Five new cases of COVID-19 have now pushed Vashon’s total number of infections to 29, according to statistics from Public Health — Seattle & King County.
This number represents just over a doubling of cases on the island since Sept. 1, when the total case count stood at 14.
A chart, produced by the Vashon’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), shows the steep curve of Vashon’s climb: it took 24 weeks to get to 14 cases, but only six more weeks to reach 29. The number of new cases this week also tied the previous record of five cases in a week. Both weekly records were logged since Sept. 1.
According to the EOC, out of state travel has driven the recent spike, with three family clusters emerging in the past six weeks linked to that activity.
In each case, one or more household members traveled for personal reasons, and family members were found to be infected after they returned to Vashon.
“Many people have been asking if some transportation mode might be safer than another, comparing airplanes to trains or cars, but that’s not the issue,” said Dr. Jim Bristow, leader of the EOC’s Medical Reserve Corps testing team. “The real problem appears to be what people do at their destination. They often are traveling for family gatherings, and who is not going to give grandma or their niece a big hug at a birthday party or wedding?”
Recent cases, the EOC said, have been contained to the family clusters and have not spread in the community. Still, Dr. Zach Miller, the infectious disease expert serving on Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps, said the trend was concerning.
“It’s fortunate that Vashon is not yet dealing with community person-to-person spread of COVID-19 outside of individual households, because most of the new cases connect to family cluster events,” said Miller. “However, every time one of these clusters shows up, we worry that the disease will escape into the community.”
One of the recent family clusters included a staff member of Langland Dental Associates, but the EOC has reported that there has thus far not been community spread linked to that case. (See page 8).
The MRC urges everyone, for their own safety and the safety of their family, to put off travel. Those who do travel are urged to quarantine for 14 days when they get home, even if that means quarantining from household members who did not go on the trip. Anyone who has even mild viral symptoms is urged to get tested.
Reporter’s note: Some of the news in this story is also contained in the Emergency Operations Center report on page 8. The Beachcomber believes this important public health news bears repeating.