UPDATE | Second person in Jefferson County dies from COVID-19

Posted 1/13/21

A second person in Jefferson County has died from COVID-19, according to Jefferson County public health officials.

The resident who passed away was an 80-year-old woman who was being treated in a …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

UPDATE | Second person in Jefferson County dies from COVID-19

Posted

A second person in Jefferson County has died from COVID-19, according to Jefferson County public health officials.

The resident who passed away was an 80-year-old woman who was being treated in a Seattle-area hospital, according to Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke. 

The woman was admitted to the hospital in late October for surgery unrelated to the coronavirus. Following the surgery, she developed complications which mandated additional hospitalization. 

In early December she became infected with COVID-19 as part of a hospital-wide outbreak, Locke said. 

She passed away Dec. 26 but the reason for the delayed reporting, Locke noted, was due to the fact that state officials were brought in to investigate the death and determine whether her death should be classified as COVID-related or having to do with one of her multiple previously existing medical conditions.

The name of the hospital was kept confidential to protect the woman’s identity. 

Jefferson County’s first death due to COVID-19 was reported in late November.

In announcing the first death in a Nov. 25 email, Locke said the woman who had died from the virus was in her 90s, was chronically ill and had been receiving hospice care.

The second COVID death in Jefferson County comes as coronavirus cases continue to climb following the holiday season.

Jefferson health officials announced four new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the cumulative total of positive COVID tests to 257 in the county since the start of the pandemic.

The new cases announced Monday involved a Port Townsend man in his 50s, a mid-county woman in her 20s, a mid-county man in his 20s, and a mid-county man in his 50s.

The number of COVID cases continues to rise nationally, and total cases since March 2020 went past 22.7 million earlier this week.

“We set another grim record last week on Jan 7. When there was over 4,000 deaths in one day,” Locke said during his Monday pandemic briefing before county commissioners.

In Washington state, a total of 276,686 COVID-19 infections was reported Monday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Washington state has jumped 27 percent over the past two weeks, Locke said.

The rise comes after the number of cases had hit a plateau, he added. 

On average, there are about 2,700 new cases per day in Washington.

The increase is due to Christmastime gatherings, Locke said.

“We’re definitely seeing holiday surge issues,” he said.

The new cases involved county residents hosting out-of-state or out-of-area visitors for the holidays, “which is something we’ve recommended against,” Locke said.

Case investigations into those who have gotten the coronavirus also confirm the existence of a holiday-caused surge, he said.

While the number of cases continues to grow, there’s hope that more vaccinations will be made available to people in the weeks and months ahead.

Locke said while 22 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine has been distributed, only 6.7 million vaccination shots have been given.

That’s about 30 percent of the available vaccine, Locke told county commissioners at their pandemic briefing earlier this week.

The percentage of vaccine doses administered nationally also matches the progress made in Washington state, where approximately 30 percent of available doses had been given.

“That’s not the case in Jefferson County,” he added.

As of Friday, Jefferson Healthcare has administered 86 percent of the doses of coronavirus the hospital has received.

Jefferson Healthcare received a third shipment of the Pfizer vaccine Friday.

This week, healthcare workers will start scheduling people in the 1b group to begin getting vaccinations, which are expected to start Jan. 18.

Locke said the county also hopes to get another shipment of the Pfizer vaccine this week. Each shipment has contained 975 vials of the vaccine.

Jefferson County was one of the first counties in the country to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and that’s been reflected by the number of doses already administered, the county’s public health officer noted.

“Jefferson County is way ahead of the curve,” Locke said.

Healthcare workers began giving COVID-19 vaccinations right after doses of the Pfizer vaccine was received, “and have been vaccinating aggressively ever since,” Locke said.

Shipments of the vaccine, however, have been unpredictable.

“The allotments have been anything but predictable,” Locke said.

The supply continues to outpace demand, but vaccinations will be focused on those who face the highest risk and the most elderly.

The vaccination plan as it continues is to start with the oldest people first; those over 85 years in age, then younger.

Locke said the next tier for those to get the vaccine — the over 70 age group — has at least 7,000 people in it.

People who need a vaccination will be given an appointment to use the hospital’s drive-thru clinic at Jefferson Healthcare.

The drive-thru clinic can do about 250 vaccinations a day, Locke said, but he added that the operation was currently half-staffed and can be expanded with more lanes if needed.

“We are up to the task. We’ll ramp things up as necessary,” Locke said.

Through early Monday, Jefferson Healthcare has received a little under 3,000 doses and had administered almost 1,700 to people in the 1a category, which is made up primarily of healthcare providers and frontline personnel.

Health officials expect to have about 550 vaccination slots for people in the 1b category, Locke said.

Scheduling those vaccinations were expected to start Wednesday, Jan. 13, with shots in arms planned for Monday, Jan. 18.

Shipments of coronavirus vaccines are not expected to stabilize for a few weeks, but Locke said that the distribution effort will change after the start of the Biden administration.

A higher flow of the vaccine is expected by local health officials.

“We think things will loosen up by the end of January,” Locke said.

“We will administer the vaccine as fast as we can get it,” he said.

Leader reporter Nick Twietmeyer contributed to this report.

Comments

2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
Stephen Schumacher

This second Jeffco death blamed on COVID-19 is even more dubious than the first (a hospice patient in her 90's). In additional to multiple comorbidities and surgical complications, she had not been near Jefferson County for 2 months when she contracted COVID-19... all events surrounding her death took place in the Seattle area.

Below is a letter I wrote questioning Jeffco's earlier death, which the Leader and Peninsula Daily News declined to publish. Its closing line appears to be still accurate: "Based on information reported to date, Jefferson County still seems to have no deaths from COVID-19."

---

Dear Editor,

I respectfully question the basis on which "Jefferson County just recorded its first death from COVID-19 last week."

The decedent was "in her 90s and was chronically ill and had been receiving hospice care," meaning she was already on the verge of death with no hope of cure. She may have died WITH the virus, but I doubt she died FROM the virus.

This is a classic example of how shifting standards and incentives have inflated COVID-19 death totals. Coronavirus illnesses like colds didn't count as the cause of death for hospice patients in years gone by.

But nowadays, "if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death... anyone who passes away after testing positive for the virus is included in that category," per Illinois' Health Director.

Hence our county's "first death from COVID-19" would be "included in that category ...after testing positive" whether or not she had any COVID symptoms hastening her already-imminent departure.

Note how this miscounts (often false) positive PCR tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus as if they were symptomatic cases of the disease COVID-19, further inflating "case" and death statistics. Like HIV and AIDS, the virus and the disease are different concepts and should not be lumped together.

Based on information reported to date, Jefferson County still seems to have no deaths from COVID-19.

Stephen Schumacher

--- source links ---

https://www.ptleader.com/stories/first-death-from-covid-19-reported-in-jefferson-county,72373

https://www.ptleader.com/stories/covid-19-death-linked-to-senior-care-facility,72394

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/end-of-life/in-depth/hospice-care/art-20048050

https://week.com/2020/04/20/idph-director-explains-how-covid-deaths-are-classified/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/29/health/coronavirus-testing.html

https://twitter.com/kylamb8/status/1332428342251950087

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/naming-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-2019)-and-the-virus-that-causes-it

Wednesday, January 13
D. Hinman

Bravo, Schumacher! Those are some Olympic level mental gymnastics.

I look forward to seeing you in the 2021 Games.

Thursday, January 14