One-day spike in COVID-19 cases worries Snohomish County officials; ‘large party’ with COVID diagnosis also reported

Dressed in protective gear, Snohomish Health District staff met patients at their vehicles to conduct temporary drive-thru testing in Lynnwood in late April. (File photo by Cody Sexton)

There are new warning signs in Snohomish County’s efforts to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, County Executive Dave Somers and Chief Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said Tuesday during their weekly coronavirus briefing.

“We are seeing some troubling trends,” Somers said.

For starters, a total of 75 new coronavirus cases were reported in just one day. That’s the largest daily number in more than two months.

In addition, health officials are investigating a party of more than 50 people over the weekend. One attendee at that event has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The health district does not know yet why there was a spike in the new cases reported Monday.  Officials are still sifting through the data.  But the one-day increase is the largest since April 9.

In contrast, Spitters said, the county recently has averaged between 75-100 new cases a week. And those past weekly numbers are right in line with state guidelines. Spitters says this new daily number of 75 is “a little alarming,” but he does not know if it shows a new trend. However,  the number of people hospitalized is holding constant, he said, averaging 20-30 people each week.

The county has scheduled more drive-thru testing this coming week in the Everett area (McCollum Park), and in Snohomish. Asked about whether there will be test sites in South County, Spitters told reporters that the testing team is looking into it, but he does not know of specific plans yet.

You can register to take a test here.

Spitters said the health department is investigating the large party reported last weekend that violates the guidelines for public gatherings during Phase 2. The health district says it does not appear that people had worn masks or observed social distancing at the party; it is tracing all the attendees and those they have had contact with.

Spitters would not tell reporters where the party was held, including whether it was in North or South County. “We don’t want to worry people,” he said. “I could give a general part of the county but I don’t see that would help any. We try to honor people’s privacy; if you don’t hear from the health department in the next few days, you don’t have to worry.”

Somers says it appears that businesses reopening in Phase 2 are taking precautions including staff wearing masks, providing social distancing and monitoring employee health.  He told reporters he is not aware of any health safety violations. His personal experience over the weekend leads him to believe that the several stores he was in have done a “really good job” with precautions. He gives business an “A” for effort; a “B” for execution.

The health district is asking people to forward questions or complaints to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. There was one report about conditions at a plant nursery near Snohomish; that has been turned over to the Attorney General.

What about moving on to Phase 3 reopening? Not yet, say both county leaders. Somers’ office has begun to work on that application, but they are still checking the data to see if enough progress has been made. Snohomish County is currently in the third week of Phase 2 and, if the information checks out, could apply for Phase 3 as early as next week. Neither Somers nor Spitters would promise that.

— By Bob Throndsen


  1. Waiting outside for my hair-cutting appointment in Edmonds today, I counted 11 people without masks, and only 3 with masks passing by. Neither of the two other people waiting for their turns wore masks. This news does not surprize.

  2. “The science is clear that when we use face coverings, we limit the spread of droplets being passed on to others when we talk, cough or sneeze,”

    Then why did we wait until the end of June to mandate masks? For that matter why are we waiting until Friday, does the science say that it is not needed on Wednesday and Thursday?

    1. Anthony:

      The fact of the matter is that we should have all been wearing the damn things in close quarters for several months now, and we all know it. We shouldn’t need the Governor to have to direct us to do so – not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow, and not this upcoming Friday.

      Unfortunately, too many people won’t wear them (something something “Constitution”, something something “liberal conspiracy”, something something “I don’t want to wear one”). We were doing okay, now we’ve had an uptick, and the Governor has to respond.

      If people would just do what they are supposed to do, then the Governor wouldn’t need to do what he had to do.

      Now go ahead, get your last word in ..

      1. You missed the point. Not against manditory masks, I am against saying it is because of science in two days. If the science says it was needed it should have been done in March when there was a much bigger problem, how many lives were lost because he didn’t? If it is important enough to change courses now it should not be put off until Friday. I am also against some of the exemptions, like if you are deaf or hard of hearing you don’t have to wear a mask, I guess they don’t transmit Covid. It could be worse there is a county in Oregon that is exempting people of color from wearing masks because of racism concerns.

        1. Anthony:

          With respect to the wearing of masks, the science doesn’t say “it was needed” – that is not the job or function of science. The scientific data merely tells us that the appropriate use of masks suppresses the transmission of infection via aerosol-droplet vectoring. What we do with that information is up to us – but in the final result the science doesn’t care what we do with that information.

          The mistake may have been in a policy decision that encouraged – but did not require – people to wear masks. In hindsight that policy decision was quite likely a failure, as far too few people have adopted that advice. We now have a spike in infection rates, and we are talking about a possible “second wave” when the “first wave” hasn’t even yet run its course (take a peek at Yakima County to see what is going on).

          With the benefit of hindsight we now see that simply encouraging people to wear masks wasn’t good enough – we need many more people to actually start doing that which we all know we should be doing. Accordingly, the Governor today did what he had to do, because not nearly enough of us were doing what we had to do.

        2. “With respect to the wearing of masks, the science doesn’t say “it was needed” – that is not the job or function of science. The scientific data merely tells us that the appropriate use of masks suppresses the transmission of infection via aerosol-droplet vectoring. What we do with that information is up to us – but in the final result the science doesn’t care what we do with that information. “

          This is what I have been saying for months, the science is what the science is, when the government uses “science says” as a prop to support some actions while at the same time ignores it when it wants that is a mistake. Good to see you finally agree.

          “Accordingly, the Governor today did what he had to do”

          This is where you are stating your opinion as fact again, he did not have to do it he chose to do it, unlike in March when he chose to not mandate masks. He was not forced to announce it Tuesday but wait until Friday. He is not forced to mandate masks for counties that are not seeing a spike. What forced him to change the policy on positive numbers from 10 per 100,000 to 25 per 100,000? If like the attempt to contact trace restaurants he bows to political pressure and recinds the order it will be again a choice. Choices are fair game for debate.

  3. A couple of hours ago I heard a respected doctor say on TV that it hasn’t been proven conclusively that the wearing of masks is beneficial. He cited Canada and some European countries as examples of places where not wearing masks has not yielded poorer results.

    1. I was on Everett transit yesterday there was over 15 people on the bus and no way to distance myself. I was the only one with a mask on besides the bus driver.

      1. It’s really annoying when people try to cite Canada as a place where “not wearing masks” is supposed to be yielding similar results to ours. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        Canada’s Chief Health Officer (Dr. Teresa Tam) went public on April 06, 2020 recommending that Canadians wear masks (up until then it was not understood that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus, and she was also then concerned that masks might create a false sense of security). As of yesterday the comparison of infection rates (cases/1M) between our two countries was 7,326 (USA) vs. 2,702 (Canada) – hardly a yield of “similar results” (their fatality rate is also 40% lower than ours).

        Canada went at this thing early, and went at it hard (the border is still closed to Americans until at least July 21). We should have been doing the same as Canada, and our results would probably look a lot more like theirs.

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