Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Covid-19 update

With 15 new cases in 7 days, case count hits 236; schools start testing program

As of Tuesday, there were 15 new cases of covid-19 reported in Wahkiakum County over the last seven days, with three last Thursday, five on Monday, and seven on Tuesday, for a total of 236. Of those cases, 29 are considered active.

Of the 12 cases reported on Monday and Tuesday, eight were female, and four were male. The youngest was under the age of one, and the oldest was 64.

Wahkiakum Health and Human Services (WHHS) Director Chris Bischoff said the county was not tracking whether these cases were in vaccinated or unvaccinated people but shared a study that the Cowlitz County Epidemiologist issued on Tuesday.

According to the report, scientists have found that 55 out of every 10,000 unvaccinated southwest Washington residents between the ages of 35-49 were hospitalized for covid-19, while only four out of 10,000 fully vaccinated residents between the ages of 35-49 were hospitalized. For southwest Washington residents 65 an older, the numbers are a little higher. They found that 140 out of 10,000 unvaccinated residents were hospitalized, while 20 out of 10,000 fully vaccinated residents were hospitalized.

On Tuesday, there were 27 patients with covid-19 at St. John Hospital, and the majority of them were unvaccinated.

The Washington Department of Health is reporting that 14 Wahkiakum residents have visited the hospital after contracting covid-19 since the pandemic began, and five deaths have been attributed to the virus.

Bischoff provided a breakdown of all the cases in the county since the pandemic began. Of the 236 cases, they are split right down the middle as far as gender, with 118 cases in females, and 118 in males. The highest percentage of cases have occurred in people between the ages of 40-59, at 31 percent for a total of 73. There have been 64 cases in people between the ages of 20-39, and 51 cases in youths aged 0-19. There have been 34 cases in people between the ages of 60-79, and 14 in people aged 80 and over.

There have been 193 cases in the Cathlamet zip code, which includes Puget Island and the Elochoman Valley. There have been 16 cases in the Skamokawa zip code, 12 in the Rosburg zip code, 11 in the portion of the county included in the Naselle zip code, and four in the Grays River zip code.

“Although the state is starting to see a decrease in covid-19 activity, there are still a lot of active cases, and we need to continue to be cautious,” Bischoff said.

In the last week, 28 more doses of the vaccine were administered to Wahkiakum residents. Including the total population of the county, 46.8 percent are fully vaccinated, and of the population 12 and older, 51.9 percent are fully vaccinated, well behind the Washington state’s rate of 70.7 percent.

Wahkiakum School District Superintendent Brent Freeman said that the district was in the process of hiring a contact tracer and a person to test for covid for a school based testing program.

Unvaccinated athletes must be tested regularly, as well as any staff members who have not been vaccinated and are claiming exemption for religious or medical reasons.

On Tuesday this week, eight students in the district had been excluded, or had to stay home, for either testing positive for covid-19 or for having close contact. The number shifts daily and could go up or down. At one point at the beginning of the year, 31 students had been excluded.

Even with a negative PCR test, if a student has close contact, they are out for seven days.

Freeman responded to a question about the looming state mandate that requires all school employees to be fully vaccinated by October 18.

“We’ve had a very high rate of vaccination since they became available,” Freeman said. “While we did have some people who were unvaccinated, a small percentage of them did choose to get vaccinated.”

For those that qualify for medical or religious exemption, they will have to undergo continued testing, wear KN95 masks, and maintain six feet social distancing.

In other news, Bischoff advised Wahkiakum County residents to get their flu shot, which he said is becoming available at various places.


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