Among the 650 people who turned out for two days of free COVID testing in Winthrop and Twisp last month, there were no new infections among Methow Valley residents. The sole positive case was an individual from Oroville, according to Okanogan County Public Health.
The free community testing around the county drew 2,035 people. So far, test results have confirmed just 28 COVID cases. The county is still awaiting results for 232 people tested in Okanogan and Coulee Dam.
Overall, new COVID infections in Okanogan County continue an encouraging downward trend, with just 28 cases in the past week, including several days with zero new cases.
The two-week rate per 100,000 population dropped to 161.5, from a high of more than 1,000 in July. The target for new infections over a two-week period is 25 per 100,000.
Cumulative infections in the county were at 996 as of Aug. 31 and deaths remain at nine. The majority — 22 — of the cases confirmed last week were in Brewster. There were no new cases in the Methow Valley.
Statewide, new cases have started to plateau or decline in many areas, although they are still increasing in some counties, according to the Washington Department of Health (DOH).
The reproductive number (how many people each COVID-19 patient will infect) was just below one in eastern and western Washington in mid-August. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean that COVID-19 transmission is declining.
Even with the encouraging numbers, it’s still very important to continue to practice everyday precautions like wearing a mask and physical distancing, Public Health said.
Okanogan County and DOH are still recommending that anyone who has COVID symptoms — a cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell — be tested. In addition, anyone who has had close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID must be tested, Public Health said.
Even people who get a negative test result but who’ve had contact with an infected individual must quarantine away from others for 14 days after the last contact. That’s because it’s possible for people who test negative to still be incubating the virus and to become contagious later, according to Public Health. Moreover, some people spread the virus even though they don’t have symptoms.
The state and county health departments emphasized that their guidelines haven’t changed because the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed some of its recommendations on COVID-19 testing last month. The CDC guidelines said that people without symptoms don’t need to be tested unless they are at high risk, but left it to local health jurisdictions to recommend appropriate protocols for their population.
For detailed information about symptoms, testing and other COVID questions and answers, visit http://www.okanogancountycovid19.org.