County has no new cases; new variant a concern
December 2, 2021
With no new cases of covid-19 in the past week, the cumulative number of cases in Wahkiakum County remains at 261. Of those, two are considered potentially active. The Washington Department of Health is reporting 17 hospitalizations, an increase of one in the past week, and attributing five deaths to the virus.
“Cases continue to fall around the state,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said in an email on Tuesday. “The number of new cases per day is still too high though. We haven't had a new case in over a week, which is awesome.”
“The main topic currently, of course, is omicron,” Bischoff said. “[It] sounds like something out of a comic book. Probably not going to be very funny though.”
“It is still way too early to know if this is going to be a big deal or not,” Bischoff continued. “On a recent briefing we were shown the percentage of cases in South Africa by variant type, and omicron overtook delta as the dominant virus in a two week span.
"That is very concerning. There is a significant volume of stories around this new variant that make it feel very bad, but the important thing right now is for people to know that it is too early for anyone to say anything definitive about this new variant. None of the precautions change [regarding] mask wearing, social distancing, getting vaccinated, etc. As we get more solid information on this we will share it out with folks.”
Bischoff continues to recommend the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health websites as the best places for information.
Less scary variants?
Bischoff said he was recently asked why there weren’t any less scary variants of the virus.
“The simple answer is there are,” he said. “A lot. Every person who gets the SARS-COV-2 virus begins making multiple copies of the virus (as many as 100 billion copies according to this study: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/25/e2024815118.) 100 billion per person infected? That’s really big math. Every time a copy is made there are errors in that copy. Most of the errors do nothing, some of the errors harm the virus and some make it worse for us.”
“If a mutation…renders a virus less transmissible, then that variant will die off as more transmissible versions dominate, that's just math,” Bischoff said. “There's just no 'news' in that storyline. There are a huge number of variants that we never hear of because they don't survive long enough to get picked up for genetic analysis.”
Vaccines are available
According to the Washington Department of Health, 4,300 doses of the vaccine have been given to Wahkiakum County residents.
While the state percentage of the population 12 and up to be fully vaccinated is at 74.6 percent with 80.8 percent having had at least one dose, only 52.6 percent of Wahkiakum County residents age 12 and up are fully vaccinated, while 55.9 percent have had at least one dose.
“People keep coming in small numbers for our regular vaccine clinic,” Bischoff said. “It is usually a mix of very few first adult doses, some boosters, and a few of the kids vaccine.”