EVERETT — Federal aid to fight COVID-19 is coming to Snohomish County.
Nine pallets of personal protective equipment from the federal stockpile arrived Friday, and hundreds of hospital beds could pop up in the Everett area in coming weeks, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said at a news conference Friday.
The equipment is being sorted for distribution to local hospitals and clinics. On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee outlined updates on statewide resources, testing and results, which he said offered “a glimmer of hope.”
While the statewide curve of new cases each day has begun to flatten slightly, that’s not the case in Snohomish County, said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District.
As of Friday, 912 county residents had tested positive for the new coronavirus, about 100 more than Thursday. At least 23 had died. Sixty nine were hospitalized.
In neighboring King County, officials reported more than 200 new cases on Friday. Earlier in the week, the number of new cases each day was about 100.
The number of cases in Island County doubled Friday.
“For us, at least locally, (cases) are still up,” Spitters said. “Some of this is multiple factors feeding into a daily total, but it’s certainly not stable. At the local level, I don’t see any mitigating or relieving information. I think we just have to see how things pan out over a little bit longer period of time.”
That could change, he said. The daily total of cases reflects transmissions that could have taken place 10 to 14 days ago, he said. People who don’t know they’re carrying the virus or don’t experience symptoms are spreading the disease the most.
“The long-term goal is to reach the point where sustained transmission is no longer occurring in the community because a sufficient proportion of the community is immune — that is, previously infected — and to stretch that out so we don’t drown the health care system,” Spitters said.
Everett’s shipment from the federal stockpile came the same day President Donald Trump told reporters that Gov. Inslee should be more appreciative of his administration.
Vice President Mike Pence “calls all the governors … I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington, you’re wasting your time with him,’” Trump said. “You know what I say? If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”
On Thursday, Inslee thanked the president and vice president for aid sent to the state.
At Everett’s mobile testing site, 736 people were tested for the virus in four days, Spitters said. Results take three to five days and aren’t available yet.
A lack of test kits limits who can be tested for the virus, Spitters said. People have to be showing symptoms like fever, shortness of breath and a cough. They also must be considered high risk — meaning people who are pregnant, over the age of 60 or have an underlying health condition.
The shortage of tests is being felt statewide, Spitters said.
It’s unlikely mobile testing will be expanded in the county if more kits aren’t provided.
Previously, the problem was testing capacity. Then it was the number of sites where tests could be administered. Now it’s the supply of testing materials, Spitters said.
Many high-risk patients live in long-term-care homes, which have been hit especially hard by the virus.
Seven such homes in Snohomish County have at least one resident who has tested positive, Spitters said. Officials aren’t releasing the name of a facility unless the total reaches five or more.
The county is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set up hundreds of additional hospital beds at sites across the county, Somers said.
Hospitalizations have increased, but hospitals are not at “crisis” capacity yet, Spitters said.
On Thursday, Inslee said he might need to extend his two-week stay-home order, which closed non-essential businesses and banned social gatherings.
“A lot of our residents are anxious,” Somers said. “I wanted to tell you you’re doing a fantastic job. The residents of Snohomish County have really been stepping up to the task.”