Care and the Safeway, QFC, and Tri-Area Pharmacies. “The key message I want folks to know is that we’re seeing a dramatic rise in cases. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, now is really the time to do it,” Berry said.

Emergency Management Director Willie Bence addressed the possibility of wildfire smoke coming to Jefferson County. Bence said while we haven’t had any smoke yet this year, fires are growing across the Pacific Northwest. “People should consider how to protect themselves from smoke if it does come here,” he said. You can check on the air quality by going to https://wasmoke.blogspot.com/. Another good website to get wildfire information is https://www.dnr.wa.gov/Wildfires.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry by emailing contactus@kptz.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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/19

The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Dr. Tom Locke, our local Public Health Officer who has stepped back to serve as Deputy Public Health Officer, and Dr. Allison Berry, who now takes on the mantle of Jefferson County Public Health Officer. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

During the County Commissioners’ meeting, Dr. Allison Berry was introduced as Jefferson’s new County Health Officer. Dr. Tom Locke, who has been in this role for over 25 years, is stepping back to spend more time with his family.
“I’ve got to be honest that the COVID-19 response is exhausting as well as gratifying, and it’s not over,” Locke admitted. “We all have a lot more to do, both in our official capacities and as volunteers. This has been, and continues to be, a community-wide response.”

Locke cautioned that COVID-19 is not the only public health crisis we face. He said the opiate epidemic is still raging and has become worse during the pandemic. Locke gave Dr. Berry high praise as the health officer for Clallam County as well as being a colleague and co-worker at the Jamestown Family Health Center. 

Dr. Berry said it was her pleasure to step forward in the role and it was “quite an honor to take over for such an incredible health officer. “I think Tom Locke has really set the stage for what a health officer can do and what a difference a health officer can make, and I have been honored to learn from him,” she said.

All three Commissioners leveled praise on Dr. Locke’s commitment to the community. Heidi Eisenhour said she called Dr. Locke Mr. Rogers “because the adults and kids of the county have been tuning it to hear his weekly updates. I think we need to give you a cardigan sweater,” she said.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry by emailing contactus@kptz.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.

County Public Health Report ~ 7/12

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.

Of all the eligible County residents 12 years and older, County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke reported that 70% have been fully vaccinated. “This is among the highest rates in the state,” he said. “ But it’s not where we really need to be to control the variants.  We need that population immunity rates in the 80-85% range to really control that transmission of variants, and we knew very early on we were in a race with the variants that if we didn’t get people vaccinated soon enough.” Locke said vaccine-induced immunity is much more protective than natural immunity, and “you don’t run the risk that 10-30% getting long COVID or the 5-10% risk of being hospitalized, or if your child is around 2% of children who are getting COVID-19 are now being hospitalized.” He stressed that people who have had COVID-19 “still need to get vaccinated because it is the only way to give them good protection from the variants that are likely coming.” It takes five to six weeks from the first vaccination to be fully protected. COVID-19 cases in Jefferson are circulating among those who are unvaccinated. Dr. Locke noted of the 10 cases reported last week, five were in one household. Every person tested positive. None were hospitalized . As of today, two people are in the hospital and one is  in the ICU with COVID-19.

Director Of Emergency Management Wilie Bence said DEM is winding down its pop-up clinic efforts. They will be ready to handle long-term vaccination strategy focused on distributing booster shots when they’re available. If you have questions about vaccinations, are homebound or just need help scheduling, call 360-344-9791. He noted hospitalizations and bed occupancy are up across the state due to people choosing elective surgeries.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing contactus@kptz.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.