Pacific County reports 93 more cases since Wednesday

Pacific County health and emergency officials reported Saturday that the county has 93 more Covid-19 cases since its last report on Wednesday.

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. Now the 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.

“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. “We strongly encourage the public to limit social gatherings, maintain social distancing of at least six feet between, and practice personal protective measures to include: correctly wearing a mask/face covering in public, washing hands often with soapy water for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face. These safety measures, especially when taken together, can significantly reduce the risk of becoming infected with COVID or for those with COVID, reduce the risk of transmitting it to others.”

Some schools had begun returning to face-to-face classes, but this 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.”

In the latest batch of 55 cases, seven were children 10 years old or younger, all of them linked to cases in their household. Eleven were between the ages of 11 and 20. Eight of those were related to cases in their own households and three were from workplace transmission.

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.

McDougall said that means the state Department of Health case numbers will lag behind what is reported by the county.

As of Saturday, the county 141 active cases. As of midweek, four people were hospitalized.An update was not available Saturday night.

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

County health officials strongly encouraged people to limit social gatherings.

“It’s completely reasonable — and safer — to decide to celebrate Thanksgiving with just your immediate household this year,” McDougall said. “Making that decision is hard, and it can be even harder to tell your family what you have decided, but during COVID-19, saying ‘no’ to some events can be an act of caring, especially if our loved ones are at high risk of getting very sick.”

For up to date information and guidance, please monitor the Pacific County Health and Human Services Facebook page or visit: www.pacificcountycovid19.com.