County has 12th case; fall surge has begun
November 12, 2020
As of Tuesday, there were 12 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Wahkiakum County, with 710 tests conducted so far.
The number of positive cases in Pacific County went up exponentially over the last week when they added 28 last Thursday, and four more on Tuesday for a total of 159. Of those, 42 are considered active. Of the four added on Tuesday, two were linked to workplace exposure, one was connected to a medical screening, and the fourth was related to out of county travel.
Cowlitz County is reporting 977 total cases with 253 considered active. Across the river, there are 298 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Columbia County, with 18 considered infectious, and in Clatsop County, they have 293 total cases with 50 considered active.
In October, Washington State was averaging 652 new cases per day. Ten days into November, Washington has almost doubled that number, averaging nearly 1,300 new cases per day.
“We feel like all of our recent cases are outside the county exposures,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said of local numbers. “That is the story we are going with for now. I think everybody needs to assume that it is here, walking around in Wahkiakum.”
“To an extent, Wahkiakum has been dodging that bullet,” Bischoff said of person to person spread. “I would point out though, that in the last four weeks, we are averaging one and a half new cases a week. That’s up pretty significantly. We didn’t reach our sixth case until July, I believe. It took us five months to reach six cases, and in one month, we’ve gone all the way up to 12. That’s problematic. Concerning for us, to say the least.”
Bischoff expects Public Works at the Town of Cathlamet will perform some tests in the next couple weeks to determine if covid-19 is present in the sewer system.
“It’s not going to give us a load level, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it came back as positive,” Bischoff said.
Testing and supplies
Testing is still not available enough for us to say if you want it, go get it, Bischoff said.
“We just don’t have the capacity for that. It’s likely that we are going to run into a similar situation we were at when it took 7-8 days for lab tests because the trends are so strong,” he said. “We have never ramped up to have enough supplies or enough lab capacity. The numbers of tests they are doing for covid-19 are staggering compared to anything they’ve ever done before. Labs have ramped up quite a bit, but this third wave is going to overwhelm the systems. We are trying to avoid it, but that seems to be what’s happening.”
Health providers are still struggling to keep up with much needed supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and right now, hypodermic needles.
“There is a little bit of hoarding going on, people preparing for the next wave,” Bischoff said. “Washington and other states do a decent job of trying to inventory their hospital systems, and most of them are not hoarding, they just don’t have enough supplies. They are ordering as much as they can get and using them. N95s are in short supply again, gloves never did catch up. Hypodermic needles, with more people getting flu shots than normal, which is good, and some preparatory activities for a covid-19 vaccine, they’re in short supply as well. Seattle had to shut down a couple of their flu shot clinics due to lack of hypodermic needles, not due to lack of flu vaccine.”
“We would like everybody to get their flu shots, please, please, please,” Bischoff said.
WHHS still has a flu vaccine available for children, but currently don’t have any available for adults. According to Bischoff, the Family Health Center has flu shots available for their patients. He also said to check the Cathlamet Pharmacy and the usual places in Longview.
“There is a perception that there is a shortage of the flu vaccine, but there is not,” he said. “They are manufacturing it pretty quickly. If you go someplace and they are out, they will probably have it again in a week or two, or you can go somewhere else.”
“It is officially full on into flu season,” Bischoff said. “Washington has already had a couple fatalities from flu, not covid-19, so it’s time to get your flu shot. Past time.”
Mink and mutations
“We have a humans to mink to humans covid-19 spread,” Bischoff said. “Denmark culled many of their minks at the mink farms. In the US, there have been over 10,000 minks that have died of covid-19. They are passing it back to humans, and what is coming back to humans is not the same as what we gave to the mink. It has mutated. One of the mutations does not respond to covid-19 antibodies.”
“When animals start acting as a reservoir, often when they give it back it’s not as nice as when we gave it to them,” Bischoff added. “The longer we keep covid-19 at a high level, the more likely this will happen, and less likely it goes away.”
He pointed out that this has been witnessed in ferrets as well, but so far not in cats, dogs, and other animals.
The Center for Disease Control is currently recommending that people who will be observing Thanksgiving this year to either do it virtually, or outdoors, or if they must travel, to make time for a 14 day isolation.