Participating in Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing were chief recovery and resilience officer for Snohomish County Kara Main-Hester (top left), Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers (top right) and Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters. (Snohomish Health District)

Participating in Tuesday’s COVID-19 briefing were chief recovery and resilience officer for Snohomish County Kara Main-Hester (top left), Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers (top right) and Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters. (Snohomish Health District)

Snohomish County turns a corner on omicron, but it’s not over

Officials expect COVID-19 cases to rapidly decline in the next few weeks. Hospitalizations are also decreasing.

EVERETT — Local health officials say Snohomish County has turned the corner on the current wave of COVID-19 infections. On Tuesday, Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said infections will likely rapidly decline in coming weeks.

It’s welcome news after a tough January.

“It felt like an entire year crammed into those 31 days, with COVID infection rates climbing 10-fold from their baseline in December,” Spitters said at a news conference, adding later: “Nature kind of won on this one … the transmissibility of this strain really outstripped the ability of many proven measures to interrupt transmission.”

Preliminary data from the Snohomish Health District show there were 9,123 new cases reported last week. That’s about a one-third decline from peak infections, bringing the county’s two-week case rate down to 2,975 per 100,000 people. Hospitalizations are down to 165 after January’s record high of 230.

So far, a massive wave of infections driven by the omicron variant has been confirmed to have infected over 50,000 Snohomish County residents. Spitters said that likely translates to 100,000 or 200,000 people forced into isolation or quarantine after getting sick or becoming a close contact.

“That means thousands of employers, schools, sports teams, child care centers and other organizations had to scramble to cover missed shifts or jump into action to identify close contacts and otherwise prioritize and triage their service delivery,” Spitters said.

Whether another wave of infections is on the horizon, Spitters and county Executive Dave Somers said it’s too soon to say.

One University of Washington researcher, Dr. Christopher Murray, made headlines in recent weeks for his prediction that omicron effectively marks the end of the pandemic. Murray leads the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a disease-modeling tool used by officials in Snohomish County and across the globe.

While enticing, Spitters called Murray’s prediction “bold,” especially after instances where “we prematurely declared victory over COVID.”

He said the pandemic will likely evolve into a less-intense endemic, but cautioned that the road to that reality is uncertain, urging residents to continue wearing masks.

“Hopefully it’s the last big wave,” Somers told reporters. “But we’ve been fooled before, so we’re just maintaining our vigilance and preparations if there is a new wave. We’re also turning an eye toward recovery and long term resilience. But I think all bets are off in terms of whether there could be another wave or a new variant.”

Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @yawclaudia.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Walmart Store on 11400 Highway 99 on March 21, 2023 in in Everett, Washington. The retail giant will close the store on April 21, 2023. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Walmart announces Everett store on Highway 99 will close on April 21

The Arkansas-based retail giant said the 20-year-old Walmart location was “underperforming financially.”

Firefighters respond to a house fire Wednesday morning in the 3400 block of Broadway. (Everett Fire Department)
3 hospitalized in critical condition after Everett house fire

Firefighters rescued two people, one of whom uses a wheelchair, from the burning home in the 3400 block of Broadway.

Michael Tolley (Northshore School District)
Michael Tolley named new Northshore School District leader

Tolley, interim superintendent since last summer, is expected to inherit the position permanently in July.

News logo for use with stories about Mill Creek in Snohomish County, WA.
Mill Creek house fire leaves 1 dead

The fire was contained to a garage in the 15300 block of 25th Drive SE. A person was found dead inside.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
New forecast show state revenues won’t be quite as robust as expected

Democratic budget writers say they will be cautious but able to fund their priorities. Senate put out a capital budget Monday.

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Drive to build new AquaSox ballpark gets $7.4M boost from state

The proposed Senate capital budget contains critical seed money for the city-led project likely to get matched by the House.

Ron Thompson, a former resident of Steelhead Haven, places a sign marking the 9-year anniversary of the Oso landslide Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the landslide memorial site in Oso, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘It’s the closest I can be to them’: Nine years after the Oso mudslide

In the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, 43 people died. Families, survivors and responders honored the victims Wednesday.

Prosecutor Craig Matheson gives his opening statement in the trial of Richard Rotter at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington on Monday, March 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
At trial in Everett cop’s killing, witnesses recall chaotic chase

The testimony came after an Everett officer was shot while investigating a robbery Wednesday morning, investigators said.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Pursuing pursuits, erasing advisory votes and spending battles begin

It’s Day 73. Budgets are in the forecast as lawmakers enter the final month of the 2023 session

Most Read