Covid-19 update

County cases reach 209


September 23, 2021

Two more Wahkiakum County residents tested positive for covid-19 on Tuesday, according to Wahkiakum Health and Human Services (WHHS), bringing the cumulative total to 209, with 14 considered potentially active. A total of 13 people have been hospitalized, and five deaths have been attributed to covid-19.

On Tuesday, St. John Hospital in Longview was treating 29 covid-19 positive patients. The number is still high, but down from 60 just two weeks ago, according to PeaceHealth spokesman Randy Querin, who said that back in June, they had maybe one, two, or three people being treated for the virus each day.

This was on top of the usual numbers of patients they see each day, and required all hands on deck, Querin said, People who needed things like knee surgery or to have stents placed in their heart were getting phone calls to delay their procedures.

WHHS is continuing their normal vaccine clinics, and Director Chris Bischoff said that if boosters and kids get approved for vaccination, they might schedule additional times and dates.

Pfizer has submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration for kids aged 5-11.

“Indications are that they will receive EUA (emergency use authorization) for that before the end of October,” Bischoff said. “I have had numerous parents indicate that they are very nervous sending their kids to school without this vaccine available. I'm certain it will be a big relief for some people.”

While boosters are recommended for people who are immunocompromised, boosters for the general population have not yet been approved. It appears some are coming, Bischoff said.

“The Centers for Disease Control will probably authorize boosters for Pfizer recipients within the next week or so,” Bischoff said. “We're not sure, but it looks like the boosters will only be for 65 and older and people with certain underlying conditions. Not certain whether these will be the same underlying conditions as before or not.”

Data has been submitted for evaluation of Moderna and Johnson and Johnson booster, Bischoff said. He added that they may know in a couple weeks if those boosters have been approved and for whom.

The percentage of Wahkiakum residents who have been vaccinated continues to rise slowly, with 45.7 percent of the total population fully vaccinated. In that same group, 49.6 percent have initiated vaccination. As for anyone 12 and up, 55.1 percent have initiated vaccination and 50.7 percent are fully vaccinated, compared with the state, which is 68.9 percent fully vaccinated. All told, 3,711 doses of the vaccine have been given to people in the county. The biggest increase in vaccine percentages in the county came in the 18-34 age range, which rose from 34.5 percent to 37.1 percent fully vaccinated. In the 12-17 age range, 23.9 percent are fully vaccinated; in the 35-49 demographic, 48.3 percent are fully vaccinated; 48.5 percent of people between the ages of 50-64 are vaccinated; and 61.2 percent of everyone over the age of 65 are vaccinated.

PeaceHealth St. John Hospital and Kirkpatrick Family Care in Longview are apparently offering treatment with monoclonal antibodies, Bischoff said.

“This treatment is for some people that are mildly to moderately symptomatic and has been shown to be somewhat effective at reducing hospitalizations in that group,” he said. “This is currently an intravenous treatment which requires about 15 to 30 minutes of IV administration and then an hour of monitoring afterword. It has not been shown to protect against infection or provide any sort of lasting immunity. It is approved under the same EUA (emergency use authorization) protocol that other treatments and vaccines have been.”

Bischoff said that an injection has been approved and may be available soon, but for now, only the IV treatment is available.

“There is limited availability of this treatment,” Bischoff added, “due largely to the incredible number of cases currently in the US. Some versions of the IV treatment are heavily subsidized by the government, while others are fairly expensive, but should largely be covered by insurance.

"Monoclonal antibodies are a lab created antibody that your body would eventually produce to fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Receiving these early in the progress of the disease allows the body to ramp up its defenses much sooner than it might on its own. This allows your body to fight off the virus before it gets extremely bad.”

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