Submitted by Thurston County
Letter to the Community: June 16, 2020
Many of you have asked the question about Thurston County moving to phase 3, and I want to let you all know I will be recommending that our county applies to move to phase 3. I made this decision because so many of us are impacted by the three months of staying home, staying healthy. COVID-19 is here to stay and we need to be able to function as safely as possible, knowing exposure to the disease is a possibility. As a public health practitioner, my job is to prevent disease transmission. If an exposure occurs, I need to respond, identify early, and contain the spread of the disease to avoid complications or deaths. I cannot do this alone. Everyone who is able to, should wear a face covering when out in public and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Our public health workforce is very good, but we cannot do the prevention for you. We can respond to reports of cases and outbreaks and help to contain the spread. The case numbers have risen lately because we had an outbreak in a long-term care facility and another cluster of cases among a group of friends/co-workers. Hospitals have the capacity to take care of sicker patients. We have testing available in our community. For the most part, people who are sick are staying home and limiting contacts. If only they kept their 6 feet of distance and wore face coverings before they got sick, we would not have exposure and more cases!
Preventing disease is always better. It is something you can do. I am concerned because people continue to ignore wearing face coverings when they are in public. People are gathering in groups and not keeping their physical distance. I know you are eager to get back to seeing your friends and enjoying your activities but please keep that 6 feet of distance and use a face cover if you are within 6 feet of others.
The three months of imposed restrictions is not a strategy I want to repeat but I will not hesitate to recommend that we return to a previous phase if the prevention steps are not being taken. We do not have the resources to enforce the face covering directive, but that does not mean you should ignore it. You need to be responsible and protect your family and friends. Highly vulnerable folks are better off continuing to limit their outings and social contacts. As we saw with the long-term care facility outbreak, we have an increase in hospitalizations and deaths when the elderly and high risk become infected. Our ability to contain this disease relies heavily on every citizen doing their part. We need to continue to prevent the spread of this disease.
Seven ways YOU can prevent the spread of COVID-19: I need all 290,000+ Thurston County residents and the thousands who visit us to follow this advice!
- Maintain physical distancing, keep at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth when you are in public. Cover your cough and then wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth without cleaning your hands first.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid crowds.
Thank you for your diligence and staying healthy!
Diana T. Yu, MD, MSPH, Acting Health Officer, Thurston County