EVERETT — The COVID-19 isolation and quarantine site at downtown Everett’s Angel of the Winds Arena is moving east.
The site, which provides a safe place to stay for people who need to cut themselves off from others but have nowhere else to go, will be relocated June 25-26 to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, said Scott North, manager of Snohomish County’s Joint Information Center.
The new site is expected to save the county money while still providing the isolation and quarantine capacity that’s required under Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to reopen the state.
“We don’t know what this fall and winter will bring,” Jason Biermann, director of the county’s Department of Emergency Management, said in a statement. “The Fairgrounds offers flexibility so we can meet our current need and build capacity if necessary to serve Snohomish County residents and our partners.”
Meanwhile Tuesday, the county health officer said there are no signs of a surge in cases – though a report prepared for the state warns infections appear to be increasing at a faster rate across the state.
An analysis prepared for the state Department of Health says current transmission levels in Yakima, Benton, Franklin and Spokane counties will likely lead to increasingly explosive growth in cases and deaths if not contained.
It also concluded the rate of transmission from person-to-person rose slightly in Western Washington over the Memorial Day weekend though not likely due to protests. That so-called R-naught rate had been declining before then.
“It is coming back and coming back strong,” David Postman, chief of staff for Gov. Jay Inslee, told reporters Tuesday. “The modelers are very alarmed.”
Snohomish County health officer Chris Spitters also said the report is “concerning” and a reminder for the public to “remain vigilant” because the situation can change swiftly.
However, he said, in the county, case counts have been stable. There were 94 tallied from June 9-15, and 101 and 99 respectively in the two weeks before that.
“Not withstanding that finding,” he said, referring to the statewide analysis, “locally we have no signal yet of any significant increase” in hospitalizations or reported cases.
The isolation and quarantine facility at the arena, able to house up to 150 people, has sheltered fewer than 30 individuals since it opened in April, North said.
The greatest number of people who have had to stay there at one time was four, Biermann told county leaders during a meeting last week. Like other counties, Snohomish County initially chose a large space based on an analysis that took into account the number of local unsheltered people.
“We haven’t had a huge census, nor have any of the other counties in the region,” Biermann said. “But we planned for the worst case because that was the best available science we had when we stood it up.”
So far, more than $1 million has been spent on the isolation and quarantine facility, and it’s projected to cost roughly $7 million more through the end of the year, North said.
Using the arena has cost the county $15,000 a month in rent, North said. The fairgrounds, however, are owned by the county.
“While we are grateful for the partnership and support of the Angel of the Winds Arena, the Evergreen State Fairgrounds provides us a place to provide isolation and quarantine as effectively, at less cost, and without disrupting the normal operations of the arena,” County Executive Dave Somers said in a June 5 letter to Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas. “As we have done at Angel of the Winds, we intend to have security, medical, and support staff at the Fairgrounds.”
Part of the cost of the facility has been paid by a $1.3 million grant from the state.
The County Council has allocated $55 million in federal CARES Act funding to “Public Health and Emergency Response,” including the isolation and quarantine site.
The county also plans to seek more reimbursement from the federal government for the cost, North said.
Herald writer Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report.