Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


In the fast-changing times that define life in the age of the novel coronavirus, access to accurate information regarding test counts is important to residents, and local government is working to provide those resources to citizens.

The Kittitas County Public Health Department is working to streamline their COVID-19 emergency resources site, with new changes expected in the coming days. These changes come amidst multiple reporting errors on the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard for Kittitas County.

As of Monday, the state’s dashboard showed seven positive cases reported in Kittitas County, which is inaccurate. The county’s incident response information webpage is accurate, however, showing the current count at nine. As of Monday, the county’s site lists a total test count of 324, with 247 negative test results and 69 tests pending.

KCPHD Public Information Officer Kasey Knutson said although this is the second incident of inaccurate case reporting at the state level, the site is still a valuable tool for people to utilize as the information is vetted and accurate regarding recommendations and state-level updates on the virus. Although she couldn’t definitively say why the reporting errors occurred, she said it may have to do with the revamps the state has done to their site recently.

When it is rolled out, Knutson said the county’s website update will include more infographics similar to the state’s page.

“Hopefully by (Monday), that’s going to look cleaner and have a better presentation,” she said. “We’ll be able to say strongly, ‘Hey, look at the local data,’ because the local data is right and that’s what we are tracking and that’s what we have.”

Although the data on the revamped site will be comprehensive, Knutson said certain information such as the geographical location of positive cases in the county won’t be released due to confidentiality purposes.

“Because we’re such a small county, we’re just really careful with making sure we’re not putting an individual in a position where someone’s going to be able to identify them,” she said. “Right now, I don’t foresee being specific as far as where the cases are distributed.”

One type of information Knutson said the department can potentially provide is the health status of the individuals who have tested positive. When the department was issuing statements on individual positive confirmations, they were including that information in the releases, but now that they are streamlining the data into their website, Knutson said adding that extra information is a possibility.

“I think we’re trying to be as responsive as we can,” she said. “If that’s a data piece that people are wanting to know, that’s certainly something we can try to provide.

Along with the information dashboard being developed by the county, Knutson said residents can submit questions to Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson via the department’s Facebook page for him to answer during his daily 3 p.m. question and answer session. For those who don’t utilize social media, Knutson said the county is working to get the questions and answers published on the emergency resources site, which she said will also act as a resource for those who are on social media but may have missed some of the sessions.

“It’s been really nice to see him be able answer those questions so that people can put a face to the information,” she said. “I think that’s the benefit of having a small county is that we’re really trying to be responsive to questions and concerns,” she said.

CURRENT TESTING PARAMETERS

KCPHD issued a press release Monday explaining the limits of eligibility for COVID-19 testing within the county. To date, the release said those factors include if the patient is symptomatic and falls into a risk pool which includes those over 60, pregnant or having underlying health conditions. Health care workers who have potentially been exposed and individuals who may be linked to a cluster of people who have tested positive for the virus are also included in the risk pool for potential testing.

The release states that not everyone needs to be tested for the virus because there is currently no medicine to treat it. As a result, the test result will not change how a health care provider will manage the symptoms. The release continues by explaining that the testing parameters are in place to preserve resources while providing information that would require a changed response from the health care system.

“We would test more people if we could,” Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson said in the release. “With the limited resources and supplies available, we are still recommending testing of high-risk populations only.”

Comments

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.