Through connections, outbreaks spike in Snohomish County

There are 13 active clusters, up from three last week, as the COVID-19 case count continues to rise.

EVERETT — In one week, the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Snohomish County jumped from three to 13, the health district reported Friday. And cases continue to rise.

An outbreak consists of any two cases that are linked through a place, event or social circle. The outbreaks reported this week are connected to three adult family homes, three child care companies, a law firm, local government, a long-term care home, a manufacturer, a retail store, a shelter and a social gathering, according to the Snohomish Health District report. In all, 45 cases have been linked to the outbreaks.

“With the current level and trajectory of transmission in Snohomish County, it is important to take action to stop the spread,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, the county’s top health officer, in a news release.

In the past two weeks, there have been 80 new cases per 100,000 county residents — nearly four times the benchmark to enter Phase 2 of the governor’s four-phase reopening plan.

At the same time, the health district is still struggling to reach people after they test positive for the virus. Tracers are reaching just half of new cases within 24 hours of a positive result. The figure to enter Phase 2 is 90% in that time span.

About 40% of the new cases are acquired through a close contact.

Spitters has said small gatherings of five to 15 people are fueling the recent surge in cases.

New infections are also continuing to skew toward younger people.

People ages 20 to 29 have become the most likely to be infected with the virus. The number of cases for young people ages 15 to 19 also doubled in the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have not increased. But hospital capacity is shrinking, likely due to relaxed restrictions on elective surgeries and procedures.

Additionally, Spitters warned the virus could spread to older generations, who are more likely to experience worse outcomes.

This week, the health district bolstered testing capacity at its McCollum Park site in south Everett.

Now, 250 to 300 people can be tested each day.

Next week, testing will be offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

Tests are by appointment only. To qualify, patients must be experiencing symptoms like a fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, runny nose, congestion or a new loss of taste or smell.

Additionally, tests are available to anyone exposed to someone who tested positive, or who lives in a shelter, group home or assisted living facility, works somewhere with a confirmed case, works in a field with higher risk of infection like health care or law enforcement, or is part of a racial or ethnic group disproportionately impacted by the virus.

To schedule one, visit www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.

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

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