It’s been a long year. Yes, a year. On January 21, Washington State reached the one-year mark since the first case of COVID-19 was reported. Since then, we’ve faced closures of schools, playgrounds and have gone mostly virtual.
It might be safe to assume that by this point, we’re getting pretty good at celebrating holidays virtually or safely distanced. Every day, we’re getting closer to being able to celebrate our favorite holidays and events with the people we love but until then, it’s just as important to keep wearing masks, washing your hands, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance in public spaces and avoiding large gatherings where safe distancing is difficult.
When the pandemic hit, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) had to quickly reassign and hire people just for the response. One of those people hired for the response was Carma Fuhlendorf. She was hired to work as an administrative assistant in Disease Prevention and Response which, as the name tells you, is right in the middle of the fight against the pandemic in our region. Carma says that as a new team member she had no clue about the stress level, dedication, commitment, and love for the community her coworkers would have. Carma references the 60+ hour weeks and often seven-day work weeks a lot of the team has put in throughout the pandemic.
In late December, nearly a year after the pandemic began, it was announced with great excitement that vaccinations against COVID-19 would begin in Washington state.
New beginnings always seem more possible during springtime. Longer days, warmer temperatures and green shoots beginning to emerge from the cold ground after a long winter remind us that nothing lasts forever. April is national Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention month.
By now, you’ve probably heard the news that the third COVID-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, was authorized for distribution but was temporarily paused before being authorized once again for use in the United States. Even though another vaccine in our toolbelt is great news and gives us another tool to manage the spread of COVID-19, there are a lot of questions about the vaccine that we’re excited to answer.
Parenting is full of tough choices that are neither right nor wrong, but somewhere in the middle. The choice you make comes down to your family’s situation and the amount of risk and benefit there is. Have you noticed during the pandemic these choices have been harder, and critics on both sides have been louder?
Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play. While a doctor treats people who are sick, those working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place by promoting wellness and encouraging healthy behaviors.
Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial kick-off to summer, which is one of the best times of year to experience everything the Spokane area has to offer. Even though this is the second time our community we will be experiencing the holiday in a pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy a safe three-day weekend.
Most people would agree that throughout the pandemic they missed out on an event they typically enjoy. Whether the loss was celebrating a major life event, attending an annual festival, or just part of a routine, it was one more thing that added stress to people in our community. That’s why in February of this year, SRHD began a group that would shift the focus from what we can’t do to what we can do in a safe way.
Getting outside can help reduce the spread of COVID-19, gives more options to get moving, and can be a great mood booster. With the right tools you can have a safe and healthy summer. Make sure you keep these must-haves with you for outdoor fun this summer.
After 15 months, Washington has reopened. Fifteen months. We’ve made a lot of changes, but what exactly does “reopening” mean? When the governor or state officials talk about reopening, they’re referring to businesses. The main difference as of June 30, is that businesses and events are open at 100% capacity. The exception is for indoor venues with a capacity of 10,000 or more; they are still limited to 75% capacity. Most businesses — including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, grocery stores and offices — get to operate like they did before the pandemic, as long as they’re following the workplace safety requirements set by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
Our kids are struggling. Their mental and emotional health has worsened over the last year and it’s going to take our entire community to help them through this time. Isolation, disrupted routines, and loss have increased negative emotions and the need for resources. If you’re a parent or a child who is struggling right now, there is help.
It is no secret that healthcare workers all over the world have been significantly affected by the SARS CoV-2 pandemic, in both caring for COVID-19 patients and being patients themselves. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), healthcare workers account for 1 in 7 reported COVID-19 cases globally.
COVID-19 cases and outbreaks continue to pop up in childcare, daycare, and preschool facilities. As a friendly reminder, all COVID-19 cases within Spokane County should be reported to Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) as soon as possible and all COVID-19 positives and close contacts should be advised to isolate or quarantine at home as appropriate.
COVID-19 disrupted both in-person learning and routine well-child visits for many children during the last year. We all want our kids to be back in school safely, and that means getting caught up on vaccines that were missed during the past year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) public sector vaccine ordering data show a 14% drop in childhood vaccines for the period of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the 2018-2019 school year, and measles vaccine is down by more than 20%. Catch-up vaccination will require efforts from healthcare systems, healthcare providers, schools, state and local governments, and families.
Many individuals in Spokane County are still unsure of how to get vaccinated—this includes both adults and adolescents age 12 and older If your practice is not currently offering COVID-19 vaccine, please share the sites below with individuals inquiring about vaccination.
Return-to-school requirements for children being evaluated for COVID-19 infection or exposure to someone with COVID-19 may differ from your utilization of testing in your practice. Below are some clinical pearls that will help your pediatric patients and their families better navigate the return-to-school process after an illness or exposure.
Across Washington state and the country, there have been outbreaks of COVID-19 in many settings. Some of the most difficult outbreaks to control and manage are those in congregate settings. Washington state and Spokane County have had their share of these outbreaks to manage. In Spokane County, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) epidemiology team has managed outbreaks in homeless shelters, family shelters, drug treatment centers, behavioral health facilities, county correctional facilities, supported living facilities and group homes.
SARS-CoV-2, like other coronaviruses, mutates and produces variant strains as it spreads to susceptible hosts. The longer we go with suboptimal vaccination coverage and insufficient herd immunity in Washington state, the United States, and the rest of the world, the more opportunity for variants of concern to spread, and potentially, for different variants of concern to emerge.
Ok, Spokane, we have some fun events coming up. Yes, we missed out on a lot of them last year, so let’s do all we can to make sure they continue. We also want to make sure that anybody who wants to get out and enjoy the fun can. It’s not a community event without the community.
A lot of information and data flows in and out of the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD). This information both reflects and helps us shape our community. It’s important to have a dedicated team who can help others understand what information is important, how to evaluate it, and how it can be used to guide public health. One member of that team is Sara Rodgers.
Navigating the pandemic has been a lot like building a plane while you fly it. Leaders and officials had to make decisions and put together plans as the world was learning about how this new virus even works. We had to learn from our mistakes quickly and move on to the next challenge. We’ve come a long way since the beginning, however, there is still new information every day that changes the way we understand and respond to the pandemic.