The recent numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Skagit County are putting the county in jeopardy of moving back a phase in the state’s reopening plan.
Should the county be sent back a phase at the next evaluation May 3, stricter occupancy limits will be put on restaurants, gyms and other businesses.
County Health Officer Howard Leibrand said at this point it’s unclear what will happen May 3, and he can see the evaluation going either way.
“It’s hard to project ... but we’re going to be close,” he said.
As of Sunday, Skagit County was reporting 193 new cases per 100,000 residents for a 14-day period, according to state data. That is approaching the threshold of 200 per 100,000 as outlined in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington plan.
Severe cases are also increasing, with 13 county residents hospitalized over the past week, according to state data. Under the Healthy Washington plan, counties are expected to have five or fewer hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the prior week.
Counties in Phase 3 must meet at least one of these goals — new cases or hospitalizations — to avoid being moved back a phase, according to the plan.
However, the state evaluates data on a lag so the Department of Health can review it. This means the most recent increases may not be factored into the May 3 evaluation.
Leibrand said Phase 3 activities can be done safely, as long as people practice social distancing and wear masks.
“We’re certainly not going to volunteer to go to (Phase) 2,” he said.
The majority of new cases are still coming from families and households, and Leibrand said the county has seen no significant clusters or outbreaks from reopened businesses. Spring break and Easter encouraged family gatherings and likely contributed to this, he said.
About 40.7% of county residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 29.8% are fully vaccinated.
Through Monday, 4,765 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, 305 have been hospitalized and 67 have died.