COVID transmission in Snohomish County remains high but is overall trending downward across the last two months as vaccination demand increases due to booster shots and vaccines for kids age 5 to 11.
“Over the last couple of months it has been up, down, up again,” said Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters during a Nov. 23 press briefing.
“The large trend is a gradual decline,” he added.
After the county reached a peak daily case rate of 492 per 100,000 people in August, it has gone down slowly to the current 352 per 100,000 people.
Previous reports put the peak at 482 cases per 100,000 people, however a recent data update has moved that number up.
“We’d like to see that going down a lot more steeply,” said Spitters.
Hospitals are seeing similar trends, said Spitters, with the number of beds being used about 60 to 70 percent of what they were at the high point.
“I think it’s important for us to take the long view here, which is that COVID is not going to be behind us anytime soon,” said Spitters.
“We’re still at a very high level of transmission even if the trajectory is favorable,” he added.
It is unlikely that this current fifth wave will be the last, said Spitters.
“We will be dealing with waves, hopefully of smaller duration and intensity, for possibly years into the future,” he said.
The public should remain vigilant in preventative measures such as masks, limiting the size of gatherings and keeping distance when possible so that hospitals do not reach a point where they reach their max capacity.
“For the foreseeable future we just have to continue engaging in those commonsense activities,” said Spitters.
Vaccination appointments have spiked up the last couple of weeks as demand has been high for kids age 5 to 11 and for adults to get booster shots.
In the first two weeks of availability, 16.5 percent of Snohomish County kids age 5 to 11 have been vaccinated.
“When you add all the doses up for all the eligible population, 68 percent have initiated vaccination and 62 percent have completed,” said Spitters. “That sounds like a decrease from what we’ve reported recently, but remember we’ve added the young kids into the [eligible population]."
Appointments for vaccine shots for kids age 5 to 11 have filled up quickly in those first two weeks.
“When you have a supply that is one-tenth of the demand, there is going to be some frustration,” said Spitters.
That demand is already calming somewhat, he said.
“As more kids get vaccinated there is less competition for those spots,” Spitters said.
Booster appointments also received a surge in demand. “That’s not unexpected,” said Spitters.
Recommendations were expanded recently by the CDC, he said.
Boosters are meant for those who had their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccine shot more than six months ago or for those who are more than two months away from their Johnson & Johnson shot.
A booster shot is strongly recommended for adults age 50 and up, for those with underlying medical conditions or for those who work with high-risk individuals.
Any adult age 18 and up may get a booster as well.
Spitters said that the risk-benefit analysis show that booster shots will still be strongly beneficial even for those adults who are not at high risk.