H&HS director offers update on covid-19
March 12, 2020
Wahkiakum County Health Department officials continue to monitor the impact of the new covid-19 virus as it spreads across Washington state and the rest of the world.
Although there are no cases in Wahkiakum County, the health department is taking steps to reduce the chance of exposure, Health & Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said Tuesday.
Last week, the department cancelled public meetings set for Wednesday and Thursday of this week to gather input for updating the county's junk vehicle ordinance.
This week, the department has cancelled the Living Well health services fair planned for later this month at Johnson Park in Rosburg. Vendors were withdrawing, Bischoff said, and staff decided to follow the recommendation of the World Health Organization--limit social contact.
The event will be rescheduled once officials have a good understanding how the epidemic will proceed.
According to the Washington State Department of Health report on Tuesday, there have been 267 confirmed cases in Washington and 24 deaths.
Bischoff commented that there is a shortage of testing kits, so the actual number of cases is probably under reported.
The virus has hit hardest in King County, where 22 out of the 24 deaths have occurred.
Many businesses and companies in the area have asked employees to work at home, if possible, to limit social contact. Schools and colleges have closed classrooms and put instruction on line.
On Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee mandated stringent protocols for visitors to nursing homes and retirement centers, where most of the deaths have occurred. Residents are limited to one visitor per day, and visitors and staff undergo screening upon entering.
Bischoff repeated advice offered a week ago about how to stay healthy: Avoid crowds; try to keep a distance of six feet from other people; wash hands often; don't shake hands when greeting people.
A person who feels ill should stay home from school or work.
Covid-19 symptoms include a 104 degree fever and shortness of breath. People experiencing symptoms should see their primary care practitioner, but they should call the clinic and meet the care team outside. The same goes for people without practitioners who might go to an emergency department.
If someone is ill at home, they should stay in one room, and surfaces should be sanitized.
County Commissioner Mike Backman suggested Bischoff and the health department could organize a service to provide food or meals to individuals who might be quarantined with the illness.
Bischoff said the department's social service coordinator could coordinate service for people seriously in need.
Otherwise, the department doesn't have the staff to provide that service, and he would hope the faith community or other organizations would look after neighbors.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases
in Washington as of March 10
County Confirmed Positive Deaths
Clark 1 0
Grant 1 1
Jefferson 1 0
King 190 22
Kitsap 2 0
Kittitas 1 0
Pierce 14 0
Skagit 1 0
Snohomish 54 1
Unassigned 2 0
Total 267 24
Source: Washington Department of Health