Submitted by Lewis County Public Health & Social Services

Lewis County Public Health & Social Services (LCPHSS) Health Officer Dr. Rachel Wood issued a Health Officer Order today, July 21 which states, “No indoor or outdoor youth sports tournaments involving youth under age 18 from outside of Lewis County shall be conducted until further notice.”

This order takes effect immediately. It cancels all indoor or outdoor youth sports tournaments that would draw youth players from outside Lewis County, along with their coaches and supporters.

Dr. Wood explained the reasons behind her order. “This is not the time to risk importing or exporting the coronavirus via large numbers of people in mass gatherings. COVID-19 cases in Lewis County are rising faster than at any previous time. The percentage of tests that come back positive is going up, and the number of new cases so far in one month of Phase 3 is double the number we saw in three months of Phases 1 and 2 combined.”

Even though most cases are now occurring in younger, healthier people, she said, those people can pass the disease to others who would have a much worse experience with the virus. “I am concerned that our clinics and hospitals will start to fill up as the virus spreads from younger people to people with more vulnerable health conditions such as being older, having heart and lung disease, auto-immune diseases, or cancer,” she said.

A county health officer has the authority and responsibility under the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 246-100-036 to institute disease control measures based on his or her professional judgment, current standards of practice, and the best available medical and scientific information.

LCPHSS Director J.P. Anderson said, “We know this is a drastic step, but we truly believe it is a necessary one. Dr. Wood is on top of the latest information to be found on COVID-19, knows her job, and knows this county after serving it for 13 years. This is not an action we took lightly.”

Health officials say they will watch the data closely to determine when it is safe to rescind the order. They say it depends in large part on people making thoughtful changes to behaviors that likely fuel the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask in public, social distancing and limiting gatherings of large groups of people has reduced COVID-19 spread in other counties. They see no reason it will not work here, too.

“Lewis County as a whole is seeing COVID infections spreading throughout the county.  This is also being seen throughout most of Washington State.  The virus will continue to spread unless concrete steps are taken to stop the spread,” Dr. Wood said.

Download a copy of the complete order at: https://phsscovid19.lewiscountywa.gov/.

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