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

Covid-19 update: Wahkiakum has no 6th case; upticks increase the risk


Last week, due to an internal error, the Washington Department of Health reported a sixth confirmed case of covid-19 in Wahkiakum County. The error has since been corrected, and Wahkiakum’s total count for confirmed cases remains at five as of Tuesday night, with 358 tests conducted so far.

Pacific County is reporting 30 cases, and 11 of those are considered active. Cowlitz County’s numbers continue to rise rapidly. They are reporting 420 positive cases, 46 more than a week ago. Of those cases, 246 are considered active. Across the river in Columbia County, there have been 70 confirmed cases, and in Clatsop County, 71.

“We saw on the DOH website that there was a case reported for us on Wednesday [July 22],” Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said Monday. "It was not yet in the state’s data reporting system, which causes issues. Eventually our public health nurse was able to track that down, figure out who it was, and start her investigation. When she called the individual, the person was surprised to hear that they were positive because they were told by their provider that they were negative.”

After speaking with several people, the public health nurse was able to determine that the lab report had misinterpreted, likely by someone at DOH, who entered the results as positive, when they were actually negative.

According to Bischoff, the lab reports are not standardized, and sometimes that means it takes awhile to interpret the results because of different reporting styles.

“It would be nice if maybe the federal government would say that you will report your results In this manner, so everybody could get used to reading them, but that’s not the way it goes. So it requires people to pay attention,” he said.

“There is an interesting theory out there that we are inflating the numbers, whoever we are, and I wanted to use this as an opportunity to point out that in Washington State, I have a pretty high confidence, because each of these cases is contacted directly by a nurse, and a investigation starts, and the lab reports are reviewed,” Bischoff added. “Yes, this is going to happen from time to time, but they get corrected, and you can see those corrections happen. In Washington State, that data is verified by numerous people to make sure we get it right.”

“Those folks out here who think we’re trying to make it worse than it actually is, we don’t need to, it’s really bad,” he said.

Bischoff noted that Yakima County numbers had been holding fairly steady.

“They have gotten their stuff under control, but they are also reporting, whether you want to say coincidentally or as a causative agent, that their mask wearing is up in the high 90 percent now, as far as compliance to wearing masks in social settings,” he said.

New cases per day in Washington are trending upward. The average has risen to 790 cases per day, with an even more recent rise to 800 with a couple big days over the weekend.

“We are seeing a lot more cases in the less vulnerable population,” Bischoff said. “So less vulnerable means less vulnerable to fatality. It does not mean less vulnerable to having serious symptoms or long term ramifications. One of the things we are seeing across the country, generally, is that these people who are in this more risky population are being more careful and catching it less often, while people who think they are bullet-proof, aren’t.”

He used Florida as an example.

“In June, when they started their real uptick,” Bischoff said, “it was really all about the younger populations. Now it is all across the board, even among the more susceptible populations.”

In other words, an uptick means there are more chances for anyone to catch covid-19.

“If you are standing in a room with a 100 people and your rate of infection is very low, then you have a low chance of getting it,” Bischoff said. “If you are standing in a room with 100 people and the number of people with covid-19 is much higher, you stand a much better chance of getting it. In Florida, the younger population were going to the beaches, increasing the load of disease in the community, making it much easier for people in the riskier age bracket to end up with the disease.”

Finally, Bischoff reminded everyone to be kind, including himself.

“We are all feeling this,” he said. “There is nobody that I’ve met, talked to, or interacted with that does not feel the stress of this situation. If all of us could keep that in mind in our interactions and treat other people kindly and not berate them.”


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