The Wenatchee Valley Recovery Council announces two key efforts to prepare for safely reopening our community: community COVID-19 testing and a business toolkit for safe reopening. The proactive COVID-19 testing effort will require the testing of 250 households for COVID-19 for the purpose of providing on the ground data to guide local authorities as they work to safely reopen our community. The business toolkit is available to all businesses and includes guidance on how to keep their employees and customers safe, a business safety plan worksheet and printable posters with information for employees and customers. The toolkit also provides a checklist for businesses to post indicating the steps they are taking to operate safety.
    Random sampling is a recognized way to accurately determine how much COVID-19 has spread in the Wenatchee Valley without testing every person in the community. The method is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and has been used successfully in the past to appropriately manage public health threats. This initiative requires 250 randomly selected households in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Cashmere, and Leavenworth to be tested for COVID-19. The data gathered will be used to establish the rate of infection more accurately in the Wenatchee Valley region and is key to keeping the community as open and as safe as possible.
    Stu Freed, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Confluence Health explained that while tests for patients with symptoms related to COVID-19 have been going up and down for several weeks, testing of hundreds of patients scheduled for surgeries or procedures have shown a zero infection rate so far.  “Over the past two weeks, we have seen no positive tests in these patients,” Freed said. “This is a hopeful sign that the baseline rate of infection in our area is still low. We would like to use a proven technique to test roughly 250 households in our area to confirm that our rates are low.”
    East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford reiterated that, “Data from these tests are vital to getting our region’s businesses open again. This testing will establish a community baseline to help us manage future spikes of infection while keeping our economy open.”
    As this community testing takes place, the Recovery Council wants to ensure businesses have the tools they need to keep their employees and customers safe. The toolkit provides the necessary guidance and steps they need to take. As the testing takes place and we see start to see the full picture of our community’s infection rates it will be important to make sure business owners know how to keep people safe in their shops to mitigate further spread of COVID-19.
     “The continued collapse of our economy is unhealthy. This project represents the critical balance between public health and moving the economy forward,” said Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz. “This information will help us better understand how COVID-19 has spread through our community and how best to get back to work safely.”
    The collaborators for the community testing effort include the Wenatchee Valley Recovery Council, Confluence Health, Columbia Valley Community Health, Cascade Medical Center, Lake Chelan Community Hospital and the Chelan Douglas Health District. The Recovery Council was formed to bring the region’s business, non-profit, health care and elected officials together to work towards a recovery strategy.  The Council is Co-Chaired by Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz and East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford and includes Chelan and Douglas County Commissioners, business and non-profit leaders from key industry sectors, health care leaders and public health officials, and members of the Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors.  Council members have endorsed the initiative and volunteered to be tested. 
    The business toolkit, provided by the Recovery Council in collaboration with the Lake Chelan, Leavenworth and Wenatchee Valley Chambers of Commerce will be made available at www.wenatchee.org/covid19update
    For the list of members and more information on the Council’s purpose, goals and process, please visit http://wenatchee.org/covid-recovery-council

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