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In this video, Mayor Barry McDonnell speaks with Dr. Alan Melnick, Public Health Director, and the Clark County Health Officer. They discuss the current situation and what steps need to be in place for a reopening of regular business.

Summary and minutes:

  • 0:40- Dr. Melnick commended the County community as a whole and shared that the community spirit shines.
  • 1:08- How is the community doing?
    • This is the most challenging situation he has ever been involved in within Public Health. Even given the challenges related to supplies and testing, the community has done well abiding by social distancing mandates. The healthcare partners are doing an exceptional job.
  • 2:17- In Clark County and Washington State, we have been successful at flattening the curve. Initially, it was feared that the needs would surpass the hospital bed capacity. Although we are not out of the woods, the models indicate we will not exceed the capacity now.
  • 2:55- One of the main reasons for this change is the distancing put in place. They are now recommending calling it physical distancing, as it is important to still be connected socially.
  • 3:31- Any updates on testing?
    • 3:47- Testing is becoming more available. More importantly, the point of care test has improved to speed up results within minutes. They are prioritizing different groups for testing. Right now they are prioritizing long-term care facilities. They want to do whatever they can to protect the more vulnerable populations.
    • 6:04- They are looking at also prioritizing other demographics at-risk such as those who are unhoused, and other group settings such as the jail and detention centers.
    • 6:23- They hope to see more testing within the community and we are heading in that direction.
  • 6:33- The City of Camas placed construction projects on hold. Are there recommendations on how we should be approaching construction projects?
    • 6:57- The issue around construction goes back to physical distancing. The main way to prevent transmission is to maintain a minimum of 6 feet away from others. The question is how well can that be maintained? Similarly, Clark County parks are open to promote physical activity, but playgrounds and bathrooms are closed due to the close proximity in those areas. In Skamania County, Dog Mountain trail was closed because of people congregating there. So construction is not the problem, but the question of whether the physical distancing can be maintained.
  • 8:23- What would it look like for construction to be opened back up?
    • This is question ties into all businesses. People are asking when can businesses open up, when can we relax the physical distancing? We are dealing with a disease that is easily transmissible and has high morbidity/mortality- from the data they have now, it is 10-20x more lethal than influenza, and there is no vaccine.
  • What needs to be in place:
    1. 9:47 Much more testing available to identify how widespread this is.
    2. 10:11 A blood test for antibodies to determine who has had the disease and recovered (for many the COVID-19 disease presents as little to no symptoms). Within the next month or so, they will be able to tell who is likely immune with this test.
    3. 11:27 Intensive case investigation. They need to interview identified cases, find out where individuals have been while contagious, identify and quarantine close contacts, and monitor those in quarantine for compliance. For this to be effective the availability of point of care testing needs to be in place and for hiring/training staff for the investigations.
  • 12:51- The concern is that if we relax physical distancing before we have those things in place, the infection will be back to where it was before or worse. We have to be vigilant about this.
  • 13:27- The Governors of Oregon, Washington, and California are meeting to develop metrics about how to open up. We need to be careful and diligent. We do not want to revert back to physical distancing.
  • 14:13- What closing advice?
    • There is a lot people can do to prevent themselves from contracting COVID-19. Washing hands, staying home, going out only for essentials, maintaining physical distancing, and the new recommendation to wear a mask in public (which is not to protect you, but protect others-- asymptomatic people can also spread the disease). Until we have a vaccine, these are the things we can do to protect ourselves.
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