An abandoned face mask rests on the sidewalk along Hewitt Avenue in downtown Everett on April 15. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

An abandoned face mask rests on the sidewalk along Hewitt Avenue in downtown Everett on April 15. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Snohomish County on verge of slipping back to Phase 2

Meanwhile, the county is altering its vaccination effort as demand for shots begins to slow.

EVERETT — Snohomish County, like much of Washington, has less than a week to get its COVID metrics down, or else it could move back to Phase 2, local leaders warn.

That would bring less indoor capacity for local businesses like restaurants, bowling alleys, gyms and movie theaters, as well as limited spectator capacity for sports.

On Friday, the state will let counties know if they’re staying put, or sliding back in the state’s Healthy Washington plan. And on Monday, the governor’s office will announce the moves.

In Snohomish County, chances of remaining in Phase 3 are slim, as case counts and hospitalization rates are above both the state’s benchmarks.

“Everyone knows, at this stage, what we need to do,” Executive Dave Somers said during a Tuesday media briefing. “So if you don’t like wearing masks, and if you don’t like seeing businesses restricted, and if you like being able to go into a restaurant with your friends, get vaccinated.”

In the latest two-week case count, Snohomish County reported 223 new COVID infections per 100,000 residents.

That’s a slight increase from last week’s report of 206 per 100,000, which could show a plateau in new cases.

The health district is also reporting a weekly hospitalization rate of more than 5 new COVID patients per 100,000 people.

To stay in Phase 3, counties must report fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 people and fewer than 5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

That’s unless Gov. Jay Inslee changes the rules for sliding backward, like he did in March, when the majority of the state was on pace to revert phases.

Previously, counties would revert a phase if they exceeded rates for one of the two metrics. Now, they must fail to meet both to be moved back.

Inslee could prevent a massive slide by including benchmarks for vaccination rates or deaths from the virus.

But Executive Somers doesn’t expect any more rule changes, he said Tuesday.

Additionally, this week’s report likely undercounts the county’s case rate, due to issues with the health district’s fax machine.

Each week, health care providers send testing reports to the county, which compiles the 14-day totals.

Some clinics send them via fax.

On Wednesday, the health district’s system crashed, and faxes between then and Monday may be missing, officials said. That caused staff to reach back out to providers and ask them to resend their case counts.

So the 223 per 100,000 figure represents all reports submitted to the health district, as of Wednesday, and will likely grow.

Meanwhile, demand for vaccinations is slowing in Snohomish County as case counts continue to climb.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were thousands of same-day appointments available across two of the county’s seven mass vaccination sites.

Now, public health officials are shifting their focus to reaching those on-the-fence about vaccines, making it easier than ever to get a dose.

Cars line up as their occupants await Covid-19 vaccinations at the Arlington Airport on April 23. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Cars line up as their occupants await Covid-19 vaccinations at the Arlington Airport on April 23. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

In Snohomish County, the vaccine taskforce is now opening appointments at its mass vaccination sites a week in advance, instead of a day or two.

“We know that, for our residents, getting a vaccination takes planning,” county Department of Emergency Management Director Jason Biermann said Tuesday. “For some folks it means having to take off work, getting childcare, a carpool or transportation, so, we feel like releasing the sign-ups a week in advance will give our residents more time to do that planning.”

The county’s Ash Way Park & Ride site is offering evening and weekend appointments, for those busy during weekday business hours.

Outside of mass vaccination sites, the county is partnering with nonprofits and other community organizations to host pop-up clinics, targeting under-served populations.

At the same time, South County Fire and Everett Fire Department staff are going across the county to vaccinate homebound residents.

Homebound residents can sign up for a visit by reaching the county’s COVID call center at 425-339-5278.

This week, another 45,000 doses are coming to Snohomish County, evenly split between first and second shots.

Those don’t include doses heading directly from the federal government to local pharmacies.

Also on Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control updated its guidelines to say it’s safe for fully vaccinated Americans to be outdoors in public without masks, as long as they avoid crowds.

“This is another great reason to go get vaccinated,” President Joe Biden said during a press conference. “It’s never been easier.”

So far, providers have adminsitered more than 500,000 vaccine doses across Snohomish County, and more than one in three adults are fully vaccinated, local data shows.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Security footage depicting an armed robbery at Buds Garage in Everett on Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. (Contributed photo)
Everett pot shop robbed twice; others targeted in recent months

Armed robbers have hit Buds Garage off Everett Avenue twice since December.

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
Edmonds man barricaded in house arrested after 8-hour standoff

Police said he was brandishing a knife and threatening “homicidal violence” on his family.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman who lit her own Edmonds doll store on fire gets house arrest

Connie Bigelow, 54, was sentenced Friday in federal court for lighting her business on fire to collect insurance money.

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Billionaire Bezos wants to bring free preschool to Everett

The Amazon founder’s program would be housed at Everett Station. Admission would be determined by lottery.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

A car drives by flowers placed at a memorial for two pedestrians killed at the corner of 204th Street NE and Highway 9 on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$500K bail for driver accused of killing 2 Arlington pedestrians

Elliott Bagley, 28, told an officer he’d had a couple beers before the crash Thursday, according to police.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lake Stevens proposes cutting ties with Sno-Isle Libraries

Sno-Isle’s director called the move a “drastic and unnecessary action to privatize our shared public library.”

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

Most Read