COVID

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, local and state officials are urging people to refocus on efforts to battle the spread of COVID-19.   

“We're in this for the long haul. We've been in this now for almost six months,”  Snohomish County health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said last week. “But it's not over, and it's not going to be over soon. We're going to be dealing with this for many, many months to come, possibly even a year or two. So we really have to take a deep breath. Stay with all the efforts. Stay with the program. And keep working together with the long view in sight.”

His plea comes after a surge in confirmed new cases in recent days, reversing a steady drop in cases following a three-month lockdown. 

The county recorded 221 new cases between June 23-29, according to Health District data. So far, the county has seen 181 cases between June 30-July 6, though that data is incomplete and likely to increase due to lagging test results.

“It's bumpy day to day because case reports come in, not based on the day the person got sick but on the day … results were obtained,” Spitters said July 7. “So it goes up and down, but the overall trend has been an increase over the past several weeks, with the last two weeks we've had 435 cases reported over the past 14 days.”

At the start of June, just before Washington started reopening, Snohomish County hit a low of about 20 infections per 100,000 residents. Since then, that number has more than doubled to 52.9. To advance on to Phase 3, the state’s target is fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 residents.

Spitters said the Health District has heard erroneous rumors that multiple positive tests performed on one person would all count toward the data.

“Only positive test No. 1 on any individual is counted as a case,” he said, and subsequent positives are not included as new cases.

Spitters said a main goal is to avoid overloading local hospital capacity. Last week, local hospitalizations were increasing slightly but not near capacity. 

“Hospitalizations usually lag behind case reports by a week or two because it takes people usually a week or two to become sick enough to end up in the hospital,” he said. “But needless to say, we're concerned about that and watching that closely.”

In an effort to bend the curve downward again, Gov. Jay Inslee mandated businesses require and enforce the use of face coverings by all customers or clients. Face coverings are required of employees, vendors, contractors, customers and visitors in the workplace, unless covered by a medical or other exemption.

Customers or employees who worry that a business is not adequately enforcing the face mask order or other Safe Start requirements can submit an anonymous complaint at coronavirus.wa.gov. Violations can be enforced by L&I as a safety and health violation by the employer that could carry a penalty of nearly $10,000 or more.

To the north, a Mount Vernon nursing home is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 among residents and employees, with 21 cases confirmed at Mira Vista Care Center since June 19. 

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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