Snohomish and Island counties are not escaping the statewide resurgence of COVID-19.
The state Department of Health on Thursday declared the state is now seeing its fourth wave of the virus.
“Current trends indicate the state is in the early stages of a fourth surge of infection, with many similarities to early November 2020,” according to the latest statewide situation report. “With over 70% of the population still susceptible it is critical to maintain firm adherence to masking, social distancing and avoidance of indoor gatherings.”
The report also details that the proportion of COVID variants of concern identified has been increasing. Officials said they are worried because early data shows they can spread easier and can cause more severe illnesses.
“Our case investigations and any scan of social media highlight many of the reasons behind our surge,” Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District, said in a media briefing last week. “There are too many episodes of too many people getting together with friends or family members who aren’t fully vaccinated, who aren’t wearing masks and who aren’t keeping their distance.”
Social gatherings aren’t the only place where cases are growing, according to the Health District. Workplace-associated cases and outbreaks are also increasing.
In Snohomish County, cases rose Monday for the sixth straight week to 223 cases per 100,000 residents — above one of the key metrics used to evaluate if a county can remain in Phase 3.
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 — it most recently rose to 4.7. The state will evaluate each county’s status and announce if it will remain in Phase 3 or roll back to Phase 2 by Monday, May 3.
Stanwood recorded 33 new cases during last week, up slightly from the previous week’s 29 cases, according to Snohomish Health District data released Monday.
On Camano Island, there were six cases detected during the past week, down slightly from nine 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, nearly doubling to 79.5 cases per 100,000 people from the prior two-week period, according to the state Department of Health.
Statewide, COVID case counts and hospital admissions are increasing across all ages, except people 70 and older.
“Vaccination is working, but immunity isn’t high enough yet to combat increasing disease levels. All of us, including people who are fully vaccinated, need to keep taking steps to slow the spread while we vaccinate more people,” said Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist.
Concerns that we are in the 4th wave of COVID-19 infection are proving true. Case rates continue to rise, and are now at levels last seen in January. This isn’t the path that keeps us in Phase 3. #InItTogether pic.twitter.com/IAbMMYK73H— SnoHD (@SnoHD) April 26, 2021
Snohomish County passed the milestone of 500,000 doses last week. About 844,000 people live in the county.
“We now have 1 out of every 3 residents over the age of 16 fully vaccinated in Snohomish County, and that’s pretty remarkable in less than five months,” Spitters said. “Finding a vaccine is getting easier every day, which is encouraging news given the urgency we have in getting eligible people vaccinated. We’ll be working to complete the remainder of the effort on an even shorter timeline, but we also need everyone to sign up and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
In Island County, more than 70,000 doses had been administered as of April 23. About 85,000 people live in the county, and 30% are fully vaccinated.
In addition, the state DOH has resumed the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across the state after recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
The vaccine was paused for 11 days as a precaution after six cases of a rare but severe type of blood clot were reported following administration of the J&J vaccine. Last week, the CDC said a total of 15 cases of these case have been reported, including the original six cases, and all occurred in women between the ages of 18 and 59, occurring six to 15 days after vaccination. No cases have been reported in Washington.