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.
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.
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.
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.
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.