The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Jefferson and Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.
As the rest of the county experiences surges in COVID-19 cases primarily due to the Delta and Omicron variants, Jefferson County remains steady with a case rate of 180/100. Three people are hospitalized and no new deaths have been reported. County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry told the Commissioners this morning that the Omicron variant is “incredibly transmissible and that it is starting to overtake Delta in some parts of the country.” Dr. Berry said that she anticipates seeing this happen in January in Washington. There are cases reported in King and Clallam Counties, and she believes that it may be circulating in Jefferson, but the genetic sequencing that will tell her that has not been completed to confirm her suspicions. She also noted that prior COVID-19 infection alone is not enough to protect from Omicron. “We are definitely seeing increased reinfection and, unfortunately, increased breakthrough infection as well,” Dr. Berry said. “The good news is that even if you don’t get a booster, the vaccines are showing very strong protection against hospitalization and deaths from Omicron. And the boosters are showing very strong protection against symptomatic disease. So if you get a booster for for COVID-19, it really should protect you quite well against Omicron. We’re seeing about 70-80% protection against any disease at all if you get your booster. “We’re seeing that the majority of infections right now are among the unvaccinated. And that’s concerning because there was some initial thought that the Omicron variant would be less severe based on some early data coming out of South Africa. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, Omicron is showing the ability to be just as severe as prior variants,” she reported. “But if you are vaccinated, you are much, much less likely to get severe disease, much less likely to get hospitalized.” Dr. Berry strongly recommends being vaccinated and boosted for the best protection during the holidays. Her next report to the Commissioners will be on Monday, January 3. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.