Yesterday, Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, issued a press release that provided this information about health risks now present in Columbia County:
As of Monday, per the CDC, Columbia County's rate of new COVID-19 cases remains in the low risk category. On Thursday, the CDC-reported average of new daily cases per 100,000 of population stood at 19.2. The positive test rate is 11.4 percent.
According to Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb, "Columbia County's COVID-19 positive cases for the week ending July 8 remained fairly constant in comparison with the numbers from June. As of today, we received reports of 87 positive cases this week. Also today, we have 13 in area hospitals and one in the ICU. Of the eight individuals at Columbia Memorial Health all are vaccinated, with six over the age of 60 and the other two under 40."
Director Mabb said his department is watching the rapid growth of the latest omicron variant BA-5. Information from the state Health Department this week shows BA-5 accounting for 54% of all new positive cases. That's up from the 37% last week.
"It appears to be more contagious and perhaps more virulent," said Director Mabb, who noted the saving grace for us is that it is summer, kids are out of school and we're spending more time outside. "We are anxious about what the fall will bring."
The county Department of Health is also following a probable case of Powassan virus. This is a very rare tick-borne illness that can cause serious complications such as encephalitis, seizures, loss of coordination, and confusion. More common symptoms include headache, nausea, fever, and fatigue.
"I do want to emphasize that Powassan is very rare. This is only the second case we've had in the last three years," said Director Mabb. By comparison the county has seen 489 cases of Lyme disease so far this year.
The state of things in Columbia County was the subject of a report on WAMC today, which can be read and heard here: "Columbia County warns of possible Powassan virus; COVID deaths tick up too." It is not known if the pun in that headline was intended or not.