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Here’s what we know so far regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for Clallam and Jefferson counties and around the world.
For more local coronavirus stories, click here.
The count of cases and deaths is a moving target, with jurisdictions reporting sometimes-contradictory numbers. Ours might not match what other media are reporting.
• As of 11:59 p.m. June 16, Washington state has 410,195 confirmed cases (meaning the person has the virus) and 5,810 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
• 440 cases in Jefferson County. 4 deaths.
• 1,418 cases in Clallam County. 12 deaths.
• 8,659 cases in Kitsap County. 113 deaths.
For other county numbers, visit www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.
Thursday, June 17
• The United States is devoting $3.2 billion to speed development of antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses that could turn into pandemics.
The new program will invest in “accelerating things that are already in progress” for COVID-19 but also would work to come up with treatments for other viruses, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. He announced the investment Thursday at a White House briefing.
“There are few treatments that exist for many of the viruses that have pandemic potential,” he said, including Ebola, dengue, West Nile and Middle East respiratory syndrome.
• With more than 600,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 and questions still raging about the origin of the virus and the government’s response, a push is underway on Capitol Hill and beyond for a full-blown investigation of the crisis by a national commission like the one that looked into 9/11.
It is unclear whether such a probe will ever happen, though a privately sponsored team of public health experts is already laying the groundwork for one.
• The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan ordered a near-complete lockdown Thursday because of a massive spike in coronavirus cases among employees.
Already on uncertain footing due to the imminent withdrawal of American forces from the country, the embassy in Kabul ordered remaining staffers into virtual isolation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed at least one person, sent 114 into quarantine and forced several people to be medically evacuated.
Wednesday, June 16
• As cases tumble and states reopen, the potential final stage in the U.S. campaign to vanquish COVID-19 is turning into a slog, with a worrisome variant gaining a bigger foothold and lotteries and other prizes failing to persuade some Americans to get vaccinated.
“The last half, the last mile, the last quarter-mile always requires more effort,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.
While two of the states slammed hardest by the disaster, California and New York, celebrated their reopenings this week with fireworks and a multimillion-dollar drawing, hospitalizations in parts of Missouri are surging and cases are rising sharply in Texas, illustrating the challenges the country faces this summer.
• Teresa Marez spent 14 years building a strong clientele base as a hair stylist in San Antonio. When her son, who is autistic, had to switch to virtual learning because of the pandemic, she quit her job to help him.
It’s been 10 months, and the clients are all gone.
Marez is one of many Latinas who have been out of work since last year. Latinas have left the workforce at rates higher than any other demographic and have had some of the highest unemployment rates throughout the pandemic, according to a report by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, a Latino-focused think tank, provided to The Associated Press before its release on Wednesday.
Tuesday, June 15
• Cue the fireworks.
President Joe Biden wants to imbue Independence Day with new meaning this year by encouraging nationwide celebrations to mark the country’s effective return to normalcy after 16 months of coronavirus pandemic disruption.
Even as the U.S. is set to cross the grim milestone of 600,000 deaths from the virus on Tuesday, the White House is expressing growing certainty that July Fourth will serve as a breakthrough moment in the nation’s recovery. That’s even though the U.S. is not expected to quite reach its goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated by the holiday.
• A new analysis of blood samples from 24,000 Americans taken early last year is the latest and largest study to suggest that the new coronavirus popped up in the U.S. in December 2019 — weeks before cases were first recognized by health officials.
The analysis is not definitive, and some experts remain skeptical, but federal health officials are increasingly accepting a timeline in which small numbers of COVID-19 infections may have occurred in the U.S. before the world ever became aware of a dangerous new virus erupting in China.
“The studies are pretty consistent,” said Natalie Thornburg of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• In a huge ballroom in a Buenos Aires basement, the tables are stacked. On the orchestra stage, the piano lid is closed near unplugged speakers and billboard images of tango celebrities.
