Snohomish County sees spike in COVID cases as Omicron takes hold

Snohomish County reported an all-time high in new COVID cases in the week leading up to Christmas — a total of 2,719 new cases from Dec. 19-25, more than at any other time in our two-year pandemic.

That’s 10 times more new cases than were reported in June this year. The chart below tells the story.

There appear to be three reasons for the spike. The Omicron variant spreads more quickly than any variant so far. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) predicted that Omicron – which was just identified last month – would be the prevalent strain in the U.S. by Christmas. Added to that, Omicron also seems to be able to get past the immunity given by vaccines or past infection. Those issues, combined with more people indoors in bigger crowds, are spiking new cases, according to the Snohomish Health District.

The health district says Omicron’s impact on the case count is “not unexpected,” though Chief Health Officer Dr Chris Spitters says it appears it is spreading “maybe faster than we’d hoped.”  The health district does not expect to see Omicron’s full impact for another week or more – after all the holiday gatherings.
But so far, Omicron infections do not seem to be making most patients severely ill. The spike has not meant more patients hospitalized or more deaths. Data from the county shows a continued decline in hospital admissions, a slight drop in the number of COVID hospital patients on ventilators, and weekly deaths ranging between four and 16, as they have since August.

Dr. Chris Spitters

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), based at the University of Washington, has data that suggests a new peak in hospitalizations will not hit until mid-February and run through mid-March at a level slightly below the peak of the last wave.

This week, the Washington State Health Department again eased COVID restrictions following CDC changes.

CDC COVID recommendations:

  • People who test positive but show no symptoms:
    • can cut quarantine from 10 days to five days.
    • After five days, they should still wear a mask around others.
    • That includes those unvaccinated or those who have not had a booster shot.
  • People vaccinated and had a booster shot:
    • do not need to quarantine
    • should wear masks for 10 days.
  • People in doubt about their experience:
    • should get tested five days after exposure
    • continue to wear masks until test results are known.

This week, weather has put a crimp in the ability to get tested or vaccinated. Both of the county testing sites, Ash Way Park and Ride in Lynnwood and the Longfellow Building in Everett, are closed until after the first of the year. Ash Way will reopen Sunday, and Longfellow on Monday.

Another complication in getting a rapid COVID test comes Dec. 31 when the CDC will no longer approve one particular rapid test. It urges that providers switch to other rapid tests, which should give more accurate results.

Click here for the latest on testing, vaccinations and other test and vaccine providers.

Dr. Spitters repeated what he has said every week for almost two years: “We really need people to get vaccinated and boosted, and to focus on doing all of the prevention measures consistently and correctly.”

Despite that advice, after two years living in a pandemic, after 78,000 COVID cases and 841 coronavirus deaths in the county, and a year after vaccinations began, one in every four Snohomish County residents still has not started to get the vaccine.

— By Bob Throndsen

  1. Enough…Please listen to Dr Spitters. Please stop with the dieing. please stop with talk of streateries and restaurants and bars. I believe much of this is coming from all of this…No masking we can see people not masking at our markets every where. Why won’t the city of Edmonds do something about this? Where is the concern for yourselves and your children if you die. Or if they do. The more we feed this thing the more that variant is going to mutate I would imagine…you want a ghost town? Its not that far fetched.

  2. So let’s close the streateries because they’re ugly and someday, somebody might drive into one (far more dangerous than 2,719 new cases); let’s not ask for vaccination proof; and masks – well, we all know they don’t work. And why get vaccinated when it’s only an experimental vaccine and means giving in to the libs and the hoax?

    1. Nathaniel, with all due respect, I agree with a couple of your points, but please believe me, MASKS do work. A clean mask is one of your best options.

  3. Because we are social people.
    Because masks DO work.
    Because the vaccines have saved countless lives and lessened the severity of disease and it’s long term sequelae.
    But mostly because we love our family, friends and neighbors.

  4. Maybe it is spreading faster because it is the holidays; stores are very crowded; people are out and about more than last year celebrating. Last year we saw very different restrictions (no not saying going back to that just an observation) And a big one; people who think wearing a mask just over the mouth and not their nose is OK because its hard to breath; excuse me but your nose is where they test you so it a place that we find the virus; please cover it up. And to those of you who think hugging people not in your family bubble is ok; well let’s think that one over as well. So things have changed a lot the past several months. Just getting vaccinated is not enough; everyone needs to more attuned to what we are doing.

  5. So we all need to get tested to see if we have a virus that can only be detected by testing ? And if one gets it , it is less critical than the seasonal flu ( more like a cold according to the CDC gal ) .
    Fauchi, the CDC, NIH, U.W. state and county health depts. have moved the goal posts so many times, their cred is in the dumpster and they wonder why anyone would not believe them ?

