Snohomish County could revert to Phase 1 amid spike in cases

The latest weekly tally shows the highest COVID-19 case jump since late April. Wear a mask, leaders say.

EVERETT — Snohomish County could be the first in the state to slip back to Phase 1 of the governor’s reopening plan after a concerning spike in new COVID-19 cases, Executive Dave Somers said Tuesday.

In the past week, the county has seen 42 new cases of the virus per 100,000 residents — the highest it’s been since late April. To enter Phase 2, the benchmark was 25 cases per 100,000.

The county is currently out of compliance for three of five key factors to qualify for Phase 2. Increased activity and a lack of social distancing and mask-wearing are contributing to the spike, local leaders said. Under the governor’s “Safe Start” plan, both county officials and the state Secretary of Health can revert a county to a previous phase.

“A week or so ago, I would have thought it was a remote possibility. I don’t feel that way anymore,” Somers told reporters Tuesday. “Going back to Phase 1 is clearly one of the options that could be in front of us.”

An increase in hospitalizations or deaths would almost certainly lead to the county reverting back to the first phase, he said. So far, those numbers have stayed flat.

However, it could take weeks for that to occur, said Dr. Chris Spitters, the county’s top health officer. On average, one to three people in Snohomish County die each day due to COVID-19, he said.

The latest cases show community spread of the virus is increasing. In previous weeks, cases were mostly confined to specific clusters, which were easier to track.

Social distancing and wearing a face mask will prevent spreading the virus, health experts say.

With the July 4 weekend approaching, health officials are worried large gatherings will turn into “super-spreader” events.

In Stanwood, a house party on June 19 drew 40 to 70 attendees, and at least one has tested positive.

Large gatherings put a strain on the county’s contact tracing, Spitters said. There are too many exposed people to track down, and contact information isn’t always available.

If you’ve been exposed to the virus, you need to isolate at home for 14 days and seek testing, he said.

The health district has been receiving increased reports of large parties and events, Spitters said. Going forward, those will be forwarded to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

“If we do receive reports, each incident will be responded to and handled on a case by case basis,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Courtney O’Keefe said in an email. “The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will continue to communicate with and encourage community members to make safety-focused decisions, and follow all health-based directives from the governor, as well as state and local health officials.”

The spike in cases is not being caused by an increase in testing, Somers said.

The number of tests administered has stayed relatively flat at 2,500 per week, Spitters said. The percentage of individuals testing positive has also jumped, indicating a higher level of infection in the community.

Additionally, no cases have been linked to protests against police brutality, he said last week.

The county has been in Phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan for three weeks.

Going back to Phase 1 would shutter restaurants, retail stores and barber shops, that had previously been closed since March.

Samantha Hill, a spokesperson for Bluewater Distilling in Everett, said the restaurant is urging Somers’ office to stay in Phase 2.

“Restaurants are fully compliant and should not be punished for the spike,” she said in an email. “Going back to Phase 1 would be devastating and would crash this industry in our county.”

On Friday, local leaders announced they would not be submitting an application to advance to Phase 3, which would allow gatherings of 50 people and reopen gyms, movie theaters and libraries.

Across the state, several other counties have also experienced recent spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Last weekend, the governor announced no counties would advance to Phase 4 of his plan, for now. In Phase 4, there are virtually no restrictions on businesses and social activity.

The state Department of Health is asking Washingtonians to avoid unnecessary travel this summer. If you’re going to leave the house, stay within your county or region, state Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said in a Tuesday news release.

“If there’s a lot of cross-state travel this summer, that could spread disease around the state,” she said.

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

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

Rep. Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen kickoff in Everett canceled over fear of pro-Palestinian protesters

The event had been scheduled to take place at the Scuttlebutt Brewing Taproom on Monday night.

After 3 years in jail, Camano murder suspect’s trial delayed again

In February 2021, prosecutors allege, Dominic Wagstaff shot and killed his father, shot his brother’s girlfriend and tried to shoot his brother.

The access loop trail on the Old Sauk Trail on Monday, May 27, 2024 in Darrington, Washington. (Ta'Leah Van Sistine / The Herald)
10 accessible trails to explore this summer in Snohomish County

For people with disabilities, tree roots and other obstacles can curb access to the outdoors. But some trails are wheelchair-friendly.

Everett NewsGuild members cheer as a passing car honks in support of their strike on Monday, June 24, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett Herald newsroom strikes amid layoffs

“We hope that people who live in these communities can see our passion, because it’s there,” said Sophia Gates, one of 12 Herald staffers who lost jobs last week.

A person wears a pride flag in their hat during the second annual Arlington Pride at Legion memorial Park in Arlington, Washington, on Saturday, July 22, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Judge blocks parts of Washington’s new parental rights law

The South Whidbey School District is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the law giving parents access to counseling records for their children.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Gold Bar in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Fire destroys Gold Bar home along U.S. 2

The sole resident was not home at the time of the fire. No one was injured.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.