Safe Start stumbles in Snohomish County: ‘Clearly a possibility’ we could return to Phase 1 if trends continue, officials say

Pat Morris

The words that came out of the weekly Snohomish County COVID-19 media briefing set a cautious tone. Asked Tuesday about a possible return to the restrictions of Phase 1, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said: “A week ago, I thought it was remote… now, it’s clearly a possibility” if cases continue to spike.

Added County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters: “We’re seeing the highest two week rate (of new cases) since late April.”

Also during the briefing, Pat Morris of the Everett-based Volunteers of America said that people in need “don’t even know where to start.”

It’s clear that coronavirus cases are spiking in the county. The health district reports 180 new patients in the last seven days; the county now shows just over 4,000 COVID-19 cases total.

In early June, the county reported a rate of 24 new cases per 100,000 residents in a two-week period, and on June 5 Snohomish County moved to Phase 2 of the governor’s Safe Start Plan. By the end of the month, the new case rate had jumped to 39 per 100,000 people. Spitters warned that the increase is not because of more testing, as some have reported, but is the result of the spreading infection.

“We do not want to backslide,”cautioned Somers. “We need to double down on restrictions.” The county executive mentioned masks, social distancing and no gatherings with more than five people outside our immediate families.

Asked about a return to Phase 1, Somers warned: “If we see a spike and more stress on hospitals, we could see a call for that… it’s clearly a possibility… but all of us want to avoid that.”  County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters simply said: “Agreed, agreed.”

Spitters called the big party in Stanwood last week a “super spreader event.”  Although only one partygoer has tested positive, he said the party hosts do not know the names of many who attended, and the county has no way to trace and contact possible victims.

The county is hearing a growing number of reports of other large parties. Somers said the county sheriff will be alerted about such gatherings, and it is up him to send deputies to investigate.

When Somers opened the COVID briefing, he said some are disappointed, while others feel helpless as the pandemic drags on.

That’s why Pat Morris, senior director of behavioral health for the Western Washington Volunteers of America (VOA), joined the briefing. VOA is launching a 10-person team of COVID outreach counselors, beginning July 13.  They will visit food banks, urgent care and medical clinics to ask people if they need more help.  VOA can offer connections to emotional and mental counseling, rent subsidies, housing help and food assistance

Morris suggests the best way to get details on locations and other services is to call their 2-1-1 phone line, which is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and does offer message service 24/7. You can also visit the organization’s website at

According to Morris, VOA has some generous rental vouchers and subsidies for those who face housing problems. She worries that when the state moratorium on evictions is lifted Aug. 1, her agency will see a large increase if families who need help.

All three echoed the same goals: To clamp down on the virus spread and reassure residents that help, for many issues, is available.

— By Bob Throndsen




  1. Too many are not heeding the advice that we’ve been repeatedly given. This morning I observed two ladies in the street alongside one of their vehicles across from the post office talking for more than 30 minutes; neither one of them wore a mask and they were at most only 2 feet apart. I took a picture of them that I will send to Teresa in case she has some use for it..

    1. I trust that Teresa is smarter than you Ron, and will put the photo you send her in the “circular file”, where it belongs.

  2. People are so self centered. If they could get over seeing this as a political issue or an infringement on their rights maybe we’d be as far along as South Korea by now

    1. Robin:

      You have basically hit the nail square on the head. We are close to 35,000 new cases per day in the country, and the ability to effectively test/contact trace is rapidly slipping away. We are running out of options to tackle this thing.

      This isn’t a political issue and it isn’t a constitutional issue. It is purely a health issue, and we are drag racing to a cliff if we don’t recognize that.

    2. Not sure how many people are making a political statement by not wearing a mask. In the weeks prior to the mask mandate I was seeing around 90% at stores with masks. At my aunt’s party over the weekend of the eleven to attend I was one of three to wear a mask and there is a good chance I will be voting republican in Nov. There were 5 people over 70, there were at least 3 people that are rabid anti-trumpers (and none of them were mask wearers) I don’t believe anyone in the group is a big trumper.

      On wearing masks itself, people please wear a clean mask, been seeing a lot of dirty or worn out looking face coverings the last couple of months. Also don’t use a mask with a vent, yes it is more comfortable but that’s because the vent closes when you breath in to prevent particulates and OPENS when you breath out. Since we are wearing masks not to save ourselves but instead to save others it really defeats the purpose.

