PORT ANGELES — The Jefferson County Health Board’s monthly meeting Thursday discussed the latest news on COVID-19, air quality, gun violence as a public health issue, and recognizing individuals who have contributed to improving community health.
Dr. Allison Berry, medical officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said there were no new deaths from COVID-19, although Jefferson County remains in the high-risk category.
As of Thursday, there have been 251 active cases since the start of the pandemic, for a total of 4,509 cases. There were no hospitalizations for COVID-19, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 132.
“We are still seeing incredibly high rates of transmission in our community and across the state,” Berry said. “But despite our strong numbers, we haven’t seen the surge in hospitalizations and deaths that has been seen in much of the country with this latest wave. The main driving force behind this is our vaccination rate.”
According to the Jefferson County COVID-19 Dashboard, 78 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. It ranks fourth in Washington State for vaccination rates, behind San Juan (92%), King (90%), and Island (87%) counties.
In light of the recent mass shootings in the United States, Berry introduced a public health approach to gun violence prevention that used evidence-based prevention strategies to support policy changes that have proven effective in reducing homicide and suicide, she said. .
These include licensing of firearms buyers, high-capacity magazine bans, and extreme risk protection orders (also known as “red flag laws”).
Safe storage campaigns promoting gun lock boxes and the use of trigger locks reduce the risk of suicide and inadvertent use of guns by children, Berry said.
Jeff Johnston, the new CEO of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, and his team provided an overview of their air quality monitoring work.
Jefferson is one of six counties under the jurisdiction of the ORCAA (the others being Clallam, Grays Harbor, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston), which is responsible for enforcing federal, state, and local air pollution standards.
Jefferson County Public Health has honored 10 individuals and organizations with the Public Health Hero Awards, which recognize members of the community who have made a significant contribution to the health of Jefferson County.
The Health Board has requested community nominations for the annual award, which was not awarded in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, and a subcommittee has reviewed the applications.
Certificates signed by Berry and Director of Public Health Apple Martin were awarded to: Christy Boyd, art teacher at Blue Heron High School, for using the arts to support student mental health and for providing equity training to school district staff;
David Codier, RN, for facilitating the operation of Jefferson Healthcare clinics and the Department of Public Health from winter 2021 to present;
Paramedics and EMTs of the East Jefferson Fire and Rescue Service for providing residents with reliable and responsive emergency services throughout the pandemic;
Food Bank Farm and Gardens (FoodBank Growers) for providing fresh organic produce to four local food banks;
Sarah Grossman, Chimakum School District Physical Therapist, for creating JUMP! (Jefferson Universal Movement Playground) for children with special needs;
Public radio station KPTZ 91.9 FM for its work during the pandemic by providing reliable information, interviewing public health experts and hosting public forums with Berry;
Grace Love for founding Nadine’s House, a non-profit organization that provides artists with services, resources and support;
Lisa McKenzie, former public health nurse, for leading the infectious disease team during COVID-19 and training the new public health nurse team;
Jim Moffitt, who formed the COVID-19 Task Force under the Health and Welfare Committee of the Port Ludlow Village Council, which formed alliances with county agencies to raise community awareness of the pandemic;
Logan Stegner, a physical education teacher and assistant coach at Port Townsend High School, who overhauled the physical education curriculum to focus on students’ physical and mental health and expanded activities to attract a greater diversity of students.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be contacted at [email protected]