The state has again skipped Skagit County, Island Hospital and Skagit Regional Health in its allotment of COVID-19 first-dose vaccine this week, making it two straight weeks that requests have gone unfilled. All three did receive a second dose supply to ensure those got the first will get the second within the recommended time.

Laura Han, county spokesperson, said the county has not heard from the state on when first doses might be available again, but that the state has “signaled that allocations will get better in the near term.”

Island Hospital spokesperson Laura Moroney said the hospital hopes for more first doses the first week of March. While it received none of the 500 first doses it requested, it is scheduled to give 193 second doses this Friday.

In other news, Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington plan is now official for this area, bringing some relief to local businesses that have faced severe restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The change means more inside restaurant dining and more leeway for workouts in gyms and the local pool.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Skagit County met state health metrics to move into the next phase of the state plan to help reopen safely.

Some restaurants in Anacortes, such as Anthony’s, Bob’s Chowder Bar and the Rockfish Grill were already offering 25% capacity via the plan’s “open-air” guidance, where one or more walls had to allow airflow and meet carbon dioxide measurements.

Nick Calise of Nonna Luisa Ristorante told the American that locals were ready to get out of the house, and the restaurant had a good turnout for Valentine’s Day.

Indoor seating adds options for 5th Street Bistro, which was doing take-out and room service only, said manager Alia Rossi.

Dad’s Diner announced that it will re-open again on Wednesday at 8 a.m. for indoor service, and Paris Restaurant plans to return to indoor dining this Thursday.

A’Town Bistro is aiming for March 3 after some renovation.

The phase change means fitness centers also can open at 25% capacity.

Fidalgo Pool and Fitness Center will have more room for its patrons, though reservations will still be required through the website. Fifteen people can use the gym in 45-minute slots.

The pool will start an aqua aerobics class starting Monday, pool Executive Director Mitch Everton said. Class size will be limited to eight people, rather than the usual 35 to 40, but more sessions may be added if attendance is good, Everton said.

Lap swim and water walking capacities will not be affected by the phase change, but the girl’s swim team and TAC practice is starting up again in the evenings. Members of the public may reserve pool lanes for use between 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through fidalgopool.com.

Soar Fitness and Thrive Community Fitness did not return requests for comment by press time.

Now that the county, as part of the four-county North Region, has met metrics to get to the second phase, the question is what happens next.

No phase 3 has been made yet, even though all regions in the state have now been advanced to phase 2. Assessments come every two weeks, and the state has said that a region must continue to meet three out of four metrics to stay in phase 2. If it doesn’t, the region would return to the more restrictive phase 1.

“Vaccines are coming, and we urge everyone to continue following basic precautions regardless of the activities you’re undertaking to ensure that you are healthy when you become eligible for a vaccine,” county Public Health Director Jennifer Johnson said in a release.

The county will shut down its mass COVID-19 testing at the Skagit County Fairgrounds on March 14, as it transitions to a vaccine distribution center. The county tested more than 43,000 individuals since it began in April.

“It is time for Public Health to shift focus and resources to vaccine roll-out,” Johnson said.

When those vaccines will come remains to be seen.

The state is still focused of vaccinating those over age 65 and those over age 50 who live in multigenerational homes.

The state Department of Health announced Friday that 1 million doses of vaccine have been given across the state, including second doses. Washington’s population, based on 2019 census estimates, is just above 7.6 million.

The state’s goal of vaccinating 45,000 people a day has still not been reached, as nationwide demand for the vaccine far outnumbers the supply. The state was averaging over 26,000 people a day, the state Department of Health announced last week.

SCHEDULE A VACCINE

• Island Hospital is not scheduling appointments this week due to lack of vaccine.

• Skagit County Public Health’s scheduling will open at noon Saturday if doses arrive. Visit prepmod.doh.wa.gov or call 360-416-1500. The county is providing the vaccine at the Skagit County Fairgrounds to anyone eligible, regardless of residence.

• Skagit Regional Health is not scheduling due to inconsistent supply, but offers a waitlist to receive the vaccine either in Mount Vernon or Smokey Point. Visit skagitregionalhealth.org or call 360-814-6300.

• SeaMar in Mount Vernon offers first-come, first-served vaccines without an appointment when supplies are available. Check seamar.org/covid-vaccine.

• Multiple private pharmacies in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island counties, including Costco and Fred Meyers in Burlington, are listed as COVID-19 vaccine providers, but availability has also been an issue.

Information on how to schedule through these pharmacies and all providers can be found at prepmod.doh.wa.gov. Appointments through Haggen and Safeway specifically can be found through mhealthappointments.com/covidappt.

• 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.

COVID-19 reopening status check

The North region, which includes Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan, and Island counties, met metrics to move on to phase 2. It must meet three out of four metrics on Feb. 25 in order to remain in phase 2 on March 1. Phase 3 guidelines have not yet been announced.

Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100k: -32% (-10% needed)

Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100k: -17% (-10% needed)

Average 7-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds: 53% (goal is under 90%)

Average 7-day percent positive of COVID-19 tests: 6% (goal is under 10%)

• Skagit County reported, as of Monday, 4,033 confirmed cases and 57 deaths. (Up by 52 confirmed cases and 4 deaths since last Monday)

• Island Hospital did not see another COVID-19 patient admitted in the past week, so the total remains at 42 since March.

• Island Hospital has not reported any more staff infections since last Monday. The total remains at 14 since March.

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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