Snohomish County won’t be ready for Phase 2 reopening June 1, officials say

Snohomish County is not yet ready to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. June 1 was a possible target date for that, but Snohomish County leaders admitted in a Friday briefing that we are not there.

Phase 2 of the Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” program would reopen most businesses, including restaurants and taverns, hair and nail salons, retail in-store sales, in home/domestic services, pet grooming and some non-essential travel. It also would permit outdoor activities in “small groups.”

At the Friday Snohomish County press briefing on COVID-19, both County Executive Dave Somers and County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said the county is close, but has more to do before officials can apply for a reopening waiver or variance. Spitters said there is still hope that the county could apply “sometime in June.”

There has been significant progress in flattening the infection curve and the number of new cases reported each day is now down to the high teens, both men said, but Spitters told the briefing “we are still not there yet.”

Five things must happen to get to Phase 2:

 

  • The level of coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities must average not more than two a week.
    • County officials say they are making progress.
  • Hospitals must have capacity to handle a 20% surge in new cases; continue daily reports to the state and have a 14-day supply of all PPE (personal protection gear).
    • “We’re in good shape here,” said Spitters.
  • Positive test numbers must continue to decline.
    • The county will add 1,000-1,500 tests a week to the 2,500 currently being given to meet that goal.
  • New cases must be reported within 24 hours and contact with those who also might have been exposed must happen within 48 hours.
    • The county has 30 full-time contact tracers, but needs to add 90 more. New federal money will help add staff.
  • The number of new cases must drop to an average of six per day.
    • Latest numbers show an average of 22 new cases per day.

Spitters was reassured. “I do think we’re not far off but it will still take effort by community to suppress the transmission” of the virus to get into Phase 2, he concluded.

There is good news for the county’s small business and the aerospace sector. With new federal money now available from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, the county has just launched two grant programs.

One is for small business only and applicants can receive up to $25,000. The second is for aerospace companies or Paine Field businesses, who can receive as much as $1 million.

Somers says it’s easy to fill out the application online “in a few minutes.” Here’s a link to both programs: workforcesnohomish.org.

— By Bob Throndsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Replies to “Snohomish County won’t be ready for Phase 2 reopening June 1, officials say”

  1. I see so many people not wearing masks. I just do not get it. Studies have shown that if we all do this simple thing, we will drop our rates significantly. Please Snohomish County folks…wear your masks so we can get more businesses open.

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  2. “The number of new cases must drop to an average of six per day.”

    In a week only 42 tests can come back positive out of a population of greater than 800,000 means it could be sometime in August just to get to phase 2. Still don’t see the fascination with people that have a virus without significant symptoms, setting a number on hospitalizations would be more useful.

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    1. People who are asymptomatic can still pass it on to people who can end up having severe symptoms. As Maggie said above, there are way too many people who aren’t wearing masks.

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  3. I don’t understand why pet grooming is not in Phase 1. It is much safer than beauty saloons for people.

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  4. This is in response to Brian’s posting above.

    Here is the latest on wearing a mask during this coronavirus pandemic. Please note, Brian is referencing 1/30/20 information which is now out of date.

    New information: Tired Of Wearing A Face Mask In Public? New Research Underscores Why You Still Need To, a 5/14/20 article in Forbes. Here is the website link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/05/14/here-is-more-evidence-for-face-mask-use-with-covid-19-coronavirus/#83680621060b.

    The bottom line is ….. “Outside in the open, the wind may blow away such droplets. However, in a store or other inside location, your emitted droplets could end up in someone else’s lungs. That’s why covering your face may be a helpful precaution for others. It’s about realizing that during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic your actions can affect a great number of people. What you do and don’t do can mean the difference between life and death for a great number of people. Let’s not let politics and other agendas mask the real science.”

    Research on this virus is constantly changing and we must keep up with the findings.

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    1. Thank you for the link. I appreciated the opportunity to read the text of your recent article rather than the headline, which acknowledges, “In fact, the concerns are that [masks] may give you a false sense of security and even result in your touching your face more often. Plus, there is the risk that handling your face covering improperly could end up getting yourself infected.”

      So the take away is, if you wear a mask and aren’t a carrier, you are more likely to get yourself sick and spread the illness among your household. I thought that’s what we we’re trying to avoid.

