Wahkiakum cases now 118; county expands clinic outreach
May 20, 2021
There was one more case of covid-19 reported in Wahkiakum County last Thursday, another one this Thursday, and six more reported Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 125, with 11 considered potentially active.
“We do have a couple more [cases] brewing, but we are not confirmed yet,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said on Monday. “So there is some activity going on in Wahkiakum. We are still investigating. We may see as many as five cases by the end of the week. We’re not certain.”
According to the data, new cases per day are coming down in Washington, but numbers still remain high.
“The good news is that hospitalizations have come down and have continued to come down, so we are hoping that is a vaccination sort of metric that we are seeing,” Bischoff said.
The state has given out six million doses of the vaccine. Wahkiakum has administered at least one dose to 40 percent of the entire population. Of the eligible population, which includes everyone 16 and over, it’s almost 47 percent, with 41 percent fully vaccinated.
Those numbers are similar to nearby counties, but Bischoff suggested looking at it as a competition.
“We are Wahkiakum, we can do better than anybody else,” he said. “Come get your shot. Everybody wants to get to 80 or 90 percent at least. Obviously our goal is 100 percent, but I would settle for a high 70 percent.”
Today (Thursday) WHHS will hold a clinic at Wahkiakum School District, administering the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to kids who are 12 and up. The second dose will be administered two days before school gets out for the summer.
Bischoff advised parents to turn in their consent forms as soon as possible and said that parents are welcome to attend the clinic, but asked them to let organizers know in advance.
“We need to know how many people are coming to that,” Bischoff said.
At WHHS’s shot clinic on Saturday, they gave second doses to a lot of people, Bischoff said, and first doses to another 18 people. The National Guard was in town on Sunday and they administered 17 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at the Norse hall and 11 more at the Skamokawa Town Center.
“Last Thursday, the CDC dropped a bomb,” Bischoff said. “It was not super helpful. They changed their guidance. They are saying if you are fully vaccinated, which is 14 days after the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or 14 days after the single dose of Johnson and Johnson, you don’t need to wear a mask in many situations.”
“The biggest issue is that governors and states are allowed to be more stringent in most cases, and this is one of those cases. In the state of Washington we still have a mask mandate. Labor and Industry rules are still in effect until they are changed, the ones that say you have to wear a mask in the office,” he added.
Some guidance had been updated in Washington State, but as of Monday, that had not.
“My expectation is that L&I will make those allowances that the CDC recommends but they will probably ask the employer to verify vaccination before they allow employees to work without masks,” Bischoff said.
Some retailers will keep the mask mandate, but it is expected to vary from place to place.
“We know some people will use this as an opportunity to not wear a mask whether they are vaccinated or not, which will drive our case rates up,” Bischoff said.
Even once this is all clarified, he said, the CDC has made it clear that this does not apply to federal transportation, schools, places like prisons and assisted living facilities, nursing homes or hospitals. You will still need to wear a mask in those places, whether you are vaccinated or not.
Why the new guidance?
They are finding that vaccinations not only reduce your chance of developing the symptoms of covid, but they also reduce the risk of passing it on to someone else, Bischoff said.