Public Health: ‘Social distancing’ not a bad idea

There is a likelihood of COVID-19 spreading in the community, but most people will experience it as a mild illness and there are still no Grays Harbor cases confirmed by testing, said Karolyn Holden, Director of Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services.

The two people from Grays Harbor who were under investigation for COVID-19 last week and are still being treated outside the county, provided samples a week ago, but the tests, which are being done by state labs, have not been completed, according to Holden. She said those people had not been known to have exposed a large number of people and that likely affected the priority of the actual tests.

More cases are expected in the weeks to come and for most, symptoms are likely to be mild and not require medical care, Holden said.

So far, the deaths that have been reported involved patients who had underlying health conditions, and as many as 80-85% who will get the disease can expect to have mild symptoms or no symptoms, Holden said.

Public Health has changed its focus from containment to community mitigation, outreach and education while closely coordinating with local health care providers, she said.

Holden said people can reduce their chance of getting sick by practicing social distancing. For example, she said she might drive to a family member’s house on an upcoming trip to Oregon instead of taking a train. She wouldn’t avoid going to Seattle, she said, but she’d be less likely to attend a large event. Refraining from handshakes or hugs can also help prevent the spread of the virus, she said.

“With social distancing, we’re talking about six feet or more,” she explained.

People should make sure their households have what they need, and they should begin making plans in the event of disruptions to school or work routines, she said.

“What’s unique about COVID-19 is that it’s a novel virus, which means that it’s new and that there’s no immunity in the public,” Holden said.

The key to preventing a major health crisis is to slow transmission of the disease down, she said.

The main ways to do that are to take precautions like washing hands, using hand sanitizer, practicing social distancing and people staying home when they feel ill, she said.