30 days of COVID-19 cases

Skagit Public Health leadership is skeptical that Skagit County will be ready to fully reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The county, which is now in Phase 2 of the governor’s four-phase plan to reopen the state economy, is in the midst of a resurgence of new positive cases, offiicials said.

“I hesitate to think we will be at Phase 4 this year,” said Jennifer Johnson, county Director of Public Health.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan requires counties present fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people over a rolling 14-day period before the state will consider the application, which will be evaluated based on additional metrics.

As of Friday, Johnson said the county is failing three of those five metrics.

“As a community, we have some work to do,” she said.

The county stands at about 52 new cases per 100,000 people, with a positivity rate of about 3.2% compared to the governor’s goal of less than 2%, according to the governor’s COVID-19 data dashboard.

Inslee’s plan calls for at least 50 new tests per positive test in the prior week. The county is at about 31 tests per positive.

However, the county is performing well in the availability of hospital beds and number of beds taken up by COVID patients, according to state dashboard.

If the county submits an application and gets approved to move to Phase 3, several restrictions on business occupancy and gathering size are relaxed.

In Phase 4, businesses are generally permitted to return to normal activity.

Johnson reminded residents to always wear a mask in public, maintain 6 feet of distance from others and limit gatherings to five people outside your household per week.

“That’s not five (people) per gathering or five per event,” she said. “That’s five per week.”

County Health Officer Howard Leibrand said, based on contact tracing, the health department knows large gatherings are happening.

“We’re seeing people with 20 to 25 close contacts,” he said.

He said he sees compliance with the statewide masking order is improving in the county, and hopefully that will correlate with a drop in cases in the coming weeks.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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