EVERETT — The vast majority of Snohomish County residents who have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the year have been unvaccinated, newly released health data show.
That number is almost 93%. Since the end of January, there have been 137 COVID deaths in the county. Of those, 127 were unvaccinated.
No fully vaccinated people died until June. One of the 18 people who died that month was vaccinated. Four of the 14 in July were vaccinated. And five were vaccinated of the 27 people who died in August — the most deaths since February.
The cumulative total of COVID-19 deaths in the county since the pandemic started in 2020 was 709 as of Monday, according to the Snohomish Health District.
Dr. Ryan Keay, emergency department medical director at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, said Monday the hospital has between 70 and 80 patients with COVID-19. Of those, 20 are in the intensive care unit. That’s down from over 30 there a couple of weeks ago. That led to some staffing challenges, she said.
Between 10 and 16 COVID-positive patients are admitted each day, Keay said.
“We rarely have vaccinated patients in our ICU — most of them are unvaccinated,” she said during a Monday news briefing. That demonstrates that “vaccinations, although you may have a breakthrough infection, are highly effective at preventing severe illness.”
As of last week, 74% of those age 12 and older in the county have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine; 68% are fully vaccinated. About 10,000 vaccines are administered each week, the Snohomish Health District reported.
The most rural areas of the county are also the least vaccinated. ZIP codes 98241 in Darrington, 98252 in Granite Falls and 98294 in Sultan were all just over 50% fully vaccinated as of Sept. 12, according to a health district report. Arlington’s 98223 was 54% vaccinated. Monroe’s 98272 was 56% vaccinated and Snohomish’s 98296 was at 59%.
South Everett’s 98204 was the least vaccinated of the city’s four ZIP codes, at 59%.
Meanwhile, 98258 in Lake Stevens was 89% vaccinated and Bothell’s two ZIP codes were each at 80%.
Those areas with the lowest vaccination rates also had some of the highest case rates in the county from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11.
White residents were also the least likely to be vaccinated, according to health district data. As of Sept. 12, about 60% of the eligible white population had received at least one dose, while 77% of eligible Black residents and 82% of eligible Asian residents had initiated vaccination.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for certain groups six months after their second dose. This includes adults over 65, adults in long-term care facilities and people 50 to 64 who are at high risk of severe illness due to underlying health conditions.
That means thousands of Snohomish County residents may now be eligible for booster shots. The health district recommends those eligible reach out to their health care provider or pharmacy for more information.
Providence gets two or three COVID patients transferring from other hospitals every day, Keay said. In one case, someone from Alaska recently came to Everett after reaching out to 20 other hospitals for care.
“We’ve been close to crisis standards of care in Everett,” she said. “… This is not a position any region or hospital wants to be in. And it’s something you prepare for and you train for and you do drills for, and you have to remember there are people making decisions about people’s lives. That’s a really hard place to be.”
Providence opened a limited command center to deal with capacity issues as COVID-19 strained the hospital system, hospital spokesperson Cheri Russum said. Throughout the county, hospitals were treating 78 COVID-19 patients Monday. That is down from over 100 earlier this month. Of the 78, 15 were on ventilators.
“The health care system prior to COVID was already full and it just sort of brought us to that brink,” Keay said, adding that staffers in her unit are exhausted.
Gov. Jay Inslee asked the federal government last week for help staffing hospitals and long-term care facilities strained by the pandemic.
Case counts in Snohomish County, like the state’s other largest counties, exceed the peak of last winter. But they show signs of flattening or declining, according to a state Department of Health report. During the two-week period from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11, 453 cases were reported for every 100,000 residents, according to the health district. That’s down from a high of 475 weeks earlier, but still much higher than just about any other point in the past 18 months.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.