Surge of Delta Variant

Release date: 08/19/2021
Sponsored by: Board of County Commissioners Department

Statement from Board Chair Kathryn Harrington on the surge of Delta variant

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Washington County as of August 19, 2021

Our public health officials have worked diligently to keep the Board of County Commissioners up to date about the current Delta variant situation, including the latest data and projections. Put simply, there is an alarming escalation in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Washington County and the worst health outcomes are being experienced by those who are unvaccinated. Many of these unvaccinated people are children ineligible for any of the available vaccines.

Of critical importance is the fact that our health and medical providers are under extraordinary strain and their capacity for providing medical care is at risk if we don’t work together to take preventive action over each and every one of the next several weeks. What this means is that people who have a serious accident or require any type of acute care may not have access to a hospital bed when they need it. 

It is also vital to understand that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted parts of our local economy that rely on in-person interaction, such as restaurants, retail businesses and other critical sectors.

As a local public health authority, Washington County is looking at everything that can be done in our community to mitigate harm and slow the spread of COVID-19, including policy changes to improve the enforcement capabilities our team has to address violations of statewide masking and other requirements. Consistent with the County’s approach in the past, this code enforcement work begins with education and guidance, often driven by complaints, leaving citations and fines as a last resort for when these efforts are unsuccessful. 

No other actions – such as banning indoor dining – are being planned at this time. Our regional public health officials have informed us that, without a statewide or a regionally consistent approach, banning indoor dining would be ineffective. Throughout this global pandemic, the Board of County Commissioners has endeavored to make policy decisions based on the best science available at the time. This is another one of those times.

As we all work together to face this latest surge of COVID-19, it is clear that accessing safe and effective vaccine remains the single-most important step any of us can take to bring this pandemic to an end. Additional steps that we are all familiar with are also of vital importance – especially as we seek to protect the unvaccinated. Those include wearing a mask when indoors, carrying a mask at all times and using it when outdoors when physical distancing can’t be maintained, avoiding unmasked crowds and large gatherings, keeping at least six feet of distance at all times to limit exposures, gathering outdoors to socialize with people outside of your household for the next six weeks (until end of September) and staying home whenever we might feel sick. 

More information can be found at the Washington County website at  

Media Contact:

Philip Bransford, Communications Officer