The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Covid update: County's case load holds at four; large gatherings pose risk


As of Tuesday night, the number of positive cases for covid-19 in Wahkiakum County remained at four, with 88 people having been tested, according to the Washington Department of Health.

In Pacific County, the number of positive cases was nine, with one death reported. To the east in Cowlitz County, 69 people have tested positive for the virus.

Across the river in Oregon, there were 38 positive cases in Clatsop County and 16 in Columbia County.

On Friday, Director of Health and Human Services Chris Bischoff talked about some of the things Wahkiakum County had going for it, as well as some of its risks.

What is in our favor?

We don’t have a long term care facility, an assisted living facility, migrant worker camps, or large manufacturing. We have a low population density and limited recreation.

“Even though we have great recreation and a beautiful county, we just don’t have the size,” Bischoff said.

We have one child care facility, one school district, one law enforcement entity, one jail, one behavioral health clinic, one transportation system, one municipality.

“We are very able to communicate across our sectors and it’s not hard to do,” Bischoff said. "Many of these folks are actually on a daily call with me where we talk about needs and we make sure we are getting appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and other things out. It puts us in a very good place to respond quickly to anything that does happen.”

What are our risks?

"A lot of our workers importing covid-19 is a big risk,” Bischoff said. “With four cases in the county, three were exposed outside the county. We have one person to person transmission in the county and it was somebody in the same household. That’s good news for us, that we are not passing it from person to person in the county at this point. But the risk is that we do have people who do live here who work in other counties where there are a significant more cases.

“Folks that want to come and stay at Vista Park or all other places that we have for that, those are the things that provide risks to us."

Large public events, like Bald Eagle Day and the fair provide significant risks, but Bischoff pointed out there were other gatherings that people may not be considering--family reunions.

“That is really no different than a bunch of strangers coming together at one time for an event, because you all live in different households and have different exposures, you’ve just increased everybody’s risk by coming together,” he said.

How can we mitigate this risk?

Much of the advice is unchanged.

Wash your hands. Keep social distance. Stay home, which Bischoff explained was a threefold idea.

Stay home when you can, stay home when you are sick, and even when you are well, stay home if someone in your house is sick, because covid-19 spreads even before you have symptoms.

Finally, wear a mask.

“I know this one is really rubbing people wrong, but we really need people to be wearing face masks when they are out in public, he said.


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