Thurston County COVID-19 Update: Thurston County Health Officer Letter to the Community

Submitted by Thurston County

Letter to the Community: November 25, 2020

Hello Thurston County, and Happy Thanksgiving! This year is going to be a little different for all of us as we use remote technologies or remain socially distant outdoors to celebrate holidays. At this time of year, I always take a moment to reflect on the things I am most thankful for and I’d like to share with you what I am thankful for in 2020.

Our community: While this year has been exceptionally challenging as we forge a new path forward in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, I am so impressed by the everyday heroism of members of this community. I am humbled by the extraordinary efforts of our health care workers and our first responders in helping people in need, as well as all of you working tirelessly to keep us safe. I am grateful to those who care for the vulnerable from all walks of life and who work to make sure we have access to food, medicine, and supplies. I am heartened by the efforts individuals and organizations have taken to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each of us has an important role to play in keeping our families, ourselves, and our community safe. I am so thankful for the exceptional efforts by everyone in our county for each doing their part to slow the spread of this novel virus.

Vaccines: Recently, multiple promising vaccines have been identified. I am hopeful once one or more are found to be safe and effective, after a thorough vetting process at the national and state levels, we will be able to use a phased approach to vaccinations as they become available, likely starting with high-risk health care workers, first responders, and those at highest risk in our community. There are many people and fortuitous circumstances to be grateful for including the scientists and clinicians who are working diligently in vaccine creation and testing, the volunteers who are part of the clinical trials, those lending their expertise to ensure these vaccines are safe and effective, and those who are laying the ground work for the vaccine roll out around the world, country, state, and here in Thurston County.

Hope: While we must maintain our vigilance to continue to wear face coverings in public spaces, maintain six feet or more from non-household members, avoid large gatherings and unnecessary travel, stay home when sick, and follow proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette for the foreseeable future, the progress in vaccine development and seeing our community take action to slow the spread of COVID-19 sparks a great deal of hope.

We are now entering the winter months. This time brings an increase in transmission of viral respiratory illnesses as people spend more time indoors and the temperature cools. The close indoor contact of the winter months increases the risk of COVID-19 spread. COVID-19 carries a much higher death rate than other respiratory viral illnesses. To date, 1.8% of Thurston County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 have died from the disease and a significant number of those who have had the disease have continued to struggle with symptoms for many weeks after the infection. The efforts I see in our community and the scientific advances on the horizon fill me with gratitude and hope. I am thankful for all of the people working to get us through this winter as safely as possible and for the hope of better times ahead in 2021.

This pandemic has shown how interconnected we all are and how the decisions each of us makes today can significantly impact our communities tomorrow. As your health officer, I am thankful for all of you and the efforts and sacrifices you all are making in this pandemic and all of the progress being made towards a safe return to public life.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dimyana Abdelmalek, MD, MPH

Thurston County Health Officer

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