Masking up

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


COVID-19 numbers aren’t climbing quickly right now, but they aren’t going down either, Island Hospital CEO Charles Hall said Monday.

As of Monday, there was one COVID-19 positive in-patient at the hospital, though patients come in daily to the walk-in clinic and the Emergency Department, he said.

Since the pandemic began, Island Hospital has hospitalized 125 people with COVID-19 and seven people have died there, two more hospitalizations than last week and one more death.

The situation is “still pretty concerning,” he said.

His advice on how to get numbers down was the same he’s been giving for weeks: Get vaccinated, wear a mask in public spaces, practice good handwashing, get tested and stay isolated if sick.

“We are still in the midst of the pandemic, and people are still getting sick,” he said. “We need to still be diligent, even as it becomes the cold season and people start going indoors. We can work together to protect each other as we go through this fifth wave.”

The hospital is now also administering booster shots for those who qualify, with more expected to qualify for those additional shots in the coming months, Hall said.

Staff at Island Hospital are also weighing the decision of whether or not to get vaccinated, Hall said. Monday was the last day for staff to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and be counted as fully vaccinated by the Oct. 18 deadline set by Gov. Jay Inslee.

By that date, workers in health care workers and several other industries must either be fully vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption to be able to come to work in Washington.

Staffing shortages already facing the hospital could get worse after Oct. 18, Hall said.

The hospital has had to scale back on some non-essential services from time to time as a result.

Across the county, Skagit County Public Health reported 440 new cases of COVID-19 for the seven-day period running Sept. 26 through Oct. 2.

It marked the eighth consecutive seven-day, Sunday-through-Saturday period with 300 or more new cases, and is the most for a week during the eight-week span.

The 440 new cases include both positive PCR tests and positive antigen tests. Prior to Aug. 11, Public Health reported only positive PCR tests among its COVID-19 totals.

Among the new cases reported, 263 were from positive PCR tests and 177 from positive antigen tests.

The seven-day Sunday-through-Saturday period included three new deaths and 25 new hospitalizations across the county.

Through Oct. 2, the county has had 98 COVID-19 deaths and 550 hospitalizations during the pandemic.


– Skagit Publishing staff contributed to this report

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