WENATCHEE — In a joint press conference Thursday, municipal officers and health authorities from throughout the Wenatchee Valley encouraged social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
The mayors of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee joined other speakers to continue measures to combat the virus, which has infected more than 1,300 people and killed 74 in Washington alone. Almost all of them called the public health effort a once-in-a-generation project.
“This is a time in our country’s history when we need to do extraordinary things,” said Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz. “And some of the folks in my generation don’t know about those things.”
“We haven’t been here, in public health terms, in probably over 100 years,” said Barry Kling, chief administrator of the Chelan-Douglas Health District.
“I’ve never lived through anything like this,” said Confluence Health CEO Dr. Peter Rutherford. “And how long it will last, I don’t know.”
The coronavirus crisis has led Washington to close restaurants, schools and other gathering places statewide, and locally forced closures of courthouses, government lobbies, libraries and utility offices.
It’s also led people to practice “social distancing” — working from home, avoiding handshakes, maintaining minimum six-foot distances from others — to minimize spread of the respiratory virus.
Health officials at the press conference stressed the need to keep coronavirus infections down, so health resources are available for people with other medical conditions.
So far in the Chelan and Douglas County areas, two patients have been identified as infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus. Both were tested by Confluence Health providers and went into self-isolation, with no serious medical complications. Tests on 61 other people showed negative results, but samples from more than 300 more have yet to be tested.