About two weeks ago, frustrated with rumors of 50 or more COVID-19 infections linked to a long-term care facility and no way to confirm the information, we penned an editorial pleading with Lewis County to be more transparent in its COVID-19 reporting.
Specifically, we asked Lewis County Public Health and Social Services to confirm when outbreaks are detected and list Lewis County’s COVID-19 cases by ZIP code. At the time, we had nearly 500 cases. The county is now at well over 600 cases.
Almost immediately, we saw results. The following day, public health confirmed three ongoing outbreaks at congregate care facilities and the next week began announcing, if not total cases in each ZIP code, a range of cases, which is better than nothing.
It’s not perfect — we’d still like to get updates of how many cases are confirmed at each outbreak. We still won’t get confirmation from the county on the locations of outbreaks unless they are public facilities or the private owners decide to share the information with us. Without violating anyone’s individual medical privacy, we need to have information to best protect ourselves and those we love and to have an accurate understanding of how this disease is impacting our community. There’s too much rumor and bluster going around as it is. We want to know the facts, not be left to guess and worry.
But we recognize the compromise from Lewis County to meet our requests, and we do appreciate it.
We will continue to bring you daily updates on case numbers and as much information about outbreaks in the community as we can. For more information straight from official sources, go to www.lewiscountywa.gov/publichealth, or www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19.
Chronicle Special Report on Broadband Concludes Today
The final of three installments of The Chronicle’s Special Report — Spanning the “Digital Divide” is on the front page of today’s paper.
Since Saturday, we’ve been running in-depth coverage of an unexpected side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in rural Washington — the long-simmering problem of a shortage of high-speed internet availability became an emergency as thousands of students began remote learning and thousands more workers began telecommuting.
We end our series today by focusing on how governments and community organizations are working to find creative short-term patches while continuing to strategize their long-term solution to this dilemma.
The Lewis County High Speed Education Network popped up out of nowhere a couple of months ago, and is leading a coordinated effort to identify students without internet access and use grant funds to, in one way or another, get them hooked up so they can do their schoolwork remotely.
The group is made up primarily of school district representatives, United Way of Lewis County and Lewis County PUD and has connected about 1,200 of the 1,700 students it has identified to the internet using $150,000 in coronavirus relief funding from Lewis County and another $50,000 from United Way’s COVID funds.
It’s another great example, along with the local chapter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Centralia’s incoming Early Learning Center, of how much community organizations can accomplish when they work together toward a common purpose.
Ballots Will Be
Mailed Out Friday
The Lewis County Auditor’s Office is mailing out ballots for the Nov. 3 general election starting Friday. If you’re a registered voter in Lewis County, you should see yours sometime next week.
When you get your ballot, we strongly encourage you to do your research (a Washington voters’ guide is available at votewa.gov), then cast your votes on local as well as national races.
Ballots must be turned in to a drop box by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, or postmarked Nov. 3 if dropped off in a mailbox. A stamp is not necessary on ballot envelopes.
If you haven’t registered to vote, you still have time to do your civic duty. Information is online at elections.lewiscountywa.gov, or at the Lewis County Auditor’s Office, located in the county courthouse at 351 NW North St. in Chehalis.
If you’ve never voted, instructions and a sample ballot are also available at the website above.
The Chronicle will have additional coverage of local races in the coming weeks, as well as information on our Northwest pages and on Chronline.com about regional races.
While we haven’t made endorsements of candidates this year, we at The Chronicle strongly urge you to vote, and get your ballot turned in early. It’s easy to feel burnt out and discouraged with politics, but voting is one chance to make a difference.