County covid-19 update: Test, trace, isolate, quarantine
April 23, 2020
As of Tuesday night, Wahkiakum County’s positive test count for covid-19 remained at two. According to the Washington Department of Health’s website, 44 residents have been tested.
Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff addressed how to tackle the coronavirus crisis, and what was needed before the stay at home order was lifted.
Test, trace, isolate and quarantine.
“We need widespread testing of all suspect cases, Bischoff said. “If we find someone who has covid-like illness, we test them. If they are positive, we test everyone they have come in legitimate contact with, whether they are well or not.”
Currently, only people who are symptomatic receive tests, but the virus is still being spread by people who’ve mild symptoms or remain asymptomatic.
“Testing needs to be widespread to keep this from exploding in the United States,” Bischoff said. “Right now, Washington State could do close to 20,000 tests a day, but they are actually only capable of getting 4,000 done in the state because of massive supply shortages.”
Bischoff said that even if the state were testing 20,000 a day, it would not be sufficient.
“I’ve got to be able to say, ‘I’ve got a concern about this area and I need to get all these people tested,’ and we’ve got to be able to get it done,” he said. “We’re not able to do that right now.”
After an individual is tested positive, all their contacts must be traced and then isolated while they wait for their own test results.
But isolation also includes anyone who is at higher risk because of age or an underlying condition.
And finally, quarantine anyone who tests positive so they don’t have contact with other people until they are covid free.
“The countries that are doing the best at holding down the spread are doing those things extremely well,” Bischoff said.
“I know everybody wants to get out,” he said on Friday. “I know people need to get back to work. I completely understand that. But if we start doing that before we are ready or even slightly prepared for the next wave, before manufacturing has caught up with this, we are going to be in significant trouble two to three weeks from now. We need to stay at home for a few more weeks so we don’t have to go right back into lockdown.”
He reiterated the issue again on Monday.
“From all those folks responsible for their health systems, we’re just 100 percent not prepared if this should balloon up again,” Bischoff said. “That’s every county. King County spoke up. They are not ready. Their hospitals are not ready, their public health staff aren’t ready. We don’t have enough personal protective equipment. There are so many reasons why we need to try to keep the downward trend going for a few more weeks, so we can catch our breath, so we can catch up.”