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As everyone gets ready to gather and share a meal this Thanksgiving, health officials are asking people to take measures to make sure everyone stays safe.

Skagit County Public Health reported 400 new COVID-19 cases for the seven-day period running Nov. 14 through Nov. 20. The number has been slowly dropping since a high of 463 new cases from Oct. 24 to Oct. 30.

However, the county reported 10 new COVID-19 deaths for the seven days running Nov. 14 to Nov. 20.

Though the past week is the fifth consecutive week of 400 or more cases, the number is 22 less than the previous week.

With the holidays approaching, Island Hospital spokesperson Laura Moroney recommended everyone get their vaccines or boosters to keep their families safe. She also recommended testing and taking precautions if gathering with people outside of immediate family.

“This holiday season, being vaccinated is the safest way to protect yourself and those around you, especially those who are not eligible to get vaccinated, such as young children,” a post on the state COVID-19 website states. “If you or someone in your family is not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should consider the risk of gathering. Limiting your in-person gatherings will help protect you and your unvaccinated loved ones from becoming seriously ill.”

The post encourages masks, handwashing and staying home if experiencing illness, along with vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer similar advice.

During her COVID-19 update at the City Council meeting Monday, Mayor Laurie Gere also urged people to stay safe this holiday weekend.

“Enjoy being with family and friends, but please follow proper protocol,” she said.

Skagit County has seen high case rates, which is concerning with the holiday approaching, Moroney said.

Overall, the county has had 15 consecutive Sunday-through-Saturday periods with 300 or more cases.

The seven-day Sunday-through-Saturday period running Nov. 14 to Nov. 20 included 31 new hospitalizations.

Through Nov. 20, the county has had 126 COVID-19 deaths and 710 hospitalizations throughout the pandemic.

At Island Hospital, as of Monday, there were five inpatients receiving care for COVID-19. The hospital saw 13 new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients last week. Twenty-five of the hospital’s 43 beds are full as of Monday, though not all with COVID-19 patients.

The hospital continues to run vaccine and booster clinics.

It held its first pediatric vaccine clinic at Anacortes Family Medicine on Saturday. The clinic had 70 spots open, all of which were filled by young people between ages 5 and 11, Moroney said. More pediatric clinics will be held in December.

Booster shots for adults are available through clinics and each clinic has been fully booked, though the hospital keeps trying to find more time, Moroney said. They were able to give 28 more people doses that didn’t originally get a spot last week, she said.

Skagit County will close its COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic at the county fairgrounds in Mount Vernon on Jan. 28, as Public Health staff return to their regular duties.

The county has also announced it will increase the number of vaccine appointments for those ages 5 to 11 on Dec. 1, but will stop taking appointments for booster shots on Thursday.

“After nearly a year and a half of providing critical pandemic response services to our community, it’s time for our staff to shift and refocus on the many other responsibilities that fall on Public Health,” Director Jennifer Johnson said in a release.

County spokesperson Danica Sessions said the county has been offering these critical services longer and more consistently than most of its neighbors.

She said county leadership is discussing whether the county will continue to do some testing and vaccination after fairgrounds site is closed.

It is likely that vaccinations will be given at the Public Health office, but plans for testing are unclear, she said.

– Skagit Publishing staff contributed to this report.

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