Submitted by San Juan County
Editor’s note: San Juan County accidentally attributed a positive case of COVID to Orcas Island that was meant to be attributed to San Juan Island. The current number of cases per island as of Nov. 20, according to San Juan County, are Orcas, 28; San Juan, 25; Lopez, 5; Outer Islands, 1; and Shaw, 0.
Since the county’s last update on Monday, Nov. 16, total cases in San Juan County have increased from 56 to 59. Two of these new cases are on Orcas Island and the other is on San Juan Island.
There are a total of three positive cases being actively monitored on Orcas Island at this time.
Actively monitored cases are those cases involving confirmed positive individuals who are still in the infectious period of their illness, are required to remain in isolation and are being carefully monitored by San Juan County public health staff. An individual can have ongoing long-term symptoms of COVID and no longer be infectious.
One of the new cases on Orcas Island does not appear to be directly related to previous cases. The investigation is ongoing. The second new case on Orcas Island is a close household contact of a previous case from the ongoing case cluster on Orcas Island (10 total positive cases within that case cluster to date).
In an effort to prevent further spread of the recent case cluster, 34 individuals identified as close contacts were tested, and this new case is the only one that came back positive. All 10 of these cases appear to have resulted from close indoor contact. The source of the initial transmission is unknown.
Out of an abundance of caution, all close contacts will need to remain in quarantine for the rest of their quarantine period. At this time there is no evidence of COVID transmission in the Orcas Schools, Camp Orkila, or broader community as a result of this case cluster. The transmissions to date appear to be via close indoor household contact. Orcas Schools and Camp Orkila are to be commended for their safe operations that helped prevent further spread.
There are zero positive cases being actively monitored on Lopez Island at this time. There has been no new additional activity on Lopez Island this week.
San Juan Island
There are a total of two positive cases being actively monitored on San Juan Island at this time. The one new case on San Juan Island is a close household contact of a previous case.
Case numbers continue to climb rapidly across the United States, including Western Washington.
Like San Juan County, all of our neighboring counties are seeing the highest infection rates of the entire crisis. This is true for virtually all communities in our nation.
Islanders need to remember that approximately 40 percent of infected individuals do not show symptoms, and those with symptoms are actively able to transmit the disease for up to 48 hours before their symptoms appear.
While this drastic increase in cases was anticipated due to weather forcing people indoors and holiday travel, the surge has come earlier and spiked higher than was forecast. As healthcare and public health systems are being pushed closer to their limit, the need to quickly minimize further spread is critical. This is done by wearing our masks, shrinking our social contacts, and not traveling or hosting guests – particularly during this critical time.
Current positive case numbers are available online at the County Case Count Page at https://www.sanjuanco.com/1682/COVID-19-SJC-Case-Count. 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.