Snohomish Health District

Snohomish County logged 77 new COVID-19 cases on Monday — the largest one-day tally since early April.

In addition, Snohomish Health District officials said they’re investigating a large party over the weekend with more than 50 people where one of the guests was symptomatic for COVID-19 and later tested positive. Health officials didn’t confirm the location of the party.

“So now we have over 50 people that the health district is trying to locate and reach out to and advise them about their exposure, get them quarantined and encourage them to get tested,” Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish County Health District, said during a press briefing Tuesday. “It doesn't appear that masks or social distancing were implemented at that gathering. So we are indeed assuming that all those folks were potentially exposed.”

The party was in excess of Phase 2 restrictions that limit gatherings to five people and would be in excess of Phase 3 restrictions that limit gatherings to 50 people.

Also Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that facial coverings will be required in public starting Friday. The statewide mandate means those 5 and older must wear face coverings while in any indoor space or in any outdoor space where six feet of distancing cannot be maintained.

Individuals do not need to wear a cloth face covering in their home when they are only with people in their household, when alone in their car, or when outdoors and people are far apart.

We cannot let COVID-19 spread like it is right now in Washington.So today, we’re mandating facial coverings statewide. pic.twitter.com/CL8MWDvKoo

— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) June 23, 2020

In addition to the spike in Snohomish County, several other areas of Washington are seeing more new cases of COVID-19, such as Yakima County.

Nevertheless, Snohomish County could possibly be eligible to apply for Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” reopening on Friday. However, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said the county is moving ahead cautiously.

“We are seeing some … troubling trends with the numbers, both at the state level and locally,” Somers said. “But we've got some, I guess I would call them, yellow lights in terms of our numbers. And we will be watching those carefully and we keep in constant contact with the health district and looking at the test results.”

Hospitalizations in the county are stable and the infection rate per 100,000 residents has inched up to 25.7, just above the target of 25. On Friday, the infection rate for the prior two-week period in the county was at 21 per 100,000 residents.

“We will continue to do our work to monitor what's going on and try to control and suppress any spread, but I think it does, as executive Somers mentioned, kind of put a flashing yellow light on our progress in the Safe Start reopening,” Spitters said. “And, you know, we may not be proceeding at maximum velocity toward Phase 3. But time will tell in the next few days as we sort through what's going on and also get additional days of data to see if this was just an aberration, or is this a trend.”

Spitters said the health department is confident it can contact all those who attended the weekend party.

“It’s just a reminder gatherings like that are, one, a bad idea, and, two, they're not permitted,” he said. “And second, if you're not feeling well, don't get together with other people. Stay home and get tested.”

Meanwhile, Somers said the county has started the process of developing the Phase 3 application. Island County moved into Phase 3 on June 19.

“If we’re not even close or trended the wrong direction, (and) clearly don't meet the criteria (for Phase 3), then we'll have a decision to make about whether we submit or not, but we'll do that in consultation with the health district and look at the numbers through this week,” he said.

Today, Executive Somers & Dr. Spitters addressed an increase in COVID-19 cases early this week. Case investigation is ongoing. They described the cases as a "yellow light" & reason for caution as we look toward potential Phase 3 application. Watch: https://t.co/BT2FdBjgTi

— SnoHD (@SnoHD) June 23, 2020

WATCH : Governor Inslee Press Availability https://t.co/P5ntSiAFeS

— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) June 23, 2020

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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