Covid-19 update: 4th death reported
One new case reported; total now stands at 173
August 12, 2021
(This story was updated Monday, Aug. 16.--Ed.)
Wahkiakum Health and Human Services (WHHS) on Monday received positive test result notifications for two additional covidD-19 cases in Wahkiakum County residents. WHHS has also received a report of one additional COVID related fatality. This brings the county to a cumulative total of 173 cases with nine of those potentially active and four fatalities.
Out of respect for their family, and due to the size of the County, WHHS will not be releasing any demographics on the deceased other than that this one was in the 65+ age group and female.
Last week, on August 17, WHHS issued an update reporting one more case of covid-19 for a cumulative total of 171 cases in the county. Nine cases were considered to be potentially active at that time, and three deaths of county residents had been attributed to the virus.
The person who was diagnosed then was in self quarantine and no connections to Wahkiakum School District or St. James Family Center have currently been found, according to WHHS.
The statistic about the fourth death entered Washington Department of Health (DOH) databases before it reached the county health department.
State DOH last week report 176 cases in Wahkiakum County and a fourth death attributed to covid-19.
“We are aware of another possible COVID related fatality,” WHHS Director Chris Bischoff said in an email on Aug. 10. “We are consulting with our health officer. It’s complicated.”
Bischoff took a moment to discuss the discrepancies between the numbers from DOH and WHHS.
“They are the ‘official’ keeper of that number,” he said. “That being said, they also end up having to adjust their numbers more than we do. There are a few cases that they will still give to us even though we think they actually belong to a different county, so I’m not counting them. People move around and won’t stay in one place while we count them, is the biggest reason for the discrepancy.
"For example, we were asked a couple weeks ago to transfer a case to another county because the person is in assisted living there, though their home address is here. We did all of that in the state system, but the state still has to subtract one from our count and add it to the other county. We also occasionally get our cases assigned to other counties and then transferred here and vice versa.”
According to DOH, 3,543 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the county, 15 more than the previous week. The percentage of the county population to get a vaccination remains under 50 percent, Bischoff said.
“Vaccines are still very slow,” Bischoff said. “We do get a few here and there. The current thought is that the FDA will give Pfizer full approval in the next two to three weeks removing the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) tag. There is thought that this might drive some increased vaccinations, we’ll see. We are prepared if there is a surge of interest.”
Nine variants have been detected in Wahkiakum, according to DOH, Bischoff said, but so far Delta is not one of them.
“Cowlitz and Clark have now had Delta cases detected,” he added. “There is some preliminary indication that Delta is spreading more rapidly among the young and there may be increased susceptibility for younger people to this strain. The data is still being looked at around that issue though, so this is far from certain. With school restarting already in other States, this will be an important item to watch.”
As for booster shots, Bischoff says not yet.
“The CDC and FDA feel like the vaccines are still holding their own,” he said. “Moderna and Pfizer both are holding over 90% efficacy after six months. Johnson & Johnson is not doing as well against the Delta variant, but we need the CDC and FDA to okay a booster before we can give one.”
Vaccines are freely available to anyone 12 or older in Wahkiakum County. Getting vaccinated is the best possible protection from COVID-19. WHHS encourages everyone who hasn’t already been vaccinated to contact the Health Department or their personal medical provider and get scheduled to get a vaccine. The Health Department can be reached at 360-849-4041, M-F 8 to 430.