East Wenatchee, WA – The Omicron Emergency Operations Center, stood up last month in response to the highly contagious COVID variant, will be deactivated on Friday, February 10.
The initial objectives established for the Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, have now been met, said Stephen Rinaldi, EOC manager and the Chelan County fire marshal. Among those objectives were monitoring for Omicron surges that may impact vital infrastructure in Chelan and Douglas counties and planning for, organizing and deploying resources where necessary.
“We were activated to monitor and evaluate the operations of our critical infrastructure in the two counties, to be able to respond quickly to a surge if it impacted our schools, utility providers, daycare and long-term care facilities, or health care systems,” Rinaldi said. “Community stakeholders have been able to maintain their services throughout the last four weeks without the need for additional support.”
The EOC was activated on January 18 at the Wenatchee Valley College and was expected to be in operation for four weeks.
In that time, stakeholders, which include representatives of each of the monitored groups, have established open lines of communication with the EOC, allowing staff to monitor and evaluate the day-to-day progress of Omicron through the community and its impacts on their daily operations, Rinaldi said. Confluence Health, for example, reported daily how many beds it had available and the number of staff sick, and the North Central Educational Services District reported impacts on classrooms and staff as well.
“Without this level of cooperation from the stakeholders, it would have been tough to complete our task,” Rinaldi said.
Stakeholders will now report directly to the Chelan-Douglas Health District’s Incident Management Team, established more than two years ago to oversee COVID vaccinations, testing and day-to-day operations of the pandemic.
“So the monitoring won’t stop,” Rinaldi explained. “It will just be transitioned over to the Incident Management Team.”
Dr. James Wallace, interim health officer with the Chelan-Douglas Health District, cautions the community that the deactivating of the EOC does not mean the Omicron wave is over.
“We are coming out of the surge, but people still need to remain vigilant,” Wallace said. “That means wearing your mask, washing your hands and not gathering in large groups. COVID-19, including Omicron, is still very prevalent in our communities, so it is extremely important that we stay the course.”
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