Okanogan County has gone more than a week without reporting any new cases of COVID-19, with 14 confirmed cases as of Tuesday (April 21).
Thirteen of those individuals have recovered, meaning most symptoms have subsided and the individual is no longer at risk of worsening illness. A few of the people have recovered completely, but many continue to have residual symptoms such as fatigue, according to the update from Okanogan County Public Health.
As usual, the case report comes with a caveat. “Remember, just because our numbers are relatively small does not mean there is not still a risk for contracting COVID-19,” Public Health officials said, urging people to adhere to physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.
“Public Health continues to believe that COVID-19 is circulating undetected in our County” because of limited testing supplies, according to the update. “We believe that there are individuals who have COVID-19 but do not meet the testing criteria and thus are not counted in our confirmed case count,” the department said.
Although Public Health is doing everything possible to acquire more tests, “unfortunately there is a national shortage and this not likely to be fixed in the near future,” the department said.
To date, the county has tested 438 people for the coronavirus and is awaiting results on 45 of them. Public Health has conducted 93 new tests within the past week.
Statewide, there had been 141,061 tests as of April 20, with 12,085 confirmed cases (9%) and 652 deaths, according to the Washington Department of Health (DOH). Some cases have still not been assigned to a county, because it takes time to research the county of jurisdiction, which is based on primary residence.
DOH said it’s very difficult to know exactly how many people in Washington have been infected, since most people with COVID-19 experience mild illness and tests are not widely available.
Okanogan County Public Health acknowledges everyone’s impatience to get back to normal and the fact that some people have made greater sacrifices during this crisis than others. But the agency warns that if reopening isn’t cautious and intentional, there could be a second wave of infections that would overwhelm the health care system and put lives at risk.
Public Health has been working closely with other health departments around the state and with the governor’s office. Reopening safely may mean relaxing some restrictions while keeping others in place, the department said.