Fewer new cases of COVID-19 were reported in August than in the month prior, but Skagit County is still far from meeting state goals.
According to county data, 237 cases were reported in August, compared to 264 in July — the worst month locally for the pandemic.
"I think we're generally seeing a trend in the right direction," said Skagit County Health Officer Howard Leibrand.
However, he said the one-month trend shouldn't yet be cause for celebration.
In total, through Monday 1,020 county residents have tested positive, 91 have been hospitalized and 22 have died since the start of the pandemic.
With Labor Day weekend coming up, Leibrand said he's worried people will gather in unsafe numbers and create a spike in cases, as had happened after the Fourth of July.
He encouraged people to continue to cap gatherings at five people outside one's household per week, maintain six feet of distance from others and wear masks, even when meeting outside.
According to the most recent available state data, the county was reporting 77.4 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14 days. The goal to move on to a new phase of reopening is 25 per 100,000, according to the governor’s Safe Start plan.
Meanwhile, two neighboring counties are showing fewer new infections. Snohomish County reported a rate 58.5 cases per 100,000 residents, and Whatcom County showed 30.2.
Leibrand said there are many factors that could play into that, and suggested Skagit County's higher testing rate could be identifying more positives than in other counties.
The county-run drive-thru testing site at Skagit Valley College implemented new restrictions Monday, limiting testing to those who live or work in the county.
Operating the site costs $60,000 per week, according to a news release from the county. Skagit County is receiving no financial assistance from neighboring counties, even though about 46% of tests at the site were done on nonresidents of the county.
Those seeking testing are asked if they live or work in Skagit County and are being turned away if they do not, according to county spokesperson Laura Han. On Monday, 17 cars were turned away, she said.
On Monday, 259 people were tested.