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

Covid-19 update

County cases still 104; county has opening for vaccination requests


With no new covid-19 cases in Wahkiakum County for the last month, the cumulative number remains at 104, with zero active cases.

“We are still the lowest in the state by a little bit,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said Monday.

Cowlitz County was reporting 4,792 total cases on Monday, with 213 considered active, and 63 deaths attributed to covid-19. Pacific County’s total count had risen to 853, with nine considered active and 11 deaths.

Across the river, Columbia County was reporting 1,441 cases and 25 deaths, and Clatsop County was reporting 851 cases and seven deaths.

“Washington is trending upwards again to where we were about two weeks ago, averaging about 658 [new cases per] day,” Bischoff said. “That’s down a lot from July, but it’s back into that spot where we started climbing up in the fall. So far too high, and increasing over the last week. That’s a bad direction to be heading.”

He noted that hospitalizations were increasing in Washington as well.


“When we went several weeks without any vaccines to give in the county, a lot of folks on our list went and got vaccinated otherwise, and people that never got on our list got vaccinated, which is awesome,” Bischoff said. “It just doesn’t get reported out as well. If they went to Cowlitz County, Cowlitz may get the short term credit for that as part of their population being vaccinated, even if it was someone from Wahkiakum.”

The Washington Department of Health website is giving Wahkiakum credit for administering 2,133 doses total, which includes first and second doses.

“It’s not extremely clear to me on the website whether they are actually pulling that information out of Cowlitz and giving us credit for it, or if these are just the ones we’ve done here,” Bischoff said. “There are some that are unreported as far as the county and residents. There are about 70,000 doses in the state where they don’t know which county the person lived in.”

The website is reporting that about 31 percent of the population in Wahkiakum has had one dose, with 21 percent considered to be fully vaccinated, which Bischoff described as two weeks past either the second dose for the Moderna vaccine or the single dose of Johnson and Johnson.

“We’re not the highest,” Bischoff said. “One county has vaccinated 45 percent of their population, which is incredible. And for as much as King County complains, they have a lot more people vaccinated percentage-wise than I thought they would.”

Across the state, 74 percent of people 65 and older have had at lease one dose, while 60 percent are fully vaccinated.

WHHS has been creating lists of people who have so far been considered eligible for the vaccine and called, wanting a vaccine.

“We have exhausted all of our lists,” Bischoff said. “We are going to be begging people to get vaccinated.”

Bischoff reported that the governor announced last week that anyone over the age of 16 would be eligible to receive the vaccine later this month. So far Wahkiakum has not received a vaccine which can be given to anyone under the age of 18, so Bischoff will be starting a new list now, for anyone and everyone 18 and over.

The health department held a vaccine clinic on Tuesday in Cathlamet and another one in Rosburg on Wednesday. There were no plans to give out second doses, but WHHS had 160 doses of Moderna on hand on Monday, and were expecting 100 doses of Johnson and Johnson.

“If people don’t keep calling us, then I am going to stop ordering vaccines, which means that when somebody does call me, I’m going to have to tell them find some place in Cowlitz,” Bischoff said. “To keep vaccines available, I have to keep filling up my lists.”

Bischoff also said that they were willing to give vaccines to people who don’t live in the county, but Wahkiakum residents would get priority. At this time, however, this does not apply to Oregon residents, which have been excluded by the governor to eliminate vaccine tourism.

WHHS is planning to do some evening and weekend clinics.

They have scheduled a shot clinic for April 17 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Hope Center in Cathlamet. Anyone who is 18 and older and is interested in getting vaccinated should call 360-849-4041 to get on the list.

“Call in advance,” Bischoff said. “We will turn people away at the door if they turn up without an appointment.”

They are also looking for volunteers to help with the vaccine clinics. Volunteers will not be administering vaccines or asking about medical history. Anyone can help, Bischoff said, whether it’s to help with parking or to monitor folks for a 15 minute period following their vaccine.

Vaccine “breakthrough”

If someone is vaccinated and they still get sick, the medical/science technical term that is used is “breakthrough,” Bischoff explained.

“None of the vaccines we have are 100 percent effective,” he said. “Moderna and Pfizer are both in the 90 percent levels, Johnson and Johnson 70-80 percent. We expect that there will be people who will get vaccinated and still get sick. The state is investigating all of those, more aggressively than normal because it is a new vaccine and we are in a pandemic.”

“With over one million doses given in the State of Washington, there have been 102 of what they call breakthroughs,” Bischoff said. “Only eight of those 102 were hospitalized. Two died, and those are still being investigated. Two out of a million total doses. Both were in their late 70s or early 80s and had underlying conditions. They may or may not have been SARS-CoV-2 related. Assuming that they are, that’s 10 people who have had to be hospitalized or worse out of one million. Vaccines work.”

Variants arriving

According to Bischoff, the Daily News reported last week that there had been nine confirmed cases of variants in Cowlitz County.

“We have not received notification of any in Wahkiakum because of our small number of people who tested and tested positive,” he said.

The two variants found in Cowlitz were California variants.

“They are similar in a lot of ways,” Bischoff said. “Both show about 20 percent increase in transmissibility. There is a pretty significant impact on some of the therapeutics, or drugs that help people recover or get through covid-19, so those tend to be less effective, and there is a reduction in how well vaccines work.”

Bischoff added that more cases of covid-19 are found to be variants of one kind or another, and that most of the variants that have been identified have been found in Washington.


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