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

Covid-19 update:

Wahkiakum case load steady; Bump coming from holiday?


As of Tuesday night, 110 people in Wahkiakum County had been tested for covid-19, and the number to test positive remained at four according to the Washington Department of Health.

Pacific County held steady at nine, while the number of positive cases had gone up to 74 in Cowlitz County. Across the river, there were 45 positive cases in Clatsop County and 16 in Columbia County.

As for a potential bump because of any Memorial Day festivities or gatherings, Bischoff estimates that Tuesday or Wednesday this week would be the earliest we would see that reflected in the number of positive cases.

Community spread in Cowlitz?

“I would say to some extent there is but it is not really bad,” Director of Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Chris Bischoff said. “The worst example right now in our state is Yakima County. They have widespread community spread of the disease.”

There were 3,617 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Yakima County as of Tuesday night, with 96 deaths reported and 316 hospitalizations.

Washington has more than 22,000 confirmed cases, and is reporting 1,129 deaths so far.

As of Monday, 75 employees at Pacific Fruit Packing Plant in Clark County had tested positive for covid-19.

“When the health department began investigating,” Bischoff said, “that company had done nothing to prevent the spread of covid-19.”

They were shut down, and the environmental health section of Clark County Public Health has been there to try and help institute controls and show staff where to put things to keep people safe, Bischoff added.

He also said that Ilani Casino, along with some other casinos in the state have reopened after instituting some safety measures including sneeze guards and requiring everyone to wear masks.

“They are trying to be very careful,” Bischoff said. “Hopefully that doesn’t cause us any issues any time soon."

R0, otherwise known as

R subzero or R naught

The unimpeded speed of the covid-19 virus, or it’s R0 is about 2.5, Bischoff said. If a disease has a R0 below 1, that means that the disease is going to decrease and not be able to sustain itself.

“Generally that 2.5 means that if I contract covid-19, I’m going to give it to 2.5 people without any controls in place,” Bischoff said.

Once you put controls in place, scientists will use the Re, which means that controls have been put into place to slow the spread

A basic summation of one recent report that Bischoff shared on Friday is that on the westside of the state, the

Re is less than 1, which means the disease prevalence is decreasing, and on the eastside of the state, the Re is greater than 1, which means the disease prevalence is increasing.

On a worldwide basis, the R0 uncontrolled for coronavirus is 2.5. There are many places in the US where the R0 is way above that, Bischoff said.

“It will be one of those things five years from now, we will have nailed that number now,” he added.

For covid-19, the R0 is 2.5. For the regular flu virus, the R0 is between 1.2 or 1.5. So this is twice as contagious as a normal flu. At the other end of the spectrum, measles has an R0 of 12, which is why public health freaks out when there is a measles outbreak, Bischoff said.

Garage sales

“The state has issued no guidance on garage sales,” Bischoff said. “They are fairly private. In Wahkiakum I don’t think anyone is necessarily going to shut you down.”

Still, he noted, in Phase 2, we are limited to five people in any space.

“Phase 2 is pretty nebulous at this point,” Bischoff said. If you are going to have a garage sale as an individual, that’s probably legitimate.

“Clearly, garage sales should be allowed under Phase 3,” he added. “If you and 35 of your closest neighbors are going to have a garage sale, it would probably be more appropriate to wait for Phase 3.”

On Monday, Bischoff said the number of new cases was trending upward in the state again.

“We’ve been hitting some pretty high marks here lately,” he said. “We’re trending in the wrong direction as a state.”

Masks on employees

Beginning June 8, all employees must wear masks unless you are alone in an office, alone in a vehicle, or alone at a job site. Employers must provide the masks. Employees may choose to wear their own, so long as it works as well as the one provided by the employer.

It has not been mandated for customers to wear masks at this time.

Covid-19’s affect on organs

“We’ve been seeing in some percentage of the cases, it’s not just affecting the lungs,” Bischoff explained when someone asked about cardiovascular issues that had been showing up with the virus. “It’s moving through the blood system and affecting other organs. It’s fairly well established now that it’s been known to attack kidney function, the heart, and a couple other organs. The evidence is becoming more clear on that. More hospital systems are directing the immediate use of anti-coagulents, and that seems to be helping. It’s not set in stone, and I don’t believe the correlation is 100 percent. People who have severe symptoms may not experience organ issues but many of them do. Severe symptoms may include literally whole body symptoms with organs as well as lungs and pulmonary issues. That is one of those evolving areas of knowledge. It’s not a surprise at this point, we’ve seen enough of it.”

“Covid is not gone," Bischoff warned. “It’s waiting to come back. It is a pandemic in our population and will easily spread so until we get a vaccination or immunization, regardless of the phase or stage of lockdown we’re in, everybody needs to be careful, whether you are young and healthy, young and not healthy, old and healthy, old and not healthy, or somewhere in between, everyone has some risks from this and everyone can help protect everybody else if we all work together. It’s that sense of community that I think Wahkiakum is so good at.”


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