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Board of Health hears COVID-19 fight update

Despite the long hours and hard work of Pierce County’s Public Health Department, like the rest of the state and most of the country, Pierce County’s COVID-19 situation has gradually worsened. As of November 14th, the county’s online case tracker showed 339 new confirmed cases in the previous seven days, with another 58 probably cases added to the totals.

21 people have died prematurely.

The Harvard Path to Zero metric shows that we are at a tipping point, represented by at least 25 cases or more per 100,000 people. Sadly, we’re well past that point. The Path to Zero recommends that stay at home orders are necessary with this number of cases.

Since school started in September, 1,319 close contacts have been identified and excluded from schools in the county. Students that tested positive registered an average of 13 close contacts per case.

For the previous thirty days, community acquisition has been the highest source of infection in Pierce County, followed by close contact of positive case.

If you haven’t been before, now is the time to be vigilant in fighting the virus.

The Pierce County Board of Health met online last Wednesday, November 18th by video chat.

Public Health Director Az Snyder reported that the free testing, graciously hosted by Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services and run by the Wisconsin Army National Guard, has gone so well that it had to be shut down early that week because they used all 300 tests so quickly. More tests were ordered for this week’s testing day, held every Monday through December 7th.

Snyder shared that funds from the state went towards funding the weekly testing site. A small amount of test kits was also purchased using the same money to provide testing options for kids in schools that do not have insurance coverage.

“We received a small amount of funding in the amount of $30,000 from the State Health Department to update our Pandemic Preparedness Plan to reflect COVID-19 activities.

Previously, our pandemic plans really focused around pandemic influenza, and we needed to do some updating, particularly around quarantine/isolation,” Snyder reported, informing the Board that they hired a former Polk County Public Health Officer to consult and update the plan.

Snyder stated that she does not believe another County Health Department in the Northwest Region went to every school in their county to provide vaccinations this year.

“I do just want to say, I don’t think there’s another Health Department in the Western Region that went to every single school district this year to do vaccines, and Pierce County did, despite all of what’s going on,” Snyder stated, saying that the nurses felt it was very important this year. “They (Public Health Nurses) worked an insane amount of hours this year in order to do all the influenza clinics by the day and, frankly, disease investigation by night.”

It was reported that the number of vaccinations was lower than in previous years, partially due to all of the virtual learners, but Snyder expressed hope that many kids had already gotten an influenza vaccination from their private care provider.

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