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County COVID recap; case total increases to 71

  • Fri Dec 11th, 2020 12:13pm
  • News

Submitted by San Juan County

Note: Current positive case numbers are available online at the County Case Count Page. As indicated on that page, these numbers are only updated after case confirmation is complete, usually daily. It is possible that other information sources in the community may be quicker to report on new cases, but ensuring privacy and accuracy is critical for this official information source.

Since the last update on Friday, Dec. 4, total cases in San Juan County have increased from 66 to 71. One of these new cases is on Orcas Island, and four are on San Juan Island.

Orcas Island

There are a total of one positive case being actively monitored on Orcas Island at this time and one new case since the last report.

The transmission for the new case on Orcas Island appears to be connected to holiday-related contact with visitors from off-island. Close contacts are limited to household members.

Lopez Island

There are no positive cases being actively monitored on Lopez Island at this time.

San Juan Island

There are a total of four positive cases being actively monitored on San Juan Island at this time. Three of the four new cases on San Juan Island are connected to off-island travel, either for work or holiday-related travel. The fourth confirmed case is a close household contact of a previously confirmed case who is also being actively monitored.

Overall picture

So far, the islands have seen a steady but not overwhelming stream of cases, with one to two cases identified on most days since the Thanksgiving travel window. The cases we have seen in the past 10 days have primarily been linked to off-island travel for work or to be with family members for the holiday. While zero cases would be ideal, and the potential for a sudden spike is always lurking given the situation across the state and country, it is a positive sign that we haven’t seen a dramatic surge so far.

Another positive sign is that the cases we have seen recently have led to relatively few close contacts. The majority of these positive cases have not participated in indoor gatherings with people outside of their household, nor engaged in unsafe workplace habits. In addition, those positive cases who chose to travel or host visitors have limited their contact with co-workers and the greater community after doing so. This is no doubt due to thoughtful behavior by islanders with mask-wearing, bubble shrinking, and limiting their travel and hosting.

There is also the reason for cautious optimism in the fact that it is two weeks after Thanksgiving and cases have not shot up. It is still a bit early to know for sure as test results may still be arriving, but the case numbers suggest that by thoughtfully modifying our behavior, we can limit the opportunity for widespread community transmission in the islands. This is encouraging and motivating.

Vaccines are in the news, and for good reason. We’ll provide a more complete update before long but are still awaiting details from both state and federal leaders as to when the vaccine will arrive in San Juan County. At this point, supply will be extremely limited for some time to come. Even those islanders who are in top priority groups will likely not receive their vaccine during the first round of distribution.

Many local medical providers and pharmacies are actively enrolling to be able to distribute the vaccine and are eagerly awaiting the eventual arrival of doses. Stay tuned for details, but the best approach at this point is to stay patient and accepting and focus on the things that are within our control. The standard best practices we’ve refined over the last nine months will be needed for some time to come in order to keep our community safe.