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

Covid update:

County's case load now at six; vaccine safety a concern


September 17, 2020

The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 in Wahkiakum County remained at six as of Tuesday, with 515 tests having been conducted so far. Numbers continue to rise in counties surrounding Wahkiakum, including Pacific County where they are up to 77 positive cases, 12 of which are considered active.

In Cowlitz County, they have had 584 confirmed cases, 77 remaining active. Across the river in Columbia County, there have been 145 cases. Seven are currently infectious. In Clatsop County, they are up to 104 positive cases, with seven considered active.

“All six of our cases have recovered,” Wahkiakum County Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said on Monday. “We now have the lowest case count in the state. Garfield County, which had been at zero for a long time, is now up to 10.”


According to Bischoff, there are currently nine vaccines in Phase 3, which means they are being tested on thousands of people across the globe. Some people in each of the studies receive a vaccine, while others get a placebo.

“Going that large allows you to find those very small chance complications that can happen,” Bischoff said. He also explained that the placebo is added to the trials to make sure that people aren’t just responding to a perceived effect.

One vaccine program in the United Kingdom, AstraZeneca, was paused for a few days after an individual who received the vaccine developed Transverse Myelitis.

“They paused the study to make sure that wasn’t caused by the vaccine,” Bischoff said. “They haven’t released a report, but they have resumed their trial, so I’m guessing they are going to put out a report that shows that it didn’t have any relationship.”

Bischoff said that it wasn’t unusual to pause trials, but it was a little unusual to pause for one case.

“AstraZeneca wanted to really demonstrate to the public that they are doing everything they can to make sure this is safe,” Bischoff said. “Everyone who is familiar with this process realizes that we are trying to do something much faster than we’ve ever really done it. Oftentimes you sacrifice things to get things done fast, and they are trying to demonstrate that they are unwilling to sacrifice people’s safety for expediency.”

Safety is much on Bischoff’s mind, and his peers.

“The Department of Health has no intention of distributing a vaccine that has not been demonstrated to be safe,” he said. “I talked with other health officers around the area. I would never ask anyone to get a vaccine that I’m not willing to get poked with and that was the agreement amongst all of us. If something gets pushed, similar to the way China tried to push one out, or Russia, there will be significant resistance.”

There is some hope that there may be a vaccine as early as mid to late November, Bischoff added, as they expect to have one or more vaccines that have safely passed through wide spread trials, but it will take some time to ramp up manufacturing and to get those doses distributed.

Flu shots

Bischoff encouraged everyone to get their flu shots.

“There is no evidence that they don’t co-occur, and there is some evidence that they do co-occur,” he said.

Meaning? You can get the flu and covid-19 at the same time.

“Please, please, plan on getting your flu shot,” he said.

Children and covid-19

A South Korean study has shown that children between the ages of 10-19 are fully capable of getting covid-19, of passing it on, and of having the illness, Bischoff said.

They are also learning that children as young as six months are getting covid-19. Bischoff cited a case in Utah where they found 12 kids in two child care centers who all had covid-19. Three were asymptomatic, while they other nine had covid-19 symptoms.

“Kids are not immune from this and are capable of passing it on to potentially more susceptible individuals,” Bischoff said. “They are also capable of catching the disease and having very serious, up to fatal, reactions to covid-19.”


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