EVERETT — With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Snohomish County is on pace to slide backward in the state’s “Healthy Washington” reopening plan, local leaders warned Tuesday.
To stay in Phase 3, which the county entered on March 22, the case count has to remain below 200 per 100,000 over 14 days.
“Look at the line, that’s where we’re going,” county health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said during a media briefing. “We still have several months ahead where we’re relying on everyone to remain vigilant and wear their masks.”
Under the state’s plan, counties are individually evaluated every three weeks, with the first check scheduled for Monday.
Going back to Phase 2 would mean less indoor capacity for businesses, including restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and retail stores, as well as tighter restrictions on sports and other outdoor activities.
In addition to overall transmission, hospitalizations from the virus are increasing.
Last week, there were 15 county residents being treated at local hospitals for COVID.
As of Tuesday, the number was 34, according to the Snohomish Health District.
Social, faith-based and sports gatherings continue to lead the rise in COVID transmission, Spitters said.
“I know people are wondering how cases are rising when vaccination rates are also rising,” he said. “I’ll remind you that as of yesterday, 30% of the county had initiated vaccination and 18% had completed it. That 30% of the population … simply isn’t a sufficient proportion to interrupt the transmission of this very-hard-to-contain virus. We may not see a real slowing until up to 80% or more of the population is fully vaccinated.”
This week, Snohomish County is to receive about 45,000 vaccine doses.
Of those, 32,000 will go to mass vaccinations sites and other clinics, while another 12,000 to 15,000 are headed to pharmacies.
With widespread vaccine eligibility coming April 15, health officials are rushing to get shots to older residents while demand is lower.
Through March 15, 56% of adults 65 and older had had at least one vaccine dose, while 34% were fully vaccinated.
People who do not have internet access, need language assistance or have other barriers to online registration can schedule an appointment through the county’s call center at 425-339-5278 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Additionally, homebound seniors can use the call center to reach the county’s mobile vaccination teams.
On Tuesday, the county’s vaccine task force opened a sixth vaccination site. The new clinic at Boom City in Tulalip was offering Moderna shots but will transition to Johnson & Johnson later in the week.
Shots are by appointment only. You can register at www.bit.ly/snocovaccine.
In total, the county’s mass clinics could administer 120,000 shots each week.
“Our goal has been to have more capacity to deliver vaccine than we have vaccine,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said. “Any increase in vaccine we get, we’ll be able to handle.”