U.K. variant of COVID-19 found in Skagit County

Continuing to wear a mask in public, avoiding gatherings and getting the vaccine when eligible is the most effective means of preventing spread of COVID-19.

Island Hospital and Skagit County Public Health report lighter demand for COVID-19 vaccine in the past week, but expect that will change on March 31, when more people become eligible under state guidelines.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have remained steady in the state, hovering around 700 new cases per day since mid-February. The numbers have decreased in Skagit County in the last two weeks. As of Monday, there were 34 new cases confirmed in the past week. The prior week, there were 51.

Meanwhile, Island Hospital did not receive more first doses this week, but will receive its allotment of second doses.

Appointments were available for most of last week, said Island Hospital spokesperson Laura Moroney. That is a far cry from the beginning of distribution when self-scheduling would fill up within minutes.

The clinic has administered about 5,000 doses, Moroney said.

Demand is expected to grow again as the next tier of eligibility opens on March 31. That tier includes restaurant and food service workers, manufacturing and construction workers, people with two or more comorbidities, people ages 60-64, those who are homeless and those living in congregate settings.

About 2.8 million doses have been given so far statewide, and the new tier opens to about two million more. The state population is 7.6 million.

Like Island Hospital, the Skagit County Public Health Clinic at the fairgrounds has been filling much slower over the past week.

This means that more people have gotten the vaccine, which is good news, said Laura Han, county spokesperson.

“We’re asking those who have struggled to get vaccinated elsewhere to call our hotline,” Han said.

Public Health is concerned that cases are hitting a plateau at a higher level than desired and that a fourth wave of cases is still possible, Han said.

“You don’t want to get caught in the next wave,” she said.

For those looking for a vaccine, a new state Department of Health website, vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, shows a list of vaccine providers within 50 miles of a given ZIP code. The site also frequently updates showing which providers have available appointments. There is also a hotline, 1-800-525-0127.

Among the other listed distributors of vaccines in Anacortes are Safeway, Riteaid, Walgreens and Family Care Network.

The site lists 189 vaccine locations within 50 miles of 98221.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is now vaccinating everyone age 18 or older living on the Swinomish Reservation, regardless of tribal citizen status. A clinic will be held at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge on March 25.

The mass COVID-19 testing site at the Skagit County Fairgrounds closed over a week ago, but Island Hospital offers tests to those with symptoms through its walk-in clinic. The Anacortes Walgreens offers testing by appointment, regardless of symptoms. There is also a testing site for people without symptoms at Skagit Regional Health at 1400 East Kincaid Street in Mount Vernon.

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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