Covid-19 update

Covid cases increase; new boosters coming


August 18, 2022

The cumulative number of covid-19 cases rose to 594 in the last week with four new cases reported, according to the Washington Department of Health.

The number of hospitalizations attributed to covid-19 rose by one to 40, and one more Wahkiakum County resident succumbed to the virus, bringing the number of local deaths attributed to covid-19 to nine.

Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said that there were potentially 11 active cases in the county.

Disclaimer: With the easy accessibility of at home tests, the actual number of active covid-19 cases and actual cumulative numbers in the county, are hard to know.

Most counties in the state still have a very high infection rate, Bischoff said, but overall covid-19 activity is on the decline.

Many factors affect the spread of covid-19, monkeypox and other diseases as global issues, Bischoff said.

“There are many factors in infectious disease control and spread that impact this,” Bischoff said. “Right now, in a pandemic, every threatening disease feels much bigger, so we have to factor that into our perceptions. That being said, we have been increasing our surveillance of novel and existing diseases for awhile now.

"It's likely with climate change that we will see a rise in more known diseases like dengue and malaria. These two are due to the ability of the mosquito vector to find suitable conditions. mosquitoes are a warm weather insect, so as the temperatures get warmer the mosquitoes that carry these diseases increase their range. We've already seen in the southern United States where mosquitoes have passed dengue. Certainly the ability to travel anywhere in the world quickly and the interconnectedness of our world wide society help spread diseases faster.

"Another issue of import is vaccine refusal. The polio outbreak in New York is yet another example of this.

"The mechanism for the spread of disease is an important factor in how well it is going to move. Monkeypox has been relatively easily controlled in the past because of how it spreads. This time it’s just found a very susceptible population and has been able to spread much farther and much faster.”

“Ebola is a specific example of a very scary disease that, luckily doesn't transmit that well,” he said. “You find it mostly outbreaking in areas where there are not great water quality standards. We've had a few small outbreaks in the U.S. in the past couple of decades which have helped prepare us for larger ones.

While 69 percent of the total population of Washington state has completed the primary series of vaccinations, only 51.3 percent of the same population in Wahkiakum County has done so.

Not getting a booster shot can create some of the same issues as not getting vaccinated at all.

“It creates opportunities in the population for the disease to flourish,” Bischoff said, “which in turn creates opportunities to mutate. As the disease mutates boosters will change to reflect that and can help keep the disease down.”

Bischoff said that new boosters, specific for omicron, are expected to be available this fall.

“Both Moderna and Pfizer are preparing to submit these to the Food and Drug Administration for review,” he said. “A booster from Moderna that targets the original strain and omicron has just been approved in the United Kingdom.”

The Pfizer vaccine, including a second booster, is available for anyone six months and older at the WHHS vaccine clinic on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. Call 360-849-4041 for more information.

The Moderna vaccine, including a second booster, is available at the Cathlamet Pharmacy. Call 360-795-3691.

A new covid-19 vaccine from Novavax has been approved.

“It is a more traditional vaccine,” Bischoff said.

He believes it may be available in some places in Longview, but the WHHS is not carrying it.

“The minimum order size for vaccines is too large for us to carry more than one type, we would be throwing away a significant amount of vaccine if we tried to keep more than one in stock,” Bischoff said.

There has been a recent change in quarantine and isolation guidance from the Centers of Disease Control for covid-19. Two key takeaways, according to Bischoff are 1) if you test positive for covid-19, you still need to isolate and 2) if you test negative, no need for isolation is necessary, whether you are vaccinated or not.

The number of monkeypox cases has risen to 309 in the state, with 255 of them occurring in King County. Cowlitz and Lewis Counties are reporting one case, and Clark County is reporting three.


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