County's case load hits 7; treatment improves for illness
October 8, 2020
Because of a clerical issue, the number of confirmed cases of covid-19 rose to seven in Wahkiakum County over the weekend. 575 tests have been conducted in the county so far. Pacific County is up to 91 cases, with seven considered active. Numbers continue to rise in Cowlitz County, which has 716 confirmed cases, 154 considered active. Across the river Columbia County is up to 213 cases, with 24 currently infectious. In Clatsop County, they are reporting 238 positive cases, with 141 considered active.
“We do have another case in Wahkiakum County,” Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said. “It turns out it’s really sort of a clerical error. We should have been notified about this. Somebody who moved, and was probably recovered by the time they moved to Wahkiakum County, had tested positive. They are assigning the case to us. It was done three months ago in reality.”
Rising number of cases
“All the big counties in Washington State are seeing upticks,” Bischoff said. “Up is the wrong direction all together. There is person to person spread in the counties that are all the way around us, which leads to concern about how we’re doing.”
“We need people to take this seriously again and get back in your good habits,” he said.
Treatment for covid-19 is improving
Bischoff said he would discuss new treatments in further detail next week, but he noted that while there isn’t currently a “silver bullet.” the medical community has found some pretty effective combinations of drugs.
“This is the result of treatment, we’ve gotten a lot better at keeping people alive and off of ventilators,” he said.
Two vaccines currently in Phase 3 have been put on hold again for different reasons, Bischoff said. One has been slowed, as developers struggle with a delivery issue, or how to introduce the vaccine into the body.
However, Bischoff said, hopes are still high for two that could be ready by late November or December.
“We’re still moving forward, we’re still hopeful we can see widespread vaccination in March for everybody,” Bischoff said. “That would be great.”
A new test may soon be available
There are three different kinds of testing being used for covid-19, Bischoff said, antibody, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and now antigen testing.
PCR testing looks at genetic material, or RNA for covid-19. It’s the gold standard for active cases, Bischoff said, and can detect small amounts of the virus, even the first day.
“Normally we have you wait 3-5 days before you do that test,” Bischoff said, “but it is that specific.”
The antibody test isn’t used until symptoms are detected or 7-14 days from the time a person is exposed. By then, the individual may already be recovering.
“It’s not great for detecting the virus, but for detecting it long after,” Bischoff said. “You can still test positive with the antibody test within 60 days.”
Antibodies for covid-19 don’t stay in the body much longer than that.
The new test, antigen, is looking for proteins that are present in the covid-19 virus, Bischoff said, and seems to work better once a person starts developing symptoms. This means there are questions about it’s efficacy for people who are asymptomatic.
Many tests have been approved by the FDA under an emergency rule, Bischoff noted, and they are not going through all the normal procedures to vet their tests, so questions like the one above remain.
“The antigen test looks fast and cheap, and is likely to be used a lot, unless problems emerge,” Bischoff said. “There is a test coming to Washington State that claims results in 15 minutes. They are expected to cost $5 a test.”
They also do not require a machine to determine results.
“We’re kind of excited about this as being very helpful in getting a lot more tests out and being able to find these much quicker,” Bischoff said.