COVID briefing: ‘Sigh of relief’ as Snohomish County gets rollback reprieve

Snohomish County gets a reprieve. There is no rollback to Phase 2 COVID restrictions for the county; in fact, no rollbacks statewide.  That’s the news from Gov. Jay Inslee, who says all counties will stay where they are for the next two weeks. That means shopping, dining, outdoor recreation all stays where it is; we are holding in what is our new normal.”

“Absolutely, we’re breathing a sigh of relief,” County Executive Dave Somers told reporters at this week’s COVID briefing Tuesday. “The pause is very helpful.” The county learned of the reprieve just before the governor made his announcement. That pause comes after state health officials ran the numbers, which show the fourth wave of coronavirus infection “appears to be at a plateau.” Inslee said.

The state looked at two key statistics. One is the new case rate which, in Snohomish County, rose just six cases to an average of 229 per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. That’s a slowdown all health officials had hoped to see.  The other metric is the rate of hospitalizations and that now sits at just over 7 per 100,000 residents — above the goals but not by much. County Chief Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters says there has also been a dramatic decline in the weekly count of COVID deaths. County numbers show three in the most recently reported week in mid-April.

Spitters says the reprieve is also “a call to action” and that efforts to push vaccinations must redouble. Forty-three percent of county residents have had a first dose of vaccine, but only 30% are fully protected. When compared by age, the numbers show a stark difference:

There is still also some disparity by ethnicity and race:

Spitters said the vaccination of Hispanic residents, which has lagged, is now showing a strong surge but the group still trails all others. The county and state goal is still to vaccinate at least 80% of residents as a step toward herd immunity, and Spitters believes the county will reach that level. In addition, he said, the Pfizer vaccine should be available to children as young as 12 within a week or two. The county continues to see more and more cases; what officials call a ‘’substantial risk” in people between 40 and 59 years old; with increasing cases among those in their 20s.

At the same time, the number of people seeking vaccines has dropped significantly.

Jason Biermann

Jason Biermann, county emergency services director, told reporters that one mass vaccination site scrambled over the weekend because the 600 people they expected did not show. Biermann says with help from the media and community groups, they administered all doses; not one was wasted. It’s especially problematic because once the Pfizer vaccine is thawed, it must be used quickly.

The mass vaccine sites are adapting to the lower turnout by offering what they call “flex choice.”As long as there is enough vaccine, county sites will offer shots to anyone who shows up, with or without a reservation. They will also extend vaccine hours into the evening.  This weekend, the vaccine sites at Edmonds College and at Boom City on the Tulalip Reservation will be open Saturday; the Ash Way location will be open Saturday and Sunday for anyone. Biermann urges those who have had trouble finding a site to call the vaccine hotline at 425-339-5278 for help. “We don’t want reservations to be a barrier,” said Biermann.

Spitters admitted that studies show that 10-20% of people “may end up being a hard ‘no’ to vaccine” but urged people to “take that shot and let’s move Snohomish County forward.”

— By Bob Throndsen

 

7 Replies to “COVID briefing: ‘Sigh of relief’ as Snohomish County gets rollback reprieve”

  1. Serious question for Dr Spitters. Will this vaccine impart immunity and prevent me from getting, spreading, or transmitting the virus?

    Or is it just a genetic switch delivered by messenger RNA that may, at best, reduce my symptoms?

    And if I do take this shot as you say, can it be turned off?

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  2. “The county and state goal is still to vaccinate at least 80% of residents as a step toward herd immunity, and Spitters believes the county will reach that level.”

    Since the shot does not prevent you from getting Covid just prevents you from getting the severe symptoms how can it ever be used as a metric to achieve herd immunity? Herd immunity seems will only come as a set number of people get and get over Covid.

    By the way said as a person that has already had both shots and wears masks indoors.

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  3. Anything an individual can do to either prevent transmission or lessen symptoms for himself or otheres is a good thing to do. Most of the rest of this debate is just silly polarized political nonsense; often presented as Science. I’ve had two Pfizer shots and will jump at the chance to take any and all boosters as they develop.

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    1. Then stop implying that getting the shot will do anything for others because it doesn’t. It can only lesson your symptoms. Follow the science. The worst thing you can do is take that shot thinking you’re safe and pass the virus to someone else.

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  4. If the shot does nothing more than prevent you from having serious symptoms (as you indicate in your comment) like coughing and sneezing into the air to spread the virus germs; it is doing something for others; making your statement patently untrue at worst and amazingly ignorant at best. According to the main scientist in this whole thing (Dr. Fauci), the vaccine makes it quite likely you will be either virus free or have much lesser symptoms for an as yet unknown period of time. Thanks for making my point for me regarding this.

    I’m currently in Arizona where they just announced that deaths from the virus are way down now but new cases among the very young and middle aged are way up and tending to be way more serious than before. These are also the people who are tending to refuse to get the shots or think the shots aren’t necessary for them. It could be that a variant has arrived that is more prone to attack young people. My question to you is, do you think these people are smart not to get the shot that will probably prevent a long lasting and nasty infection? That would seem a little stupid to me but we are free to be stupid if we so choose.

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  5. So, if both the former and current presidents and both houses of Congress are pushing the vaccines, exactly how is this political? Which political party is opposing? Are there ANY actual groups opposing? Might be a freedom issue where certain groups are simply basing their decision on other factors?

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