The most recent COVID-19 data “all but guarantees” Snohomish County will rollback to Phase 2 on Saturday, May 8, local health officials said.
According to updated metrics on Monday, both the COVID case rate and hospitalization rate were above the thresholds to remain in Phase 2 and both sets of data are trending up.
Gov. Jay Inslee and state Department of Health officials are expected to release county-level data according to the Roadmap to Recovery metrics on Tuesday, May 4.
To remain in Phase 3, a county must have the rate of new COVID cases below 200 per 100,000 residents over 14 days and the rate of new COVID hospitalizations below 5 per 100,000 people per seven days. Snohomish County’s COVID rate is about 229 infections per 100,000 people and hospitalization rate recently rose to 6.7.
Island County seems poised to remain in Phase 3 with a COVID case rate at about 100 infections per 100,000 residents and a hospitalization rate at 1.2.
The next review for counties will be May 25.
“If every resident follows the CDC mask guidance and unvaccinated people pursue vaccination as quickly as possible, we could be back in Phase 3 soon,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “Mask up when appropriate and vax up now so we can keep progressing toward enjoying all the things COVID has put on hold.”
If Snohomish County drops back to Phase 2, businesses would need to reduce their indoor capacity from 50% to 25% by Saturday, according to the current state reopening guidelines.
Also, activities such as high school graduations are capped at 400 people with physical distancing and masking enforced. Outdoor events with permanent facilities can have 25% occupancy for spectators, unless Inslee announces changes to the reopening plans.
In Western Washington, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Pacific, Skagit and Snohomish counties were poised to move to Phase 2, according to metrics as of April 28.
Snohomish County health officials are urging people to get vaccinations in order to move back to Phase 3 in late-May.
“The number of vaccines coming into our county has increased recently, which means the stress of finding an open appointment has largely gone away,” Spitters said. “These vaccines are so safe and effective that they’ve virtually eliminated outbreaks in our long-term care facilities. We need all residents 16 and up vaccinated, and quickly, so that we can see that same impact countywide.”
The Health District estimates it can fully vaccinate the about 600,000 eligible residents by late June if demand stays high.
“These estimates all hinge on the community taking their shot when available,” Spitters said. “If not, this could take much, much longer.”
In an effort to reach more people, the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce is expanding hours, adding more weekend and evening appointments, and offering flex clinics that don’t require pre-registration. The first of these clinics that doesn’t require pre-registration is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, at the Arlington mass vaccination site.
More information on mass vaccination sites, including registration links to book an appointment, is available at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov or by calling the COVID-19 call center for Snohomish County from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 425-339-5278.
In Snohomish County, cases rose Monday for the seventh straight week to 229 cases per 100,000 residents.
Stanwood recorded 24 new cases during last week, down from the previous week’s 33 cases, according to Snohomish Health District data released Monday.
On Camano Island, there were 10 cases detected last week, up from the six during the previous week, according to Island County Public Health data as of Monday.
In Island County, the COVID infection rate is now marching back upward, reaching 100.5 cases per 100,000 people from the prior two-week period, according to the state Department of Health.