County Public Health Report ~ 12/14

Today, Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke shared about the recent Jefferson County increase in COVID-19 cases. He answered questions from KPTZ listeners about:

• The infection rate and death numbers are up, nationally and statewide.
• Jefferson County is the 3rd lowest infection rate, although we have dropped to 94/100,000. Cumulative case number is 195.
• The Pfizer vaccine is on its way, will be here shortly, and will be available through Jefferson Healthcare. First-line medical workers are first, then long-term-care residents, followed by government essential workers and then those over 65.
• You can reduce your risk through isolation for at least 7 days, have the PCR test on day 8, then stay in isolation until day 10.
• Evidence shows people are immune for at least 3 months following COVID-19 infection.
• The Pfizer vaccine research and trials information is public.
• Yes, our hospital does have the advanced treatment drugs on hand.
• Excess deaths: If death is from another cause, it is not counted as a COVID-19 test even if the person is infected.
• Good websites: CDC, WADOH, also NY Times and Washington Post information.
• Each test has pros and cons: none of the tests are 100% accurate.
• The old test swabs that were painful have been replaced by an easier, less invasive swab that is self administered.
• When flying, use a high-efficiency mask and meticulous hand sanitizing; take direct flights; avoid lengthier flights.
• You are more likely to become infected from droplets, which are larger, than from smaller aerosols.
• Municipal wastewater studies are not as useful, though these studies are valid.
• The Pfizer vaccine may offer reduction in severity of illness, but it is still unknown whether people can spread the disease. This will become known as more people take the vaccine.
• Proof of vaccination: everyone will have a record. At first, the same restrictions will apply, whether vaccinated or not. It requires a 70% vaccination rate for these to be lifted.
• The new CDC quarantine guidelines have been revised. For high-risk situations, the wait time is still 14 days. In some cases, 10 days may be sufficient. The 7 days with test quarantine is not practical, due to efficacy.
• For a PCR positive test confirmed case, with no symptoms, the quarantine is 10 days.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Tom Locke by emailing