Public health pleads for unity on virus fight


Last updated 8/5/2020 at 9:33pm

NBC's Today show

Okanogan Public Health Director Lauri Jones speaking on "Today"

A frustrated Okanogan Public Health official Tuesday pleaded with county commissioners to present a unified message to the public on fighting the COVID-19 epidemic in the county, which killed three more people last weekend.

"My heart breaks for the people who have unnecessarily lost their lives," OPH's Lauri Jones told county commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

She said those who had died included three more last weekend, including one "as fit as a fiddle."

The county has one of the highest incidence rates in the state by far. In the last two weeks, 297 cases have been reported. That translates to a rate per 100,000 people of 695.1. The stated goal for moving forward toward opening up more is fewer than 25 cases.

The case count includes 11 in Nespelem and two in Coulee Dam, but Brewster is hardest hit with 479.

Jones said if the all three commissioners and the sheriff would tell people how much their help is needed in fighting the epidemic, it could make a big difference. She urged a "moon shot" approach of all using extreme caution until Labor Day.

Commissioner Chris Branch thought that date should be pushed back to November to keep politics out of it.

Jones was pointed in urging the chairman, Commissioner Jim DeTro to join the effort. He started to push back against a call for a face covering order, but Jones said she didn't want that, just a call for the people's help.

"Make a stand uniting the county," Jones said. "The loudest voices are sitting right there."

Jones, who said the OPH is understaffed and working seven days a week, lamented a Covid breakout at an overnight camp with more than 100 campers, all of whom they must try to trace and notify.

Commissioners were planning a meeting over Zoom today at 2:30 p.m. to draft a statement to support the fight against COVID-19.

The public can join online at this Zoom Link:  with Meeting ID: 840 2134 0912 or dial by phone: +1 253 215 8782 OR +1 346 248 7799 OR+1 669 900 9128 Meeting ID: 840 2134 0912

Notification of Potential COVID-19 Exposure

OKANOGAN – If you attended a 2-day camping event on Friday July 24th and Saturday July 25th in the area North of the town of Methow on private property, you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are asked to contact Okanogan County Public Health at 509-422-7140. 

Public Health has been working hard to notify all attendees of potential exposure, but due to the size of the event (over 100 people in attendance), Public Health may not have been able to contact everyone who attended. If you know someone who attended this event, please share this information with them and ask them to contact Public Health.

Since group gatherings increase the risk for COVID-19 transmission, we ask that you refrain from engaging in group gatherings until there is reduced COVID-19 activity in Okanogan County.

Protect Yourselves and Others from COVID-19

·  Wear a facial covering

·  Avoid gatherings with people outside your household

· Physical Distancing of 6 feet when around others

·  Wash your hands frequently


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