Coronavirus Skagit

Skagit County Public Health temporarily shut down its drive-thru COVID-19 testing site Thursday due to an unhealthy amount of smoke in the air. 

The site will be closed at least through Friday, and maybe into next week if air quality doesn't improve, according to a news release from the county. 

Smoke from wildfires along the West Coast is traveling north, and air quality is expected to worsen Friday in Skagit County, according to the state Department of Ecology's smoke forecast.

While air quality in much of the county was listed as moderate Thursday afternoon, Ecology was forecasting that on Friday it will be "unhealthy for sensitive groups," and that Saturday's air quality will likely be worse.

"'Clean air' will become a relative term for most of this weekend," said an Ecology post on the Washington Smoke blog.

In terms of COVID-19, Skagit County has reported 65 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14 days, according to the state's risk assessment dashboard. 

This is a decrease from previous weeks, and the lowest the number has been since early July, according to state data. Throughout July and early August the county had been about 100 new cases per 100,000. 

The number is still far from the state's goal of 25 new cases per 100,000 residents, as detailed in Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan. 

Preliminary data indicates Skagit County's new cases will continue to drop, though it will take the state Department of Health time to verify those numbers. 

Statewide, new cases are at 85.5 per 100,000 residents. 

Through Thursday, 1,054 cases of the virus have been recorded in the county since the pandemic began. County Public Health reports 23 deaths and 94 hospitalizations. 

So far in September, fewer new cases have been reported than in previous months, according to data posted to the county website. 

Thirty-four cases have been identified this month, compared to nearly 100 in a similar period of August.

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

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