I have some questions and concerns regarding the coronavirus in our area so I looked up the Siskiyou County Public Health COVID-19 web page. On this page there is very little actual information. It does include the number of confirmed cases and negative tests but not much else, except a whole lot of advisories, directives, and orders. Seems this site is more devoted to telling us what to do than keeping us informed, though it is hard it tell since the site is a hodge-podge of different things not even in chronological order. The latest news release appears to be the one dated March 23. This news release states that, at the time, there were 3 confirmed cases, 2 as a result of travel outside the county and one person to person contact (whatever that means). The report also states that the health department “will release any information we can to keep the community informed” and “privacy of patients is utmost priority.” So where is this “any information?”

Okay, I get the need for patient privacy. But is it giving up too much “patient privacy” to let us know the general whereabouts of these confirmed cases? And what exactly does “person to person contact” mean? And what about the 2 more confirmed cases that are listed now (total of 5 currently on the site)? No information about those, or the 195 negative tests. In the mean time there are stories going around the county about the nasty cold that many of us suffered through a few months ago. Some say that it was COVID-19. I don’t believe that, but what do I know? I have not heard anything about it from health department.

So I called the regular health department number, which directed me to call 211. So I did, only to get a message that told me to visit the web site that told me to call the health department.

With a lack of information I guess I am free to make my own assumptions. Looks like there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Siskiyou County so I have nothing to worry about here. And the people who have tested positive probably live far away from me since I don’t know anything about where they live. With the 195 negative tests I can assume that the health department has tested, and will test, anyone who remotely has symptoms or has come into contact with anyone with symptoms. And since I had a nasty cold back in February I am probably immune anyway, as is half the county. I should go about my business as if I have nothing to worry about with regard to COVID-19.

This is not how I really think. But I am making the point that if the health department in our county is not very forthcoming about what is going on, then we as individuals may come to our own conclusions. And these conclusions may not be consistent with the health department directives. Telling people over and over again to wash your hands and stay six feet away from other people is not going to mean much if we have low confidence that the health department is telling us the whole story. It is better if we all work together through times like this, but this requires the people who have actual information to share that information the best they can.

Mark Reichert