Public Health urges residents to take precautions to slow COVID-19 spread over Labor Day weekend

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Clark County Public Health is urging the public to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.

The number of new COVID-19 cases has plateaued in Clark County after a dramatic increase in cases from late June through the middle of July. A recent report attributes the plateauting number of cases across the state to face covering requirements and the governor’s decision to pause the Safe Start reopening plan.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases has slowed in Clark County, activity is still high. The current infection rate is just over 63 cases per 100,000 people. Lower infection rates are necessary in order to safely expand in-person learning in Clark County schools.

“Wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing are effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Clark County Health Officer and Public Health Director Alan Melnick said in a news release. “We need to do everything we can to continue to lower the infection rate so kids and safely return to the classroom.”

Melnick and the rest of Clark County Public Health are referencing the Washington State Department of Health’s decision tree framework when making recommendations for public schools. Under the state guidance, the COVID-19 infection rate in Clark County falls within the moderate risk category (25 to 75 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days9.

Public Health will consider recommending expanded in-person learning, beginning with the youngest students, after COVID-19 levels remain in the moderate range for at least three consecutive weeks following the Labor Day holiday.

“Our actions over the holiday weekend could impact how quickly Clark County students can return to their schools in person,” Clark County Deputy Health Officer Steven Krager said.

According to the news release, small private gatherings continue to be a common place where COVID-19 spreads. In July, private gatherings of one to 10 people were the likely source of exposure for 22 percent of COVID-19 cases in Clark County for which exposure data was available.

Any gatherings should be limited to no more than five people from outside of the household — the largest gathering size allowed under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. Face coverings should be worn anytime people are gathering with others from outside of their household, not just in public places.

Remember to wash hands frequently, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces and stay home when sick.

— The Reflector

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