6 new cases reported; omicron variant is surging
January 6, 2022
Six new cases of covid-19 were reported in Wahkiakum County this week, with five on Monday, and one on Tuesday. This brings the cumulative total to 270 cases, with seven considered potentially active.
According to the Washington Department of Health, there have been 18 hospitalizations reported in Wahkiakum and five deaths have been attributed to the virus.
St. John Hospital had 25 patients being treated for covid-19 on Tuesday, 10 more than were reported this time last week.
“Omicron is surging,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said. “Across the United States and in Washington State new cases of covid-19 are surging. We have had six new cases in the last few days, and Cowlitz is reporting as many as 100 new cases a day in the last week.”
As for the local cases, Bischoff says they appear to be largely unrelated, as far as WHHS can tell.
Omicron and immunity
“We have been getting better information on omicron,” Bischoff said. “It is potentially safe to say at this point that omicron is better at ignoring or overcoming immunities whether they are from vaccination or from having the disease or even both.
"The data seem to point to having a booster or the vaccine within the last five to six months as being important to protect people. The data are strongly pointing to recent vaccination or boosting as being very effective in lessening the severity of the disease.”
Omicron and transmissibility
“Early data suggests that omicron spreads significantly more readily than Delta, “Bischoff said. “This has not been adequately established by data to say for sure, but the available data seems to suggest that this is true.”
“Reports of additional symptoms for omicron are surging,” Bischoff said. “They include night sweats, backaches, etc. Again there is not enough data to know whether any of these are actual or not. The established symptoms of flu like symptoms, respiratory issues, and loss of taste and/or smell do still apply.”
Vaccinations are not surging
“Vaccinations are important and they work at reducing illness and hospitalizations,” Bischoff said.
The health department vaccine clinic was back up and running Monday, he added, with multiple people in for boosters. The clinic schedule will continue to be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., but will be closed on Monday, January 17, for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The FDA has approved several vaccination changes. They are still awaiting approval by several other entities including the CDC, Bischoff said, but include:
--Boosters for everyone 12 and up will be recommended.
--The distance between vaccination and getting a booster will move to 5 months from the previous 6 months.
--Adding a third primary series dose for certain immunocompromised children 5 through 11 years of age.
Wahkiakum vaccination percentages continue to lag well behind the state, which is reporting that 75.6 percent of the population 12 and up is fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, 52.8 percent of the local population age 12 and up is fully vaccinated.
By age group, the vaccination percentages in Wahkiakum County have changed very little. People between the ages of 12-17 are 27.3 percent fully vaccinated, while 43.5 percent of people between the ages of 18-34 are fully vaccinated. People who are between the ages of 35-49 are 54.6 percent fully vaccinated, while people between the ages of 50-64 are 52.4 percent fully vaccinated. As for those 65 and older, they are 59.1 percent vaccinated.