Grays Harbor bumping up efforts to fight COVID

Local public health workers are doing their best to keep up with the spike in COVID-19 cases and reaching out to vaccinate those who are homebound or otherwise can’t get to a provider.

There were 426 new cases reported the week of Sept. 16-22. It’s on par with the 429 reported the previous week. There were also six new deaths reported in the last week, driving the death total for the pandemic to 103. There were 15 hospitalizations, down from 22 the previous week.

“Increases in cases impact our team at all levels, from epidemiologists attempting to mitigate spread to our Resource Center staff working to answer the community’s growing questions,” said Nikki Gwin, Grays Harbor County Public Health community health worker. “These days we’re bumping up efforts across the board and rise to the occasion.”

One way is the expansion of the Call Center in the last week.

“We have expanded our staff with more operators trained to triage vaccine-related calls and the specifics that can come with them,” said Gwin. “This was made necessary by an enormous increase in call volume we’ve seen accompanying the fifth wave, as well as news on vaccines. They continue to field more than 2,000 calls per week.”

Public health also recently added weekend appointments to its in-house COVID-19 vaccine clinics and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available at the Saturday clinics for the time being.

“We’ve heard the community’s requests for this brand, but for some time supply has been extremely limited in our state,” she said. “With this new shipment, we will make it available on Saturdays until our supply is exhausted.”

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“Speaking of vaccinations, one of the efforts we’re most proud of is our commitment to providing in-home vaccination visits for those who need them,” said Gwin. “We continue to dedicate time and effort to this to serve the community in all ways we can muster.”

Anyone who is unable to get to a vaccine provider near them or has difficulty accessing services outside their home and would like to receive their COVID-19 vaccine should call public health at 360-964-1850.

“We can provide assistance with scheduling an appointment, transportation to a clinic, or arrange for a home visit to get them or a loved one vaccinated,” said Gwin.

Public Health Director Mike McNickle said vaccinations are key to stemming the pandemic’s fifth wave.

“Vaccination is still the best defense against the Delta virus,” he said. “Please consider getting vaccinated for your own health, the health of your family and friends, and the health of our community.”

Testing resources are being stretched as well. Recently, public health and its partners were able to perform hundreds of tests at local schools. There are two free testing kiosks in the county, one in Aberdeen at the Pearsall Building and one in Elma near Summit Pacific Medical Center.

Gwin reminds anyone looking to get tested that because of demand, appointments are required. They’re easy to schedule at