COVID cases still high; toddler vaccine soon

Dr. Gib Morrow talked about the continued high transmission of COVID-19, along with preparing for wildfires, the increase in communicable diseases, monkeypox and even a peanut butter recall at a recent meeting.

The county’s health officer was talking at a Zoom meeting with Kitsap Public Health District board members June 7.

Morrow said a vaccination could be available for children age 6 months and older later in June. He recommends vaccination as the best way to avoid COVID at all age levels. He said there is also oral medicine, so people should talk to their primary caregiver about treatment options.

He said the rate is 200 per 100,000 in population, but the actual number could be five times higher because many people take home tests that go unreported. “It’s a new phase of the pandemic,” he said.

Morrow said while in general this phase is not as dangerous people are still being hospitalized and dying.

Mental health issues, especially with young people, are a side-effect of COVID. Morrow said he wants to get the message out that assistance is available. “You’re not alone in this,” he said, adding it’s making a “real hit to our individual and collective psyches.”


The district will work with the state Department of Health, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Environmental Protection Agency to provide recommendations when air quality becomes impaired.

Morrow recommends everyone become “smoke ready” for wildfires this summer. “Plan clean-air space within home environments,” he said.

Smoke can be dangerous to public health, causing cardiovascular and pulmonary issues.

Other topics

Gonorrhea is up 50 percent from a year ago. From January to April there were 122 cases in the county. Food-borne illnesses also are up, as are cases of tuberculosis. There has been only one case of avian flu in a person, but it has been detected in wild birds.

There has also been only one case of monkeypox in the state. Morrow said it’s a virus related to smallpox. While symptoms are similar to other illnesses it does have a unique rashlike pattern. He said in Central Africa about 10 percent of people who get it die, but in outbreaks worldwide the rate’s been much lower. There have been 19 cases in 12 states in this country. “It’s not a major threat to the general public,” Morrow said.

Poulsbo mayor Becky Erickson asked about the Jif recall. Morrow said the Food and Drug Administration recall was about 16 cases in 12 states. Erickson suggested the district send out alerts on food recalls like it does sewage spills. Morrow said they happen fairly often, and he’s worried about “alarm fatigue” but that it’s a good idea.

District administrator Keith Gellner said 31 people applied for three new board positions as the state required. The board spots represent health care, consumers and at-large positions. Interviews will occur later this month.


Jessica Guidry, county equity program manager, said it’s been a year since the board called racial discrimination an epidemic in the county.

She said lots of progress has been made, including many Juneteenth celebrations and training for county employees.

Guidry said the county is looking at all forms of discrimination and is improving policies and practices as a result. It also is working with the community on knowledge and awareness. County services must be accessible to everyone. And the county workplace needs to be equitable.

She emphasized that equity does not mean equal outcomes, but that “everyone gets a fair chance.”