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LOCAL NEWS: A look at high COVID rates in Pacific County

LOCAL NEWS: A look at high COVID rates in Pacific County

Pacific County has one of the highest rates of covid infection in Washington and overall its rate is more than twice as high as that of Clatsop County. However new figures released late yesterday show infections have peaked, at least for now. KMUN’s Jacob Lewin reports:

Overall, Pacific County has had 457 reported covid infections with three quarters of the cases coming since November first. The two week rate of infection peaked—at least for now—on Thanksgiving butat a very high level—about twice the rate of Washington State as a whole, and it has been going down.

County Health Director Katie Lindstrom says about a third of the cases are related to fish processing, with the majority in Raymond and South Bend:

“Probably all of the canneries within the county…Pacific Seafood, South Bend Food Products, Goose Point Oyster Company, Coast Seafood, MaraCulture. Looks like we’ve got some at Taylor’s Shellfish, Rock Point Oysters.”

Lindstrom says all of the canneries have been following safety plans for the most part, although one inspection showed a company providing transport between facilities with no masks being used:

“A lot of the people who work in the canneries are also socializing and gathering together outside of work and so it’s very hard to tell if they got it at a party or the gathering outside of work or they actually got it from work. My guess is there’s some of each happening.”

There have also been lots of individual cases at lots of different workplaces:

“There’s been some cases with the county, there’s been cases in banks, in restaurants, a marijuana —-, schools so we’ve had quite a few cases in different schools. When people aren’t following the six foot distancing and mask wearing. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of transmissions.”

Lindstrom says the virus hit students and school staff but was probably not transmitted in schools.

Also there have been gatherings of friends and families without masks or distancing. Lindstrom is sure that when the guidelines are followed, the virus stops with the infected person. Three people have died from covid in Pacific County and 16 hospitalized, half in recent weeks.

For KMUN Radio, I’m Jacob Lewin.