EVERETT — School children make up the biggest part of Snohomish County’s new COVID cases in the past two weeks.
And for the first time in seven weeks, the county’s case rate increased.
Kids 14 and younger made up 22% of new cases reported Oct. 10 to 23, Snohomish Health District administrative officer Shawn Frederick reported Tuesday during a weekly media briefing.
Local hospitals remain strained, with occupancy hovering around 90%. Last Friday, 24 COVID patients in the county were on ventilators. At least 20 died this month, Frederick said.
Madrona K-8 in Edmonds is feeling the impact. Students are still working remotely after a coronavirus outbreak forced more than 100 into quarantine.
“What happened at Madrona is really not unique,” Frederick said.
Case investigations are still underway for many new infections. So it’s “too early” to know where many newly infected kids were exposed and if they were vaccinated, he added.
The Everett School District has similarly been reporting increasing positive cases since the beginning of October. Sixty-two cases were reported from Oct. 16 to 22.
More than 1,600 new cases were tallied last week in Snohomish County, bringing the two-week case rate from 331 to 351 per 100,000 people, according to health officials.
“If that trend continues again this week, we’ll pretty quickly see our case rates exceeding 400 again,” Frederick said.
Already, 70% of Snohomish County residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a major milestone, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said, although it means “hundreds of thousands” of residents aren’t protected going into what could be a wintertime surge.
Infections are similarly on the rise to the north. On Monday, Skagit County Health Officer Howard Leibrand warned that cases are bucking the statewide trend.
“To put it mildly, this is not what Public Health — or our exhausted health care workers — have been hoping for,” Leibrand wrote.
When asked if there could be a spillover effect, Frederick pointed to residents who commute daily: The virus “doesn’t respect boundaries.”
Officials were also asked about neighboring King County, where people are required to show proof of a vaccine or a negative test beginning this week at bars, music venues and other places.
Both Somers and Frederick said Snohomish County isn’t considering any new rules. They are keeping tabs on the approval process for Pfizer vaccines in kids ages 5 to 11. As the duo spoke to reporters Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration convened a special committee to evaluate just that. The FDA gave the thumbs up hours later.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a similar meeting Nov. 2 and 3.
The White House announced last week that it secured enough child-approved doses to vaccinate America’s 28 million kids aged 5 to 11. On a county level, Frederick said, officials have little insider information about the timeline or rollout of those doses.
They’ll likely be available at Providence’s Mill Creek and Monroe clinics, though. The health care network confirmed its request for Pfizer child-sized doses was approved by the state Department of Health.