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County Public Health Report ~ 4/18/22

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 of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary below was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry today reported local COVID-19 case rates are at 270/100,000 putting us in the higher risk zone where she strongly recommends masking indoors with a high quality mask. Our percent positivity is up to 8.5%. In Jefferson, there is an online form where people can submit a positive home test. Dr. Berry said that between 70-90% of cases reported are from home antigen tests. Here is a link to a site where you can securely report your test results: https://app.smartsheet.com/…/7146918f3f854cf6bfdfffc4f0…

The latest surge is being driven by the BA.2 variant that makes up about 75% of the positive tests in the County and the reduction in mitigation measures. People are going to stores, restaurants and school unmasked. “If we saw (hospitalizations rise) in other parts of the country, that might change our mitigations here….that’s really the trigger,” Dr. Berry said. “We’ve gotten our vaccines, we’ve gotten our boosters and so many of us had recent infection with COVID-19,” she continued. “And so between those two, we are hopeful that we can prevent severe disease.”

Influenza is on the rise in Jefferson. “Now is a really good time to get vaccinated,” Dr. Allison Berry explained. “It’s important to remember that while influenza is less dangerous than COVID-19, it still can be quite dangerous, especially people for people who are very young, for people who are elderly, or for people who have underlying chronic conditions.” Influenza vaccines are available from pharmacies, the local health office, and your physician. Dr. Berry said masking will help keep transmission of the flu in check.

County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry addressed the need for the second booster shot. “There is an option for a second booster which is a fourth dose for anyone 50 and over in the United States,” she explained. “The data around that booster is that it is safe…It’s not clear yet that it’s needed though, because we are still seeing excellent protection from three doses.” She stressed that the most important thing to do to prevent risk of severe disease is to get vaccinated and get that first booster for a total of three doses for most. “If you are immunosuppressed, that fourth dose is really critical,” Dr. Berry continued. “If you’re taking immunosuppressive medications, if you have a genetic immunodeficiency, if you’re getting treated for cancer, or if you have had a cancer in the past, it’s been successfully treated. All of those, folks. Really good idea to get that fourth dose. Everyone else. It’s not clear yet how necessary it is. It’s certainly a reasonable option.” Fourth doses are available locally in our healthcare system, at pharmacies, and at Jefferson County Public Health.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and Willie Bence by emailing contactus@kptz.org. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.