FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2020
CCHHS issues holiday gathering recommendations as COVID-19 case counts rise
LONGVIEW, Washington — After reporting a steady increase in new COVID-19 cases post-Thanksgiving, Cowlitz County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) is asking the public to take extra precautions as the holiday season continues.
Among Cowlitz County residents, COVID-19 case counts are 20% higher than pre-holiday levels. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving (11/15-11/21), an average of 31 new cases were identified each day. In the week after Thanksgiving (11/29-12/5), an average of 38 new cases were identified each day.
The increase took place before free drive-thru COVID-19 testing opened to the public on 12/8.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise, indicating the virus is increasing among county residents who have a higher risk of complications. Between 11/8-11/21, 21 Cowlitz County residents were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, which is more than a five-fold increase from mid-October.
As of 12/14, hospital capacity in SW Washington remained adequate, with a weekly average of 31% of adult staffed beds and 33% of adult ICU staffed beds available. In the past week, an average of 8.6% of staffed beds were occupied by adults with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, which is just below the state’s 10% threshold. The proportion of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in SW Washington has more than doubled since late-October. The data comes from the state’s Risk Assessment Dashboard and covers the SW Washington region, which stretches from the south half of Pacific County to Klickitat County.
“COVID-19 cases are currently at their highest levels in Cowlitz County. In order to keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season, please avoid gathering with people outside of your household or take steps to make gatherings safer,” said Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager. “COVID-19 is a deadly disease. Stay safe this season so you can enjoy the holidays with your loved ones next year.”
CCHHS is discouraging people from gathering indoors with others outside of their household unless they quarantine for 14 days prior to gathering OR quarantine for 7 days prior to gathering and test negative for COVID-19 no more than 48 hours prior.
To effectively quarantine, people must stay at home as much as possible; avoid in-person interactions with people outside of their household; and watch for COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, headache, sore throat and shortness of breath.
Free drive-thru COVID-19 testing is available to the public through December at the Cowlitz County Fairgrounds (1900 7th Ave, Longview, WA 98632) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The test site will be closed on 12/24, 12/25, 12/31 and 1/1. Results take approximately 2-5 days to process and can be accessed online and by phone.
Instead of gathering, consider these alternatives:
- Turn on the TV and watch a movie.
- Host a virtual meal with friends and family.
- Pick a charitable organization and make a donation.
- Go for a walk at a local park or nearby trail.
- Flip through a cookbook and learn a new recipe.
- Shop online sales at your favorite retailer.
CCHHS recommends that people who choose to get-together for the holidays keep gatherings short and small; avoid close contact with others; wash their hands often; wear a mask over their nose and mouth; regularly sanitize surfaces; and closely monitor their health.
If you decide to gather, try following these tips:
- Gather outside. Indoor spaces pose a greater risk of transmission. If you decide to gather indoors, find ways to increase ventilation.
- Keep your gathering short — no more than two hours.
- Allow for at least 6-feet of distance between people from different households.
- Regularly wash your hands. Provide guests with hand soap and sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Ask guests to bring their own food and drink. Avoid buffets and potlucks. Request that your guests wear face masks when they are not eating or drinking.
- Limit contact with surfaces, especially serving utensils, food packaging and trash receptacles.
- When people sing, breathe, talk, sneeze or cough they produce respitory droplets that can spread infection. Keep the music volume down so no one has to shout.
CCHHS wishes everyone a safe and healthy holiday season. For COVID-19 resources, visit our novel coronavirus website. To learn more about our free drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, see our FAQ webpage. To contact the Health and Human Services departments, call (360) 414-5599.
(360) 414-5599, ext. 6451
Release #: 20-074