Centralia College Student with COVID-19 Not a Lewis County Resident

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A Centralia College student who tested this week positive for COVID-19 was not a Lewis County resident, according to Lewis County Public Health and Social Services. 

Lewis County Public Health and Social Services Deputy Director John Abplanalp said the main concern is for those in the person’s household, not necessarily those who walked the halls or attended class with them. 

“When we do a contact investigation, typically our highest folks of concern are people who are in the same household,” Abplanalp said. “So people who have long-term, real close contact. Just walking past someone on the street or, you know, on campus is not considered an exposure at all. Of course, there’s a lot of gray area between living with someone and walking by them on the street, but, like I said, we’re really focused on the highest level of contact.”

When asked about the student’s county of origin, Alplanalp said he would allow that county to disclose the information. 

County Manager Erik Martin joined Abplanalp and other county officials at the Board of County Commissioners daily COVID-19 informational meeting on Monday. Among Centralia College’s confirmed case of coronavirus, the topic of limiting the exposure between the county and the public was discussed. 

With over 30 people in attendance, Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund inquired about President Donald Trump’s suggestion of limiting public gatherings to less than 10 people. 

Following the meeting, Fund stressed the importance for finding the balance between keeping the public engaged and keeping people safe. 

“Facebook Live, that’s good, but you don’t get to ask the questions that people here do,” Fund said. “So, we need to figure out how we can, if we go like only nine people here or we have us (commissioners), maybe us two, I mean, it’s like how do we get the questions in from those folks.I want people to come out and ask us the tough questions.”

Abplanalp said he and other members of LCPHSS’s Incident Command System didn’t have a chance to look into Trump’s proposed 10-person limit before the meeting. Therefore, he wasn’t able to comment on whether or not it could be more effective than current measures. 

He did say a transition to public meetings taking place online is “definitely in the days ahead.”

“This week, we will be seeing changes in how, as we heard, how the county is going to operate,” Abplanalp said. “Part of that will be meetings exactly like this and how can we provide the same level of interaction or close to the same level for constituents while keeping everyone safe.” 

Lewis County Emergency Management Deputy Director Andy Caldwell said the county’s Emergency Operation Center moved from a Level 1 response to the COVID-19 event to Level 2. 

“We went to a Level 2, which is an enhanced operation,” Caldwell said during the meeting. “That is simply to say that as the county does the declaration of emergency, we want to make sure we’re tracking things a little bit better. So, we’re going to bring in some additional staff to help keep logs, help facilitate the resource requests that are coming in from our partners, whether it be the cities, law or fire.”

He continued by saying Lewis County’s Declaration of Emergency was filed with the state on Monday. Since the county has a confirmed COVID-19 case, Caldwell said it is now in a priority tier for supplies. 

 

“The state is trying to acquire more resources,” Caldwell said. “As soon as they get those resources, they will get them out based on that predetermined tier system the Department of Health has.”