SOUTH BEND — An additional 26 confirmed cases of covid-19 were reported in Pacific County on Nov. 16, as case counts continue to soar locally.
These cases, announced by the Pacific County Health and Human Services Department on Monday night, cover a six-day span from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16. The county has now reported 191 coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic, a majority of which — 105 — have come since the beginning of October.
An additional 25 cases of the virus are also considered probable and awaiting further confirmation. If confirmed, Pacific County will surpass 200 confirmed cases of the virus this week. It took the county six months — from April 9 to October 10 — to go from 1 to 100 confirmed cases. It will likely take less than six weeks for the county to go from 101 to 200 cases.
Of the 26 newly confirmed cases reported by the health department:
• Four of the individuals who tested positive are currently hospitalized, while the other 22 are isolating at home.
• Two of the individuals are under the age of 10, three are between 11 and 20, two are between 21 and 30, six are between 31 and 40, four are between 41 and 50, three are between 51 and 60, four are between 61 and 70, one is between 71 and 80, and one is between 81 and 90.
• Thirteen are males and 13 are females.
• Ten of the cases are linked to household exposure, five are linked to a social gathering, four are linked to workplace exposure, four are currently unknown, two are linked to community exposure, and one is linked to out-of-county exposure.
Public health nurses in the county are currently monitoring 61 active cases, which includes the 25 probable cases. Case investigations and contact tracing are currently ongoing, the department said.
Pacific County Health and Human Services strongly encourages the public to limit non-essential travel, maintain social distancing of at least six feet between persons, 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. For up to date information and guidance, please monitor the Pacific County Health and Human Services Facebook page or visit www.pacificcountycovid19.com.
There were 131,532 confirmed cases and 2,548 covid deaths statewide as of 11:59 p.m. Nov. 15.
Naselle suspends in-person learning
Three Naselle-Grays River Valley School District staff members have tested positive for covid-19, leading the District to suspend in-person learning from Nov. 16 through Nov. 29. The first two positive tests came last week. On Monday came the third case, the only one that was of a teacher with a full-time class. That prompted the two-week closure of in-person classes. The district had been using hybrid online and classroom education this school year.
The district learned of the first positive test, of a support staff member, on Nov. 11, Superintendent Lisa Nelson said. It learned of the second positive the following day; this was of a “support role teacher, meaning [she] provides technology support for staff and classroom support, but does not have a full class of her own on a full-time regular basis,” Nelson explained.
The district announced the first two cases in a Friday morning Facebook post Nov. 13. The District noted that it was working with the Health Department on contact tracing, that both staff members were believed to have had limited contact with students, and that their cases were believed to be unrelated.
At the start of this school week, the district already suspended in-person school for Monday and Tuesday because contact tracing was not yet complete. Then, Monday morning, the third positive test hit, a teacher who had no major symptoms but was tested because of contact with one of the two who had previously tested positive.
For this school year, the district has divided each grade level into two groups, one attending in-person on Monday and Tuesday and the other on Thursday and Friday. Principal Stephen Doyle on Monday called 13 students identified as being potentially exposed. They were urged to quarantine.
OBSD updates quarantine protocols
In accordance with recent recommendations from Gov. Jay Inslee, the Ocean Beach School District sent a letter to parents asking them to take note of new protocols.
In the message, the district asks parents who have recently returned from traveling out of the area — or intend to travel anytime before Dec. 14 — to self-quarantine and keep their students home from school for 14 days upon their return. These measures, the letter says, will reduce the risk of OBSD having to close entire schools because of a coronavirus outbreak.
These new protocols are in alignment with recommendations made by Inslee last week, for those traveling to or leaving Washington state. It also comes a week after a Hilltop School class was forced to quarantine because a student tested positive for covid-19. The student was not symptomatic, the district said in a message to parents, but was tested because a family member had tested positive. The student had last been in class on Nov. 6.
“The health department has been using extreme caution in these cases and is having the whole class quarantine,” the district said in a letter. “By doing this, the risk of any other students or staff being affected is extremely low, and the chance of other class members becoming positive is low as well.”
—Aaron Mead contributed to this report