A recap of the islands’ most recent COVID cases

  • Tue Aug 4th, 2020 11:22am
  • News

Submitted by San Juan County

San Juan County is shifting to a weekly roll-up of new cases. This is the first of those reports. Going forward, the report will be issued on Thursday of each week. In addition to providing for additional time to review results of case investigations and draft releases, this approach also allows for a bit more info to be shared since details aren’t tied to a single case, unless there has only been one case in a given week. If there are cases that pose an immediate threat to wider public safety or involve particularly notable locations or facilities, info will be released as soon as received and confirmed.

Since the last case update on July 23, there have been four new cases reported in the islands. One each on Orcas and Lopez Islands and two on San Juan Island. These cases bring the total San Juan County case count to 30.

Of the cases, two of them are tied to travel to the islands by family or friends of San Juan County residents. One case is tied to islanders traveling off-island and then returning home. The fourth case is an island resident is of an indeterminate cause at this time but may be related to family contacts. All five individuals were tested after experiencing COVID-like symptoms.

For all of the cases, patients are isolating, and close contacts have been identified and contacted. All close contacts who have been tested were found to be negative, though in one case testing is ongoing. Some close contacts who are asymptomatic and comfortably able to quarantine have chosen not to be tested.

Please note that tying a case to a likely source of transmission is a nuanced process. It is only after detailed interviewing of patient and close contacts, reviewing close contact test results, and tracing and confirming travel and social histories that cause of transmission can be estimated. In some cases, it is abundantly clear (like close contact with an individual who tested positive) and in other cases, it is more subtle (someone with a recent travel history and all of their close contacts test negative).

Despite the complicated nature of case investigations, a few clear trends emerge from these and other recent cases:

• While short term visitors to the islands are certainly a potential risk, the more concerning the avenue of transmission at this time is close social contact between island residents and friends and family, either in the islands or off.

• We’re all struggling with the limits imposed by this crisis, but continuing to restrict our social contacts to a small group of trusted friends and/or family is absolutely essential.

• If you have plans to travel or friends or family are coming to visit you, ensure that those traveling carefully monitor for any symptoms before leaving and if you/they do experience COVID-like symptoms, cancel plans and contact a medical provider about being tested immediately.

• When you or your family members do socialize, do so outdoors and wear masks if in close proximity.

• When everyone is masked up, the risk of transmission through casual contact is relatively low. It is unmasked prolonged indoor contact that is our greatest risk.

Thanks, everyone for your ongoing patience and resilience. It is a cliché, but when we said this would be a marathon and not a sprint, perhaps we did not realize that it was actually a 100-mile ultramarathon as opposed to a measly 26.2 miles. Hang in there, unity is strength.