(PRESS RELEASE/NE Tri County Health District)
The fall and early winter surge of COVID-19 cases is being felt throughout Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties. As of December 1, Northeast Tri County Health District (NETCHD) has confirmed 1,079 cumulative cases since the pandemic began. Over half of these cases occurred in the month of November alone. Within the combined population (66,160) of the three counties, 1 person in 61 has tested positive on average. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data that
suggest there are considerably more people who have contracted the virus than have tested positive, it’s likely that 1 person in 8 has contracted the virus in our area population.
As of December 1, active cases for the last two weeks per county are:
Ferry: 41 (527 cases /100,000/prior 2 weeks)
Pend Oreille: 58 (434 cases /100,000/prior 2 weeks)
Stevens: 261 (580 cases /100,000/prior 2 weeks)
These trends have been steadily rising throughout November and are expected to continue to increase through the holiday season. Increased COVID-19 transmission locally mirrors what is occurring throughout the state as Washington continues to set records for reported cases. A Federal Report issued for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, dated November 29, 2020, states that as a nation “we are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital
capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall.” The report further states that
“ if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health; you should have groceries and medications delivered. If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household.
Most likely, you will not have symptoms; however, you are dangerous to others and you must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested immediately. If you are over 65 or have significant medical conditions and you gathered outside of your immediate household, you are at a significant risk for serious COVID infection; if you develop any symptoms, you must be tested immediately as the majority of therapeutics work best early in infection.”
As case counts have increased throughout eastern Washington, so too have hospitalizations. Currently, there are 218 COVID-19 related hospitalizations regionally (includes Ferry, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Spokane, and Kootenai County Hospitals) and this number continues to steadily climb. Because of the increase in numbers and staffing shortages stressing area medical systems, some patients are being transferred to hospitals outside of the region.
Additionally, we have unfortunately received notification of four COVID-19 related deaths since November 20th. Three of these deaths were Stevens County residents and one was a Pend Oreille County resident.
Keep yourself healthy and help those in your community do the same by:
• Avoiding any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to immediate risk to your health if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions; rather you should have groceries and medications delivered.
• Wearing a mask or face covering when indoors at public places where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet. This helps protect you from unknowingly infecting others with COVID-19.
• Staying home when you are sick. Staying home when you are ill prevents the spread of infection to others.
• Staying home and away from others if you are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test or have been notified that you are a close contact of a positive case (for 14 days since last exposure). It is also critical that if you tested positive for COVID you must isolate for a full 10 days after symptom onset or positive test result before returning to normal activities on the 11th day, and fever must be absent for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications and other symptoms are showing improvement.
• Using good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene in all community settings, including homes, childcare facilities, schools, workplaces, and other places where people gather. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
• Washing your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you can’t wash.
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth: Germs often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
• Practicing other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
• Following the guidance required by the Safe Start plan to reopen Washington.