Submitted by San Juan County
Over the weekend of July 11-12, three new positive COVID cases were reported on San Juan Island.
Two of these cases were close contacts of each other. In total, over 20 close contacts of those two positive individuals have been identified and contacted by the San Juan County Health Department surveillance team. All close contacts plus the two patients are quarantined for 14 days. Close contacts will be tested shortly, and further investigations may be required based on test results. As in all cases, those in quarantine are contacted daily by Health Department staff to monitor for symptoms and ensure compliance.
The third positive case is still under active investigation.
In a small community, word of positive cases travels quickly. Information sharing and community conversation often spreads unverified details more rapidly than official updates. Frequently, the detail of information shared is more revealing than that provided by the San Juan County Health & Community Services Department. Please remember that some specifics being distributed on social media are not accurate, and the community is asked to avoid speculation. The Health Department will always prioritize accuracy while ensuring privacy, and maintaining the ethical code needed for an appropriate public health response.
As always, more details are released in the event of a situation where public safety depends on it.
A number of community members have reached out to the Health Department inquiring about their need to quarantine or be tested. Please know that the investigation is thorough and those who need to be quarantined or tested will always be contacted as soon as they are identified.
These new cases are a strong reminder that we’re entering a critical phase of the COVID crisis. Good habits that we developed in March and April may be relaxing. Our collective hunger to return to “normal” is strong, but the likelihood of disease spread is increasing. While there is certainly risk from visitors to the islands, transmission from islanders traveling to the mainland or having friends or family visit is proving of equal or greater concern. COVID transmits most easily from those who spend time indoors in close contact with an infected individual. We need to be thoughtful and vigilant about how we interact with our coworkers, our friends, and our families. In particular, children and young adults are a concern given their mobile and close social habits and their ability to transmit the illness to potentially high risk household contacts.
As always, the steps we need to take to help ensure our safety are fairly simple:
• Social events or meetings of any kind should be held outdoors whenever possible.
• Masks should be worn within six feet of others, whether indoors or out.
• Wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands.
• If you have symptoms, talk to your medical provider about being tested.
• Know that getting through this is going to require sacrifice.
• High risk individuals should do all they can to minimize contact with the broader community.
Please remember, we all are vulnerable to infection and transmission of the disease. COVID doesn’t discriminate when it comes to who it impacts. This means there should be no blame or shame put on those who are infected. COVID is a fact of life until a vaccine is available and we all need to imagine ourselves in the position of being infected and think about how we might want to be treated by our community before we pass judgment.
We have a long road ahead and it will require considerable effort, patience, and compassion to emerge safely and humanely.