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Hospital Corner

Great job, Columbia County


April 23, 2020

27% of county residents in “at risk” category

By Shane McGuire


Columbia County Health System

DAYTON–I have lived in Columbia County since 2003 and felt like there was an invisible shield protecting this amazing community. We weathered the great recession that decimated many other communities and industry, and even terrible flu seasons seem to sort of side swipe us a few weeks after clobbering our urban neighbors. Part of our resilience is wrapped within the culture of our people which generally watches out for one another, and we have higher rates of vaccine participation, which provides herd immunity that can keep the flu from running wild within the community.

Understanding that we do not have a vaccine option with COVID-19, the community has done an amazing job of social distancing and protecting one another by staying home and staying healthy. We are once again looking out for one another and it is working, but we cannot afford to become complacent in the coming weeks as the virus is knocking at our boarders.

At the time of this writing, Benton County has 313 cases, Frankland County is at 191 cases and Walla Walla is holding strong with only 27. It is important to recognize the danger this virus presents for us. We know that age is a factor with regards to fatality rates, and Dayton is an older aged community with 27% of our population in the “high risk” category for death from COVID-19; furthermore, Dayton’s median age is 50.3 years as compared to a national median of 38.1. When looking at international statistics, we have witnessed fatality rates of 13% in Italy, which has a median population age of 45.5, and with Spain, which has a median age of 42.7 and a fatality rate in excess of 10%. We can debate the statistics at a later date once our Country has had time to digest the large amounts of data being produced. The final fatality rates as a percentage of those infected will likely drop as we test more people and approve a COVID-19 antibodies test that will show the number of people infected who didn’t have symptoms. We will not however, be able to mute the statistics regarding what this virus does within older populations and those with underlying health conditions.

Historically heroism was recognized in specific acts of courage; with this crisis, heroism is much more subtle but nevertheless heroic: Stay Home, social distance, and stay healthy. This will save the lives of your family friends and neighbors. When this is over, we can then take on the challenge of supporting our local businesses, many of which have been forced to shutter in an effort to control the spread of the virus.


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