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      1. There are numerous research papers that discuss the positive results from wearing a mask. It’s a simple thing to do for most all people and a small price to pay to get our economy back open. Continuing to attempt to undermine the efficacy of masks in deterring spread of Coronavirus is non-sensical. Here’s a simple research study (recent) published on Nature. Let’s let the scientists help us understand the science and we the people can use that to set policies that are informed. Policies might be varied or controversial or accept differing levels of risk (I myself and a little more open to risk) but the science is not policy…..it’s either proven true and able to be replicated or it is not. Here’s the link to one of many validiated research publications on masks.
        https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0843-2

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        1. I appreciated the larger sample size of the study you shared compared to the study I had seen at https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-1342 but was surprised by the difference in observations involving coughing subjects.

          The study you shared from Nature shows that NOT wearing a mask is okay as long as the wearer is not coughing: “In the subset for coronavirus, we did not detect any virus in respiratory droplets or aerosols from any participants [who did not cough].”

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  5. My comments are questions.
    1. Why is the rule that new cases need to be reported within 24 hrs? Why not immediately? When the test comes back the person and “contact tracer agency “ is notified. Then the tracing starts way sooner.
    2. Why does the county have to wait for federal money to hire tracers??? Why not “ borrow” some of our amazing people at the sheriffs dept or Wa State Patrol? Seems to me that tracing would be easy for a trained officer…
    3. Why are we not being told exactly where the virus is growing??? Are people walking around Downtown Edmonds becoming infected??? Or are infection rates growing in the “ homeless communities “??? Or other specific areas. This is absolutely a no brainer??? This would tell us where to concentrate our efforts… instead of keeping the whole county shut down, come up with a specific, targeted, strategy that has a better chance of success!!

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    1. John Beers, thank you for those great questions. I am interested in all the information and data about this issue, not just the information presented to suit a one-sided narrative. One question I continue to have is, how many of the “positive cases” quoted daily in the news (from a variety of sources) are “current active symptomatic cases“, and how many of those numbers are positive tests due to exposure previously without getting sick, and/or how many positive tests are people who were sick with what they thought was the flu but maybe was Covid, before it was announced in the world and national media? Transparency and full disclosure with all Covid related numbers is what we all deserve to hear, in every report.

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      1. Cynthia,

        “One question I continue to have is, how many of the “positive cases” quoted daily in the news (from a variety of sources) are “current active symptomatic cases“, and how many of those numbers are positive tests due to exposure previously without getting sick, and/or how many positive tests are people who were sick with what they thought was the flu but maybe was Covid, before it was announced in the world and national media?”

        Good question, I don’t think anyone has that detailed a breakdown of the numbers. The problems are that since even the antibody tests are not fully accurate, some insures will not ok these tests so many people don’t get them. Positives can happen with people that had Covid in say Feb if the test picks up certain RNA signals (this is what has caused the second infection concerns).

        I am not aware of anyone that has broken the positives down to symptomatic and asymptomatic, best we can do is figure proven total positives x10 for likely total asymptomatics (random testing from around the country have shown X9 to x85). For a breakdown of the currents I would use hospitalizations plus adjustment factor of x5-12 for current symptomatic and the rest would be the asymptomatic (does not mean no symptom but no to mild). It would not be 100% accurate but is a usable quick estimate.

        Symptomatics infect at a significantly higher rate than asymptomatics (at least that is what experts are currently saying). As the virus progresses in the body its believed that it gets less infectious from day 1 through day 14. Doctors for months have been telling asymptomatic people to go home, take day/nightquil as needed and they can go back to work 7 days after a positive test as long as there was no fever present.

        For Snohomish population of 822,083

        Total asymptomatics would be total confirmed positives plus probables to date 3298 x 10 = 32,980. Highest end study would put it at 280,000 my personal perspective I believe its x30 so around 99,000.

        Current symptomatic would be 40 (hospitalization) might be as high as 200-480. This we have a better read on because if your symptoms are worse you are more likely to look for treatment. Somewhere there is probably a daily accounting of people seeking treatment but I have not seen it.

        Current asymptomatic would be (current active 473 – hospitalization 40) x 10 = 4,330. High end study would be 37,000 I think its around 13,000.

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  6. Thank you Bob Throndsen for this article. I’ve been looking for thorough discussion of data in my immediate neighborhood and community. Strenghtens my resolve to stay-at-home.

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