EVERETT — Influenza has killed 33 people in Snohomish County, and the community now leads the state in flu deaths.
Pierce County has recorded 31 influenza-related deaths and King County 26 deaths. Statewide, 148 people have died from the flu, according to the state Department of Health.
The 33 deaths in Snohomish County are more than the previous three influenza seasons combined. A total of 32 people died from influenza-related illness in Snohomish County between 2013 and 2016.
The previous record for flu-related deaths in recent years occurred in the 2014-2015 flu season when 16 people died.
The most recent flu-related deaths included three adults from Everett: a man in his early 80s, a man in his mid-80s and a woman in her mid-90s. There were two from Marysville: a man in his early 80s and a woman in her mid-70s. There also were two from Lake Stevens: and a man in early-90s and a woman in her late-70s.
All had health conditions that made them more susceptible to the flu.
An Everett woman in her late 40s is the youngest death recorded in Snohomish County this flu season. Most of the deaths have been among those in their 70s and up.
Goldbaum said no one knows why Snohomish County is having higher rates of flu deaths than other counties. “I’m wondering if our vaccination rates ended up being lower here than other places,” he said.
There’s also been a record number of people hospitalized this year — 362 — nearly double the previous high of 182 in the 2014-2015 flu season.
Some 16 schools are reporting absenteeism of 10 percent or more with influenza symptoms and 26 long-term care facilities reported outbreaks of people with influenza symptoms, according to the Snohomish Health District.
There are signs, though, of slowing for what public health officials have called the epidemic spread of flu.
About a third of people who came for care at The Everett Clinic tested positive for influenza, down from 45 percent the previous week, said clinic spokeswoman Michele Graves.
At Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, the county’s largest hospital, the number of people hospitalized for influenza has begun to decline, with 19 people hospitalized on Friday.
And after weeks of an emergency room jammed to overflowing, the numbers have finally started to slacken. An average of 260 people were treated daily this week, down from as many as 310 people in one day last week.
“It started during the holidays and it felt like it just kept going and going,” said Dr. C. Ryan Keay, the hospital’s emergency room’s medical director.
“It’s nice to have a reprieve and reset,” she said. “Hopefully, we’re in a safe zone.”
Meanwhile, one more case of mumps has been confirmed in Snohomish County, a man in his late 20s, bringing the total to four. Another is probable, a woman in her early 30s, according to the Snohomish Health District. Both cases are from Lynnwood.
The cases are part of an outbreak that began in King County, which now has 173 cases. Statewide, 349 confirmed and probable cases have been reported.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or email@example.com