Weekly Increase of COVID-19 Cases in Skagit County

County Public Health officials are concerned with a recent increase in cases.

If the rate of COVID-19 infections continues to climb, Skagit County might fail to meet metrics to remain in Phase 3 of the Roadmap to Recovery plan.

Laura Han, county spokesperson, told the American that Public Health officials are worried by a recent uptick in cases.

An average of 12.2 new confirmed infections of COVID-19 were added each day for the first five days in April, a rate not far below the rate of the first five days of November, when the third and largest wave of infections began.

“If we continue with the rate we saw in the last week, we’ll have a problem,” Han said. Seven new hospitalizations over one week would push the county back into phase 2, which would require restaurants, stores and gyms to reduce capacity.

The cause for increase may be twofold, Han said.

The United Kingdom’s B.1.1.7 strain, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is about 50% more transmissible, has been detected in the county.

Meanwhile, a loosening in social distancing measures and other precautions could play a role. The same guidance for wearing masks in public and avoiding large gatherings outside the household still apply. Those fully vaccinated are still advised to avoid unnecessary travel and wear masks.

Washington has reported that 102 fully vaccinated people have tested positive for the virus, although most had mild or no symptoms, Han said.

Risk assessments of each county are set to begin again on April 12, just over four weeks after all counties were moved into phase 3. These assessments will take place every three weeks.

Under the Roadmap to Recovery plan, counties will have to meet the following metrics every three weeks to remain under Phase 3 guidance:

• Less than 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population per 14 days

• Less than five new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population per seven days

Some 3.7 million doses have been given in Washington, which has a population of 7.6 million.

Starting on April 15, all Washingtonians ages 16 and above will be eligible for vaccination, Gov. Jay Inslee announced.

Anacortes has continued to steadily vaccinate the community.

Island Hospital received 600 Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Monday, though appointments filled quickly.

The hospital encourages people to check throughout the week as cancellations are becoming more common.

Walgreens in Anacortes is also offering COVID-19 vaccines and had appointments available by press time.

If supplies continue to arrive, everyone who wants a vaccine will be vaccinated by the end of July, based on current rates, Han said.

By the Numbers

 • Skagit County reported, as of Monday, 4,420 confirmed cases and 66 deaths since March 2020. That is an increase of 56 confirmed cases and three deaths since Monday, March 29.

• Island Hospital saw one more COVID-19 patients admitted since March 29. Total hospitalizations are 51 since March 2020.

• Island Hospital has had no more reported staff infections since March 29. The total is still 15 since March 2020.

Schedule a Vaccine

On April 15, everyone 16 years and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

• To schedule at Island Hospital, visit islandhospital.org/covidvaccine. A message line for people without internet access is 360-299-1367. Island Hospital is only vaccinating established patients and those who live in its service area.

• Skagit County Public Health has kept self-scheduling open throughout the week, but learns about the coming week’s supply on Fridays at 9 a.m. Visit prepmod.doh.wa.gov or call 360-416-1500. The county provides the vaccine at the Skagit County Fairgrounds to anyone eligible, regardless of residence.

• Skagit Regional Health: Get details at skagitregionalhealth.org or call 360-814-6300.

• Private pharmacies in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island counties, including at Safeway, Costco and Fred Meyer, are listed as COVID-19 vaccine providers. Information on how to schedule through these pharmacies and all providers can be found at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

• The Washington State School for the Blind has set up a hotline for people with visual impairments to gain access to COVID-19 testing and vaccine information. The number is 360-947-3330.

Reporter

I cover health, environment, business and more at the Anacortes American. Feel free to send me tips at qinghram [at] goanacortes.com.

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