  3. Why isn’t anyone realizing that the surge in numbers is just after the protests,re: BLM,
    Instead officials blame a party in Stanwood,

  4. I am baffled by the number of people who continue to negate science and compare people wearing masks to sheep. Since when is endangering the health of others a ‘freedom’ to be flaunted and cherished?

  5. An answer to the why’s…

    While many people “know” this is strictly a health issue, there are other people that are promoting otherwise

    I know of one,

    At least as far back as the 1970’s there have been people promoting divisiveness, some of them being lawmakers using the authority of their office, others being in the media with big following

    Do you remember . . . “Government is the problem”???

    Change happens, and not everyone is pleased with the change…

    I believe there is blow-back from the era of civil rights, feminism, etc

    And, of course, there are the technological changes…

    While not promoting politics or anti-social behavior, Peter Diamandis of Singularity University, does promote – Disruptive Technologies

    combine all of the above and more… welcome to the beginning of the 21st century C.E.

  6. can’t stop the protestors, but you go after the very people who are already following the rules??
    Ron, you are taking pictures of people you don’t know having a conversation outside on the street?? Restaurants are open and people together dining are not sitting 6 ft apart?? That to me is scary for you to actually become a snitch??? You need to calm down and stay inside your home.

    1. I’m with Ron on this one. While I don’t see him “going after” anyone, he does have a point in criticizing people who are NOT obeying the rules about masking and NOT distancing. That is not being anitch” and whether he knows the people or not is hardly the point: they are not obeying the rules, and they are endangering others. Your solution is that he should “stay home”? Mine would be that people should respect each others’ health and follow the rules so we can all be safe, and get this over with. That Ron somehow didn’t stop the protestors is whataboutism, and has nothing to do with the case he brings up.

      We are doing neither:

      Politico reports:Brett Giroir, the coronavirus testing czar, said Wednesday that the United States’ coronavirus testing capacity is at risk of being overwhelmed in some states by a surge in new infections and increased surveillance efforts in nursing homes and jails.

      Newsweek reports: With novel coronavirus cases in Texas approaching nearly 161,900, hospitals in Houston, the county seat of Harris County, are moving patients to facilities outside the city in a bid to cope with the surge in COVID-19-related cases and lack of beds.

      Phoenix’s NBC News affiliate reports: Coronavirus cases in Arizona continue to skyrocket, and the state set another new record for daily cases on Wednesday with 4,878 new cases reported. The state also reported a new high of 88 deaths on Wednesday.

      Washington Post: States with largest case increases over last week
      7-day average of daily new reported cases per 100,000 residents

      The Guardian: US reports record one-day increase in Covid-19

      The New York Times reports: Among the list of nations to which Norway and the rest of Europe will soon reopen for travel are three from the continent that Trump flushed down the toilet: Algeria, Morocco and Rwanda. Canada is also on the list. So is China, assuming it reciprocates.

      But Trump’s America is not, because we are nowhere close to meeting Europe’s criteria for reducing the spread of the coronavirus.

      The Canadian border is close, and a majority of Canadians.

      So yes, folks – let’s get it together, respect and take care of each other by obeying the rules, stop telling others who are obeying the rules to “stay home,” and let’s together defeat this virus!

  7. Inslee’s case counting is insanity, but interesting for social observation of who are the conforming compliant, and who the Karen snitchs are. We’ll get the cases sooner or later anyway, this mandatory mask wearing naively keeps pushing herd immunity further and further down the road, while crushing lives and keeping the pressure on the vulnerable.

    Covid is perfect for herd, the main vectors (clerks, bartenders, waiters, retail, social people) are relatively younger folks who are at nearly no risk, and could block the virus from more vulnerable populations once they have antibodies and get on with living life.

    As of Monday, Washington state has had 1324 deaths. Out of those, 61% are from Nursing facilities. So we’ve lost a total of roughly 516 people in the general populace in a state with 7,614,893 people. The math is easy, the risk trivial. Social distance is fine, want to wear a mask, OK. Case counting is doomed for failure regardless, the only question is how long Inslee or the people let it drag on.

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