17th COVID-related death reported in Grays Harbor County Monday

Grays Harbor Public Health officials on Monday reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, raising the total number of cases to 933, and an additional death.

The county’s death total stands now at 17. A 16th death was reported Friday, along with 21 new cases reported that day.

In Pacific County, 93 COVID-19 cases were reported Saturday.

Grays Harbor County

Data current as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday shows 82 active cases under isolation or quarantine in Grays Harbor County. There are 229 active case investigations underway, with 47 new contacts reported Monday.

The transmission type over the week of Nov. 8-14 showed more than half the cases attributed to being in close contact with a known COVID case. Community transmission, where no specific source of transmission can be established, the most concerning kind of transmission according to Public Health Director Karolyn Holden, was at more than 36%. Less than 2% of transmission has been attributed to travel, while less than 10% is “pending” a source as investigations continue.

According to data on the state coronavirus dashboard last updated Friday, there have been 59 hospitalizations in Grays Harbor County. Of the 17 deaths, two were attributed to July, five to August, four to September, four to October, and two this month.

Grays Harbor County administered 1,479 COVID-19 tests the week prior to Thursday, Nov. 19, according to data from the state coronavirus dashboard. Of those tests, 81 returned positive, a rate of 5.5%.

Pacific County

From April through October, the county reported 121 cases. In a two-week surge from Nov. 1 to Nov. 17, it more than doubled to 246. The most current total is 340, according to an update Saturday from Scott McDougall, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.

There are currently 141 active cases being monitored by public health nurses, 20 of which are confirmed and 121 are probable.

Because of the surge in cases, COVID testing resources have become extremely limited in Pacific County, McDougall’s update said. He was asking that people access local testing resources only if they are symptomatic or have been identified as a close contact of a positive case. The cooperation will help conserve testing resources, he said.

Some schools were running face to face classes, with another Pacific County district about to begin its own in person schedule, but last week Pacific County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager wrote schools calling for a return to distance learning.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce a return to distance learning for all Willapa Valley students beginning on Monday, Nov 23,” said Willapa Valley School District Superintendent Nancy Morris. “The quick and severe spike in Pacific County COVID cases has caused (Dr. Krager) to call for distance learning for all students in local schools for the time being.

“… We are all deeply disappointed by this new development, but we are confident that our students and staff and parents can and will meet the challenge (again) head on. We have learned lessons from our remote start this fall, and this session of remote learning will be all the better because of that. This return to distance learning does not have an end date set yet; and we will return to in-person instruction as soon as we can. However, it will likely be in place for several weeks, and with the holidays approaching, it may well carry through to the Christmas holiday break.”

Until now, the county didn’t count positive “fast-track” tests as cases until they were confirmed, but per Krager’s direction, it will now count those cases — previously categorized as “probable” cases — as positive. McDougall noted that false-positive results on those cases is rare.

As of Saturday, the county had 141 active cases. As of midweek, four people were hospitalized.

The new cases bring Pacific County to an average case rate of 859 per 100,000 population over the past 14 days.

“We do not report these numbers to cause alarm, but rather to increase awareness of the surge and to remind people to take recommended safety precautions,” McDougall said.