*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
November 13, 2020
Recent cases traced to family gatherings and travel
OKANOGAN – Okanogan County Public Health (OCPH) is asking residents to exercise caution around the upcoming holiday. There are concerning increases in COVID-19 cases in neighboring counties and states, and travel over the holiday could negatively impact case rates in Okanogan County.
On November 10, state public health experts reported that Washington state is experiencing extremely rapid growth of COVID-19 cases statewide and urged the public to limit in-person gatherings as much as possible, continue to wear a face covering around those whom you don’t live with, make plans for alternate ways to celebrate the holidays, and to refrain from traveling.
Recent cases in Okanogan County are primarily being traced to family gatherings and travel.
OCPH urges residents to refrain from traveling or attending gatherings with people outside of your household for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
Projections suggest that Okanogan County will see a surge of COVID-19 cases as we move into the fall and holiday months. OCPH is urging the community to take precautions in order to:
Keep our schools open. Okanogan County health officials and superintendents are monitoring the situation closely. Currently, the incidence rate is within the range to maintain in-person instruction and there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks in county schools. But, if cases continue to rise in the community, schools may have to close again. It’s important to remember that ‘schools don’t keep schools open, communities do’.
Reduce the burden on our nursing homes and long-term care facilities. When transmission increases and case numbers are high in the community, these facilities must regularly test staff and residents more frequently. The increased demands of testing on staff and elderly patients is stressful and expensive.
Keep our hospitals from becoming overburdened. Our rural healthcare resources are limited. When at capacity, patients must be transferred to other counties such as Yakima or Spokane, which are also experiencing increases in COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions.
Keep our businesses open and viable. We had a lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic and we have the ability to prevent that recurring with our individual and community choices.
OCPH would like to thank county residents for staying strong even as we experience fatigue. It is more important than ever to maintain COVID-19 precautions. Keeping case numbers low is key to our county’s economic recovery. Please check the OCPH COVID-19 website for updated case information and data charts: https://okanogancountycovid19.org/covid-19-data/ and https://spanish.okanogancountycovid19.org/datos-de-covid-19/.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid gatherings, wear a facial covering, and keep 6 feet of distance when you are around people you don’t live with.
As the holidays approach, please celebrate in a COVID-19 safe way.