The empty, dark dance floor at the Viruta Tango Club is a symbol of the pandemic-induced crisis facing dancers and musicians of an art form known for close physical contact and exchanging partners.
Like other venues of its kind, the Viruta club has been closed since March 8, 2020, around the time that Argentine authorities decreed a strict quarantine in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19. The club used to host hundreds of tango dancers between Wednesday and Sunday.
• The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce has updated its listing of restaurants that are currently open under COVID-19 restrictions:
• Via The Associated Press: What you need to know today about the virus outbreak.
Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center. Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help.
You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are.
You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students and more.
Do you need support due to stress from COVID-19? Call Washington Listens, a line that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19.
People who call Washington Listens will speak to a support specialist and receive information and connection to community resources in their area.
The program is anonymous and no identifying information is maintained. People who staff Washington Listens will receive basic training needed to provide support to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To reach Washington Listens, call 1-833-681-0211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Read the Washington Listens fact sheet.
A smartphone app has been launched statewide. It can alert users if they come into close contact with someone who has been exposed to COVID-19.
Gov. Jay Inslee, along with the state Department of Health (DOH), announced the launch of WA Notify on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The app is an anonymous exposure notification tool meant to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
By adding WA Notify to their smartphones, state residents can be alerted if they spent time near another WA Notify user who later records that they have tested positive for COVID-19.
To turn on WA Notify on an iPhone:
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down to Exposure Notifications
- Click “Turn On Exposure Notifications”
- Select United States
- Select Washington
If you haven’t received a notification on your iPhone, you may need to check your device’s notification settings and make sure you’re on the latest iPhone firmware. You may also need to check to see whether Government Alerts are enabled on your device.
DOH also lists installation instructions for the Android app, which users must download to opt into the service. The department asks you to search for the “Washington Exposure Notifications app” — but you should instead search for “WA Notify”:
- Go to the Google Play Store
- Download the WA Notify app
Department of Health launches Care Connect Washington. The new service is meant to help people who have to isolate or quarantine at home after testing positive for COVID-19 or being exposed.
Care Connect Washington, working with local health jurisdictions and their partners, will provide critical resources to people who need support when they’re staying home. Care coordinators will connect people to community-based services such as medication delivery, health care, help applying for unemployment, local housing agencies, food banks, childcare providers and more.
“People who receive help meeting essential social and health needs are more likely to complete home isolation and quarantine successfully,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of Health for COVID-19 response. “Care Connect Washington will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help families get through what could be a hard time by making sure they have what they need.”
Care Connect Washington will be available to people who qualify for it via referral. Referrals come from a variety of sources, including case investigators or contact tracers, who ask about each person’s ability to successfully home isolate or quarantine. Help will be made available based on need.
COVID-19 information & best practices
What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, known as SARS-CoV-2, is the virus strain identified in January that causes COVID-19, coronavirus disease, and is spreading from person to person.
Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
There are some key differences between flu and COVID-19. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.
Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever.
While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19 there are many important benefits, such as:
1. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
2. Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.
COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks.
- Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
- People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.
Less common ways COVID-19 can spread
- Under certain circumstances (for example, when people are in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation), COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.
- COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces.
What to do if you’re sick
• If you suspect you have COVID-19, isolate at home during illness. Restrict activities outside of the home except for getting medical care. Call ahead unless you are in crisis.
• Call 360-417-2430, a hotline that provides local information on the infection.
For more information on COVID-19 testing, click here.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
As a reminder, according to the CDC, here are recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
For more information on using cloth face coverings and how to make your own, click here.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Once home from work, school, running errands, etc., immediately wash your hands.
• Consider purchasing the following supplies: extra fluids and hydrating drinks (Gatorade and Pedialyte); food for when you’re sick (soups, broths, crackers, honey, nonperishable items); pain and fever medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen); cough drops and cough medications; prescription medications; tissues; household cleaners (bleach, alcohol, soap, disinfecting wipes).
• You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.