Snohomish County Health District. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Snohomish County Health District. (Sue Misao / Herald file)

Health district reports 18 COVID-19 outbreaks in the county

The locations, ranging from construction sites to salons to banks, combine for 43 virus infections.

EVERETT — A bank, a restaurant and a retail shop, as well as five long-term care homes and four construction sites, all in Snohomish County, are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, the health district reported Monday.

Since mid-July, at least 18 locations, including two adult family homes, a salon and a food processing plant have had outbreaks — which occur when tracers can connect two or more cases to one place or event. The outbreaks combine for at least 43 COVID-19 cases. The Snohomish Health District does not disclose identifying information for businesses experiencing outbreaks.

Starting in June, the spike of new COVID-19 cases has largely been fueled by younger people expanding their social circles while not wearing masks.

But recent data shows you can get COVID-19 just about anywhere.

In the latest two-week breakdown, about one quarter of new infections came from random community transmission. In that same time frame, 40% of people testing positive got the virus from a friend, roommate, family member or other close contact.

Investigations for another quarter of the new cases are pending.

In the same two week period, the county is reporting about 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents. When the county entered Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, that figure was in the low 20s.

To prevent spreading the virus, wear a mask, maintain a small social circle and socially distance whenever possible, health experts say.

Across the state, infections are rising in people age 40 and over, while they flatten with younger people, according to a report last week from the Department of Health.

That’s a dangerous trend, health experts say.

The risk of being hospitalized, or dying from the virus, is much higher for older individuals.

Cases are rising fastest in people 70 and older, according to state data.

“We expect that if the increase in cases in these older age groups continues unabated, this will result in an increase in hospitalization and deaths,” the report says.

At the same time, Inslee’s lifting a months-long ban this week on visitations at long-term care facilities.

On Wednesday, a new four-stage reopening plan goes into force for about 4,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes. It sets out criteria for holding in-person visits, taking residents on trips outside facilities and hosting group activities with allowable activities increasing with each phase.

In Phase 1 – which will apply to care facilities in Snohomish County – residents can have outdoor meetings twice daily, with up to two visitors per resident, as well as window visits. Indoor visits are only allowed in “compassionate care situations,” such as end-of-life circumstances. All in-person visitors must wear facial coverings and be screened for symptoms beforehand.

From mid-July to Aug. 1, there were at least 25 COVID-19 cases linked to long-term care homes in the county.

To move forward in the phased reopening, a facility must go at least 28 days without a resident or staff member testing positive for COVID-19 and have at least a 14-day supply of personal protective equipment on hand. And the local number of cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks must meet a certain threshold — fewer than 75 for Phase 2; fewer than 25 for Phase 3; and fewer than 10 for Phase 4.

Meanwhile, the spike in infections for young people, which started in June, is starting to flatten. That’s causing the state’s overall case count to slow.

Meanwhile, stricter guidelines for gyms and fitness centers went into effect Monday.

Facilities in counties in Phase 2 and 3 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan must now provide 300 square feet — about 17 feet — of distance between those working out. The number of people allowed in gyms, fitness facilities and fitness classes will be limited by their size.

However, tanning beds and courts for squash and racquetball will be closed.

Wedding receptions are also prohibited starting this week. Ceremonies, both religious and secular, are still allowed with the maximum indoor occupancy set at 20%, or up to 30 people, whichever is less. Similar limits apply to funerals.

Inslee re-imposed those restrictions to help clamp down on the virus’ spread.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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