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The original item was published from 12/2/2020 11:25:59 AM to 1/2/2021 6:05:05 PM.

News Flash

Health & Human Services

Posted on: December 2, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Press Release: Public Health COVID-19 response times impacted by surge of cases

Cowlitz County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) continues to work through the recent ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases. During the week of November 16, more than 170 COVID-19 cases were reported in Cowlitz County.  In the first three days of the following week, over 170 additional cases had already been reported.


Last week, CCHHS announced it was modifying its COVID-19 response to prioritize interviewing cases and identifying priority locations where exposures may have occurred. CCHHS continues to work closely with priority locations, which include long-term care facilities and other congregate living settings, schools, and large food processing or manufacturing facilities, to prevent and mitigate outbreaks. CCHHS is no longer identifying, notifying and monitoring individual close contacts of confirmed cases.


CCCHS is still striving to call every person who tests positive. However, given the increasing case numbers, not all cases will be reached for an interview. CCHHS has begun prioritizing the most recent cases. Those cases who are not reached within two days of the positive test result will not likely receive a call from CCHHS. This is consistent with current CDC guidance to prioritize the most impactful public health activities when the burden of COVID-19 is high in an area.


“We’re working with our local health care providers to ensure everyone who tests positive receives the appropriate information, even if we are unable to reach them,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, county health officer. “The CCHHS COVID-19 website also contains information for COVID-19 cases and their close contacts, as well as links to additional resources.”


CCHHS has asked local health care providers to give everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 instructions for isolation and a handout for close contacts that details quarantine recommendations. All cases should isolate at home until they are no longer contagious and notify anyone they were in close contact with that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.


Later this week, CCHHS will announce free drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinics that will take place during the month of December.  “We have been working with local healthcare partners and pharmacies for quite some time to increase testing options for our community,” said Carole Harrison, interim CCHHS director.  “We know how frustrating it has been for the public to find local COVID-19 testing, so we are pleased to be able to have an option.”  Details for the drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic will be announced by the end of the week. 


CCHHS is also receiving an increase of calls from the community regarding COVID-19. Staff is working diligently to respond to all calls, however, response times may be longer than normal. Here are some resources that can address the questions and concerns from the community:


Cowlitz County Health and Human Services novel coronavirus website – Information about COVID-19 symptoms and testing, recommendations for preventing illnesses, guidance for cases and close contacts, and the most current local data.


Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 assistance hotline, 800.525.0127 – Available 6 am to 10 pm Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm weekends and holidays.


COVID-19 reopening guidance for businesses and workers website – Requirements for businesses and details about Gov. Inslee’s statewide restrictions.


To contact the Health & Human Services Departments, please call 360-414-5599.


Ralph Herrera, PIO


Release #: 20-068

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