FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, 425.339.8688
Stay Home, Stay Healthy Updates
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – While the Snohomish Health District is largely focused on the COVID-19 response, many public health activities still continue. Birth and death certificates are provided, permit applications are submitted, and other diseases are investigated.
Also in the midst of this, a Health District employee received a prestigious award earlier today. Brenna Hoppe, an environmental health specialist in Food Safety, was virtually presented with the “Rookie of the Year” award from the Washington State Environmental Health Association.
The award recognizes a new member of the environmental health profession who:
- Has earned the respect of his/her peers for outstanding service in the promotion of, and contribution to, the environmental health profession;
- Does his/her job well, taking responsibilities seriously and continually strives for excellence;
- Shows commitment to the environmental health profession by giving of his/her ideas and efforts;
- Goes beyond what is expected; and
- Contributes to the advancement of the environmental health profession and everything the job and title represents.
Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Health District, discussed recent data on serology testing in media availability this morning. Individuals listed as “confirmed” on our case counts have had a positive PCR test from the respiratory tract. Those listed as “probable” have either:
- Symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and an epidemiologic link to a confirmed case, or
- A positive serologic test for antibodies to COVID-19 and credible history of a COVID-like illness.
Among the 295 probable cases listed this morning, 35 had a positive serologic—or blood—test. Two of those individuals investigated reported having a COVID-like illness in mid- to late-December. A positive serology test indicates prior coronavirus infection. It does not provide details on when the infection was acquired or whether the individual has durable immunity to COVID-19. Given this, it is hard to determine if their illness in December truly was COVID-19, or if it was due to another respiratory infection (e.g., influenza, other viruses) and they later acquired an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.
“Given reports like the ones that we’ve had and others around the country, introduction of COVID-19 may have occurred prior to mid-January,” said Dr. Spitters. “While this is of scientific and academic interest, it doesn’t really change where we sit today or where we have to move ahead. We need to continue our focus suppressing transmission by reducing exposures.”
Similar advice is shared with the community. There is likely a lot of curiosity for those who may have felt ill in late-2019 or early-2020, wanting to know if that illness was COVID-19. However, there is not an immediate need to contact your healthcare provider for serologic testing. Researchers are still working to determine how much—if any—immunity a prior infection provides. Until more is known, the Health District advises continuing to focus on staying home and staying healthy.
There are an additional 20-30 positive serologic results that have been reported to the Health District and are awaiting case investigation. These investigations are a lower priority for disease investigators because the window of time for public health intervention to be useful in these cases has passed. Health District investigators will follow-up on reports of positive serologic results as time is available.
As mentioned last week, the Health District completed its pilot of the rapid test machines and is returning to drive-thru sites similar to the site operated in March.
Community-based testing will resume at two different locations in the north end next week. One location will be on Wednesday, May 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and another location on Friday, May 22. Location details and registration information will be released on Monday. Updates will also be available at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
Case Counts and Updates
Updated case counts are done daily Monday through Friday, with any changes over the weekend included in the Monday updates. Yesterday the Health District published its first weekly report on COVID-19 and long-term care facilities.
Also included on the case count page is a weekly update on testing:
3/3 - 3/9
3/10 - 3/16
3/17 - 3/23
3/24 - 3/30
3/31 - 4/6
4/7 - 4/13
4/14 - 4/20
4/21 - 4/27
4/28 - 5/4
5/5 - 5/12
The community is encouraged to help prevent the spread of illness and to support the response to this outbreak by staying informed and sharing reliable information. This is a very fluid situation and information will be updated at www.snohd.org/ncov2019 and the Health District’s social media channels.