Snohomish County officials say that local staff will begin to focus more on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic than a direct response.
“For the last 18 months we’ve really focused on a few primary goals: protecting lives, protecting those most vulnerable to COVID, protecting the healthcare system, and doing all we could to support those who were experiencing the economic impact,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers during a July 13 press briefing.
He said the county is moving toward a new phase now.
“Today we’re winding down our response to the pandemic and really focusing on building our infrastructure for recovery,” he said.
Staff will still be ready to respond to problems with COVID-19.
“We have a system in place now to ensure we can adjust and respond to anything that comes our way,” said Somers.
That winding down will include the shutting down of the Emergency Coordinator Center that the county had been using.
“Today marks the 500th day of [the center’s] activation and response to the pandemic,” said Jason Biermann, the director of the county’s Department of Emergency Management.
“We do plan that for the Emergency Coordinator Center, Friday [July 16] will be the day we stand down most of the folks with our center,” he said.
County officials said they are transitioning their efforts toward problems more indirectly related to the pandemic.
“A phase of the crisis that is more focused on recovery,” said Biermann.
Officials said this did not mean that it is safe to resume activities as normal though.
“I want to emphasize the COVID-19 pandemic is not over,” said Snohomish Health District Health Officer Chris Spitters. “We’ve made a lot of progress thanks to the community’s effort to reduce the spread of illness, containment efforts like testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine, and above all, readily available vaccines."
There were a total of 384 new COVID-19 cases in the week of July 5, he said.
The county’s two-week average daily COVID case rate increased from 70 per 100,000 people to 80 because of those cases.
The local COVID rate has been wavering between 60 to 80 per 100,000 people for the last four weeks.
That is the lowest rate for Snohomish County since last September.
“I urge you to remember that COVID is not gone, and still spreading in Snohomish County and elsewhere,” said Spitters. “This increase occurring on the heels of the Governor’s statewide reopening is concerning."
Any potential increase from the Fourth of July weekend is not yet in the data either, so that could cause another increase, said Spitters.
Somers and Spitters encouraged individuals to continue follow social distancing and mask measures if you are unvaccinated.
“If you’re not yet vaccinated, please get vaccinated right now,” said Spitters.
About 425,000 people in the county are fully vaccinated.
“Right now we have two-thirds of the county who are eligible that have at least begun their vaccination,” said Biermann.
There are some individuals who have not come back for their second shot.
“The reality is that it’s never too late to get that second dose,” said Spitters, and those who have already gotten their first dose will not need to restart the process.