95 infected with COVID-19 following superspreader event in Republic
REPUBLIC, Wash. — A superspreader event in Republic has led to nearly 100 people contracting COVID, forcing businesses to close over a lack of workers.
The Northeast Tri County Health District reported a dramatic surge in COVID cases connected to a membership drive at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles on April 9 and 10. As of Thursday, the Health District counts 95 attendees and close contacts tested positive for COVID from this event.
“This event certainly woke us up and now we’re dealing with the crisis that it’s created,” said “Dr. Sam Artzis, Health Officer for the Northeast Tri County Health District. “We shouldn’t be surprised, but we were, especially in Ferry County because they’ve been doing such a good success rate throughout most of this pandemic.”
We’ve just been notified that a member who was here last Friday evening, has tested positive for COVID – we wanted you…
Most of the cases are connected to people between 20 and 59-years-old. As of Thursday, seven people are in the hospital. No one has died, but Artzis is concerned about some people who he said are very sick.
This outbreak has impacted people who weren’t even there. The Health District reports all government departments, court, public works and utilities are shut down due to the outbreak, and several businesses have had to close due to a worker shortage.
While the rise in cases is a concern, so is vaccine hesitancy. According to the Health District, 77% of Ferry County isn’t vaccinated.
“Unfortunately, we’ve also seen those numbers tail off of people who want the vaccine much less across all the ages groups at the moment,” Artzis explained.
He said the county finally has enough vaccines to give to anyone. They’re working on educating people about the vaccine to get more shots in arms.
“We do have a ways to go with that effort, but vaccine is present. We have it here within our three counties,” said Matt Schanz, the Health District’s administrator.
News of this superspreader sparked strong words from Governor Inslee on Thursday afternoon.
“I heard about a bunch of people over in Ferry County decided to have a series of social events, in part to show that COVID didn’t matter—they want to show that COVID’s no big deal. They flouted public health guidelines, they ignored clear science, and it ended up turning into a superspreader event. As a result, there was an outbreak,” said Gov. Inslee. “This has taken a tremendous toll on the community, on the healthcare system, and the businesses. We all have a stake in getting vaccinated and continuing to be careful in how we live our lives.”
The Health District is using this opportunity to remind people to mask up, stay home if you’re sick, socially distance, and only gather with others outdoors.
“In the last two weeks, an event in Ferry County has demonstrated the danger of relaxing precautionary measures due to a gathering held in Republic,” reads a release from the Health District. “This outbreak has significantly impacted Ferry County Health, and a multitude of businesses/facilities within the community. The rapid spread that occurred in Ferry County could easily occur in any of the three counties when we start to relax precautionary measures.”
4 News Now has reached out to the Fraternal Order of the Eagles and have not heard back.
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