Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group is Closely Monitoring County’s Readiness to Re-Open

Submitted by Grays Harbor County Health & Social Services

Governor Jay Inslee announced an extension of his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order until May 31, 2020.  Governor Inslee also shared details of his Plan to Re-open Washington.

The plan includes the opportunity for counties that have not had any new COVID-19 cases in the past 3 weeks to apply for a variance that would allow them to move to a less restrictive phase before the rest of the state.

At this time, Grays Harbor County is eligible to apply for a variance. However, before a variance can be approved by Washington State Secretary of Health, Grays Harbor County must submit a plan that demonstrates the readiness and capacity of our local health care and public safety systems in four key areas.

  1. Health care system readiness to provide care for, including critical care, for a large number of people in a short period of time.  This includes the availability of adequate beds, ventilators, and PPE.
  2. Enough supplies, PPE, and personnel to immediately test everyone with COVID-19 symptoms and those with high-risk exposures.
  3. Enough trained staff and volunteers to rapidly isolate people with COVID-19, support their needs while they are in isolation and trace and support quarantine in their close contacts.
  4. Enough personnel, PPE, and testing equipment to rapidly respond to outbreaks in congregate living situations such as long term care facilities and homeless shelters.

Grays Harbor County Public Health’s response to COVID-19 has been coordinated by an Incident Management Team (IMT) staffed by many local public health, public safety, health care, and emergency response personnel.  The Incident Management Team’s activities are directed by the Grays Harbor COVID-19  Policy Group composed of County law enforcement, Emergency Management, EMS, public health, and elected officials.

The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group will assess the County’s readiness to apply for a variance to the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.  Currently, there are several areas of concern that will need to be addressed:

  • Local health care facilities are currently unable to get enough PPE through regular or emergency supply chains to resume regular health care activities such as elective surgeries or expanded COVID-19 testing.
  • Grays Harbor County Emergency Management is currently unable to acquire adequate testing supplies in a predictable way.  The Grays Harbor County Health Officer is currently restricting testing to high priority groups to conserve test supplies until the supply chain opens up.
  • Grays Harbor County Public Health lacks an adequate number of trained staff to rapidly isolate and investigate large numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
  • The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group is aware that there are many local people who are fearful that people from more populous areas where COVID-19 is more prevalent will introduce infection into local communities, and the Policy Group is concerned about the effect that those fears and tensions may have on public safety.

“This continues to be an uncertain and stressful time for all of us. People’s lives have been disrupted. Many people are experiencing financial hardship and many are worried about their health and the health of the people they love,” said Karolyn Holden, Director of Grays Harbor County Public Health and member of the Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group. “The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group is eager to support our local communities in a safe return to public life. Although the case counts in Grays Harbor County remain fairly low and we have not had any cases in long-term care facilities, we know that we are at a critical point in our response and that we must make careful decisions about re-opening our community. ”

The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group will continue to closely monitor local capacity and readiness to respond to the increased transmission of COVID-19 that may occur if social distancing measures are relaxed.

Case updates

Grays Harbor County has 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  • March 2020: 2 cases
  • April 2020: 10 cases

No additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Grays Harbor County since April 12. Grays Harbor Public Health Incident Management Team (IMT) remains prepared to respond if any additional cases are identified.

Grays Harbor Public Health Incident Management Team and Grays Harbor Emergency Operations Center provide the most accurate, timely information possible. For any questions about COVID-19 and our response call (360) 964-1850, email covid19@co.graysharbor.wa.gov, or visit our website at http://www.healthyGH.org.  Like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/healthyghc.

 

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