COVID1111

The map shows COVID-19 case rates for various ZIP code areas in Snohomish County for late October.

 

Snohomish County broke its record for single day COVID-19 case count twice in the same week at the beginning of November.

As the county goes through the third wave of COVID cases, officials discussed the ongoing pandemic.

"[Nov. 1] was our highest single day total for newly reported cases since the beginning of the pandemic," said Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, during the district's Nov. 3 briefing.

Nov. 1 saw 140 new cases. The record stood for only a couple of days as 182 new cases were reported on Nov. 4.

Spitters said daily cases will ebb and flow but it is a higher spike than the county has ever seen for COVID-19.

The two-week rolling case rate also almost hit a new high, reaching 125.8 cases per 100,000 people.

"That was a small, about a 5 percent, increase," in cases from the previous two-week average, said Spitters.

"Relatively speaking, that is an improvement in the trajectory, suggesting that we're starting to flatten things out," he said.

Although high the numbers could indicate a beginning to a decline.

"The absolute level is still much higher than we would like to see, so there's mixed messages but the bottom line is let's keep bending that curve and pointing downward," said Spitters.

Throughout the entire pandemic Arlington has had 487 cases, Marysville has had 1,011 and Tulalip has had 99.

Hospital levels remain manageable, said Spitters.

"Overall, about 3-4 percent hospital beds in all of Snohomish County," he said. Around 10 percent is where hospitals will get overburdened, said Spitters.

A disproportionate number of new cases are older adults or those in long-term care facilities though, said Spitters, which could mean problems in the near future.

"The increasing case rate in older adults and in long-term care does raise concerns about where hospitalizations will go," he said.

Cases are not at the point where a second lockdown is needed right now, said Spitters, but if hospitals begin to not have enough space that would be in the conversation.

"I think we should be expecting that we can bend that curve down again and avoid that hospital surge," he said.

"If we get more transmission in the older population then we will have a hospitalization problem and the Health District and public officials will have to decide how to respond to that problem," he said.

Spitters continues to emphasize social distancing measures, face masks and limiting exposure to crowds.

"At most we should meet with five people outside your household, and I would suggest even going beyond that to curtail all non-essential activity outside the home," he said.

Gatherings should be held outside if they are being held, although Spitters emphasized no gathering is the preference.

"We need everybody to chip in on this respect," he said.

Face coverings continue to be one measure that helps.

"On social media we've heard that 'the recent increase in cases show that face masks don't work' and that's simply not true," said Spitters. "Jurisdictions that imposed face-covering mandates have had better outcomes. That's true in the U.S. and around the world."

County officials are hopeful more federal funds will come to help after the March coronavirus relief bill (CARES Act) has provided resources for testing and contact tracing.

"We are hopeful that there will be a second round of CARES Act assistance. It's been really essential in supporting all the activities that we've undertaken in Snohomish County," said County Executive Dave Somers.

Somers said federal officials are optimistic about passing a second bill.

"The delegation has indicated that they think there will be another round after the election, and it's really essential," he said. "Not to mention the small businesses it's helped. It's been a life-saver."

While COVID-19 is the big concern, Spitters also said that residents should take normal precautions against the seasonal flu.

On average the flu kills about 30 people in Snohomish County, and right now could be more trouble if it puts additional strain on the hospital system.

Fortunately, no flu outbreak is happening currently, said Spitters.

"There's limited to no influenza activity in the U.S.," he said.

"A lot of that is probably due to the limitations on travel and interpersonal actions we are taking against COVID that are also protecting against influenza activity," he said.

 

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