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October 8, 2020

Skagit Health Officer releases statement on startling upward tick in COVID-19 cases

Today, Skagit Health Officer Dr. Leibrand released the following statement:
“Skagit County, we’re in trouble. COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate, and we need your help to reverse the trend and keep us out of major trouble.

Our rates are going up dramatically with 27 confirmed cases and many more probable cases in the last few days alone.  At this rate of increase, we will soon be over 75 cases per 2 weeks per 100,000 population and back in the high-risk category. We are also seeing more hospital admission and ventilator usage recently,.

I want to talk about just 4 important things.

  1. Masks work.  Mask work to protect you, protect those around you and allow us to interact more safely. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that the better we are about mask use, the less the disease will spread. For the majority of Skagitonians, a simple cloth face mask or covering is plenty effective at reducing disease transmission. 
  2. The vast majority of our cases come from family social gatherings and workplaces.  Every time we interact with another person, there is risk of transmission.  Safety guidelines, if followed, make those interactions less likely to transmit disease. For families, gather safe by gathering small and wearing a mask when you are with people outside your immediate household. For workplaces, safety guidelines have been incorporated into L&I (OSHA) rules and are enforceable. 
  3. Contact tracing helps.  The Health Department works confidentially with infected people to understand where they have been and who they might have exposed while contagious. The Health Department can then make private notifications and recommendations to potential contacts to prevent further spread of the virus.  Information gathered by contact tracers is only used by contact tracers, and don’t worry- unless your direct intention was to infect others you won’t get in trouble for having been places or seeing people while contagious.
  4. Our kids need to be in school. Some of our students have returned to the classroom at least part-time.  The schools are doing this in a safe manner, and we have not seen any in-school transmission yet.  There are plans for others to return to the classrooms over the next weeks to months. If our community rates continue to climb, we risk our ability to keep kids returning to school.

Let's work together to turn this around. This is still a public health emergency, even after seven months!”

Dr. Howard Leibrand has served as Public Health Officer for Skagit County since 1989. He received his Medical Degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and has worked in the medical community in Skagit county for over three decades.