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

Covid-19 update:

Wahkiakum now has 6th case; flu shots strongly recommended


August 27, 2020

The number of people to test positive for covid-19 in Wahkiakum County rose to six last week, with 447 tests conducted so far.

There have been 529 confirmed cases in Cowlitz County. 117 are considered active, three people are currently hospitalized and six people have died. There were 60 confirmed cases in Pacific County, two of which are considered active. Three people have died. Clatsop County is reporting 94 positive cases, with three considered active. In Columbia County, there are 125 cases, seven of which are currently infectious, and one person has died.

Sixth case

“We had to do some investigation, our public health nurse has reached out to all the close contacts, so if you have not been contacted, you are not a close contact,” Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said. “The individual is pretty symptom free at this point, had some symptoms last week, and went and got tested.

“We’re bout 99 percent sure they were visiting some relatives out of state when they picked it up there. Recently found out that one of the relatives there has tested positive just recently. Pretty good example of not being person to person spread in Wahkiakum, at least at this point, that’s good.”

Flu shot recommended

“Flu season is coming up,” Bischoff said. “It normally starts around the time when school starts, coincidentally.

“It’s actually not a coincidence.

“As far as we know you are capable of getting the flu and covid-19 at the same time. That would be bad. Obviously the early stages of the flu look a lot like the early stages of covid-19, so having a lot of flu virus go around is going to make it much harder to diagnose between the flu and covid-19. We’re hoping with more testing now, that you would probably get a quick flu test and whether you came back positive or negative, you would then move on to a covid-19 test as well.

“We really need people to think strongly, if you are not normally one of those folks who gets a flu shot because you’re bullet proof, or hate vaccines, hate needles, hate doctors, whatever your thing is, we are encouraging everyone, even more than normal, to get their flu shots done,” he added. “I’m not sure when availability is, but it is looking like the end of September, early October for the flu shots being available. As soon as we have it, we will let you know.”

“We need folks to get their flu shot, this year especially,” Bischoff reiterated. “It does not provide any coverage to covid-19. Getting your flu shot will not keep you from getting covid-19. It will just keep you from getting both at the same time, which not only may be extremely unpleasant, but may be fatal. Some ideas say that overlapping flu with covid-19 may increase the fatality of it.”

Can you get covid-19 a second time?

“We do have some confirmed reinfections,” Bischoff said. “One of the things that can happen is that after you’re recovered, you can continue to shed some of the virus particles, which happens randomly and infrequently. So earlier reports of people getting reinfected, you weren’t sure if they were shedding for the first time or if they re-picked up the virus. We know for sure there are some cases where people have picked up the virus. The very good news about that is that it is super super rare. It’s just not happening a lot.”

“Everybody’s immune response is a little bit different,” he said. “Those folks probably have some immune compromise issues or something where their system is not retaining those long term memories about how to fight it. It is really not concerning as far as developing a vaccine or our ability to immunize people against this. It is confirming if you’ve had it or think you’ve had it and never got tested, you still need to take precautions. Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay away from people when you’re sick, that sort of thing.”

Plasma therapy.

“Plasma therapy is when you’re trying to harvest somebody who has had the disease’s antibodies, and inject them into somebody else and hope that they can get the immune system moving more quickly to fight off the disease,” Bischoff said. “This is not a vaccination or immunization, it is a treatment.”

“Some of the things that have come out of the federal system, not so safe,” he continued. “Hydroxychloroquine can absolutely cause heart problems. It can be toxic to your system. That is a problem thing to put out ahead of the science. Plasma therapy again, is being moved ahead of the science, which concerns me, but not as much. We’re using plasma therapy successfully for other treatments. It does work. We understand how to separate plasma from blood, how to make sure it’s safe for folks. It’s lower risk.

“There is still some issue, if I have covid-19 and they take my blood, and they give my plasma to someone else, the concern is that you may actually overload somebody with the covid-19 virus. It’s less likely so not as concerning.

“Part of the problem is that we are not seeing great evidence that this works. So if you are going to the trouble of taking somebody who was just sick, harvesting, take the blood out, separate the plasma, put the platelets back in, and then giving that to someone else. There is a lot of cost, and time involved and effort, and it may not be helping the person that is sick.”

“I’m not sure it’s going to help. I hope it does,” Bischoff said. “It’s been going on for awhile, but the studies that have looked at it, haven’t been looking very great. We’re going to need more widespread studies before we really understand if that is going to do any good or if we are wasting time and money.”

Change and science

“We are not inherently built to change,” Bischoff said. “There is sort of a mistrust brewing around science and medicine worldwide, and part of that is because people are probably, for the first time in their lives, seeing science happen in real time. It can be frustrating. So the things I was saying in March, if you had recorded those and went to replay them now, you’d be like, wow, he was off base.

“That’s science in action. When you get a degree in science, you see it as a process. For most people that aren’t super science educated, the idea of science not being a staid thing, but being something that is constantly learning, evolving, changing is sort of new, and not a very comfortable place for us.”


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