It’s time for another installment of of our special series COVID-19 Update, bringing you the latest developments on the novel coronavirus outbreak that public health authorities here and across the country are working to mitigate.
Governor Inslee extended the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order through May 31st, but also unveiled a four-phase plan for a gradual opening of the state.PhasedReopeningChart
This plan will start Phase I, beginning today, and there are expected to be a minimum of three weeks between each phase, though what will ultimately determine whether the state will advance to the next phase are five metrics.
These are COVID-19 disease activity; testing capacity and availability; case and contact investigations; risk to vulnerable populations, and health care system readiness. For example, if the Federal government fails to provide the half million test swabs and related materials for testing on a regular basis to Washington state, for example, there will be a delay in moving forward to Phase II.
Governor Inslee also reminded viewers that municipalities and counties can still apply stricter measures than those the state has in place through the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” plan throughout this process, to meet the local situation at hand.
In conjunction with this four-phase plan is the COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard, to provide a broad overview of where the state stands per the fine metrics and explain in greater detail what each metric means.
As in Oregon, approximately 1,500 personnel will be hired by mid-May to maintain daily one-on-one contact with those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and ensuring they don’t spread the virus further.
Ten counties will be considered, as they make up less than 3% of the population of the state, if they maintain their extremely low number of cases of the virus and have enough hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand, to be allowed a variance to move early to Phase 2.
These counties are Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania and Wahkiakum. If this move is successful, other counties will be able to request consideration to join this group.
Governor Kate Brown has extended the present State of Emergency order within Oregon through July 6th, but may allow specific counties that have zero cases of Covid-19 to gradually reopen starting May 15th.
She has also announced a new program, “Be the Key,” with 100,000 randomly selected volunteers, focused on vulnerable populations, to create a better idea of where COVID-19 exists and how it affects their communities.
Those who agree to participate would be tracked for up to one year.
The Oregon Health Authority, in conjunction with “Be the Key,” also announced a series of measures to further contain the spread of COVID-19. These are built around two strategies – one for testing and contact tracing, and one for containment and isolation of those found to have the virus.
The first step is statewide active surveillance – that’s maintaining daily one-on-one contact with those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and ensuring they don’t spread the virus further. Around six hundred volunteers will be hired for this purpose, especially for those with the cultural and linguistic competence necessary to effectively work with at-risk groups.
The first step is expanding testing to identify those with, and to then stop the spread of the virus. The statewide goal is thirty tests per week per 10,000 Oregonians, and to ensure anyone with symptoms is tested within forty-eight to seventy-two hours, though more specific goals exist for each of the nine regions into which the state will conduct testing.
The second step is to identify and investigate as part of a program of “broad contact tracing;” to track all those who may have been in contact with the person found to have tested positive for COVID-19. The third step is to isolate those who test positive for the disease and quarantine those exposed. The fourth step is to identify and reduce the potential spread of the virus with specific at-risk groups.
Washington state has had 16,136 cases and 846 attributable deaths.
216,320 people have been tested.
Oregon has had 2,759 cases and 109 attributable deaths.
63,443 people have been tested.
Idaho has had 2,106 cases and 64 attributable deaths.
30,146 people have been tested.
British Columbia has had 2,224 cases and 117 attributable deaths.
96,517 people have been tested.