“Okanogan County Public Health, Washington State Department of Health, and the CDC now recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public places where you cannot reliably stay six feet away from other people.”
Okanogan County Public Health
Public health agencies now recommend face covering
OLYMPIA – The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Okanogan County has risen to nine, according to Okanogan County Public Health, which reports that no one in the county has died from the virus.
As of the last update from Public Health, on Monday, of the nine confirmed cases, those who tested positive were reported as four in the Methow Valley, one in South Okanogan County and four on the Colville Reservation. A total 246 samples have been sent for testing from the county, with 195 negative test results and 42 test results pending.
“All of us involved in the COVID-19 response know that protecting our health workers and first responders is vital for each and every one of us. That is why our limited supplies of commercial Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been reserved for them,” said Public Health in a statement with the update. “Okanogan County Public Health, Washington State Department of Health, and the CDC now recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public places where you cannot reliably stay six feet away from other people.”
The agencies say this might include weekly trips to the grocery store or a necessary trip to the doctor’s office or pharmacy. Or it could be more frequent, if you are an essential worker and your job unavoidably brings you within six feet of people.
“The scientific evidence on masking by the general public is not so clear. One downside of public masking is the idea that masks might make us feel too safe and reduce our attention to hand washing, surface cleaning, social distancing and other critical measures,” said Public Health. “We think cloth face coverings may reduce some additional spread, but, still, the best way to prevent spread of COVID-19 is washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, not touching your face, and staying at home as much as possible. Face coverings will not work without clean hands and good social distance. And don’t put a cloth face covering on a child under age two.”
The agencies are advising that until supplies of commercially made masks are available, members of the public who want masks should be using homemade ones. Masks with three layers of cotton material will work. They can have elastic ear loops or ties that go around the back of the head.
“If you aren’t able to sew a mask, you can use something such as a cotton scarf or bandana folded into three layers that will cover your nose and mouth and tied behind your head,” they say. “The Governor is asking Washington State manufacturing businesses to help in this effort and the prospects are good that thousands of masks can be made available quickly. In the meantime, you will need to make or adapt your own face covering.”
The agencies cautions once a face covering has been worn for awhile, certainly after a days use, be careful when removing it not to touch its outside surface.
“That’s where the virus will be. Wash those used masks in hot water and dry them on high heat – that will kill the virus. And if you have a collection of used masks, treat them as contaminated by carefully dropping them into a sealable plastic bag until you can carefully dump them into a washing machine. Then throw the bag in a garbage can. In health care, we know that taking off PPE carelessly is as risky as wearing it incorrectly, so use special care when you have finished with the mask.”
Washington state is reporting 7,984 cases and 338 deaths. The state Department of Health says 87,911 people have been tested. Of those tests, 8.6 percent have been confirmed as positive with91 percent confirmed as negative.