  6. It’s at least a year overdue to start reading the doctors and scientists who have been banned. The others have been wrong for two years, with no end in sight. I’ll just let the last paragraph stand up to history.

    1. In reading this bill, I don’t see anything about inoculating those who are isolated and/or quarantined. Perhaps you could point to that section? — Teresa

      1. I’ll let Matt answer but when I read through it:
        1. This is quite disturbing. The path to forced quarantine is in work.
        2. In the last bullet of the bill it defers to (among other things) state or federal executive orders that may include vaccination requirement.
        If the stated bill was put in place by law then it would take just one signature on an executive order from our governor or our president to go to forced vaccination after a person is subjected to the statute driven involuntary quarantine.

        Let me know if I’m reading it wrong.

        1. Darrell, I have only read it superficially so far. It looks like a lot of it was initiated in late *2019* as an AIDS response (judging from some slide and committee responses), and this activity has been bumping up against CV-19 (if not really started because of CV-19) – a bait and switch approach. Absolutely though, we would be naive to think that Australian-style forced CV-19 internment camps are not being planned here. It would be absolutely immoral for any efforts by lay people to discuss this to be discouraged as well. SCOTUS does in fact weigh the public’s mindset when hearing arguments and it looks as though the Federal vaccine mandates (note there is no law, just a very poorly executed EO) is in jeopardy according to credible CNN-esque news. The Washing State Executive Code will need certain triggers to apply to CV-19 and it appears unlikely, but [yes as a matter of fact] Jay Inslee is working towards having forced vaccination and forced internment of people for X-disease as a tool ready to go.


      2. Teresa, forced inoculations is on the table in some of those slides. There is no law that mandates a social security number. No law defines “Individual Income”, in regards to taxing it. “Gross Income” is defined, but does not enumerate salary/wages, is meant for corporations [see 26 U.S. Code 61]. It’s the spaces left between what is not said where most work is done. Detaining people until they are vaccinated is the same as detaining people until they pay Individual Income Tax. The late Harry Reid explains this perfectly:

        Vaccination will absolutely not be voluntary under this scheme.

  7. I encourage everyone to read the bill’s language for yourself and then you will know exactly what the state is proposing to do.

    After you read it, if you agree with the new power of force the state will have should this be passed, then you won’t have any trouble complying in the future should you have the police show up at your home to place you into involuntary detention.

    Language directly from the proposed code: “A local health officer may invoke the powers of police officers, sheriffs, constables, and all other officers and employees of any political subdivisions within the jurisdiction of the health department to enforce immediately orders given to effectuate the purposes of this section in accordance with the provisions of RCW 43.20.050(4) and 70.05.120.”

    To me, this is likened to when people either take the time to critically read the fine legal print they are going to be bound to, or simply click on the “APPROVE” button. Ask a lawyer how hard it is to unsign a legal document. While most of the time we can just approve something without reading the fine print, this is not one of those times! And ignorance is a weak excuse.

    From my point of view, ignoring the effort by the state to pass this and failing to critically consider how this power could be abused either now or in the future is at best foolish. Carefully read and discern this proposed bill. You either trust the state to not abuse this new power now or in the future or you don’t. If you don’t, please take the time to speak up against it.

    The hearing on the 12th:

    It is extremely concerning to me to allow this into our state code even if the state does not take this approach to managing COVID. I too am tired of all of “this”, but giving our state more power, will not solve it.

    1. The “addressing misinformation” press release the state put out was so disgustingly deceptive I intend to attend the meeting to voice my concerns. They sought to imply that the state was not even considering vaccine mandates in schools, and entirely brushed over the other alleged changes to the WAC. When in reality, they absolutely are DISCUSSING changes to the state code to add vaccine mandates at this meeting, just not VOTING at them. Lying with facts. Presenting technically true information in a deceptive manner.

    2. Both RCW 70.05.120(4) and WAC 246-100-040 have been on the books since 2003.

      Another rule already on the books is RCW 70.05.020(1)(c) that says health care providers or facilities can disclose your personal health care information “to any person” without your consent or knowledge if “the health care provider or facility believes, in good faith, that use or disclosure is necessary to prevent or lesson a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public…”

      Hopefully providers and facilities know and would exercise their right under that law to keep that information private: “There is no obligation under this chapter on the part of the provider or facility to so disclose.”

  8. Influenza death rates are one in 1000 on average. Omicron death rates are one in 1430 and some even say it’s one in 40,000. The reality is that the normal influenza flu is more deadly than Omicron. Do not confuse death rates with contagiousness.

    People need to calm down and not live in such fear. That is doing more harm to our society than Covid ever will. Where is our resiliency? Where is our fight? Where is our spirit? The good news is that Omicron has a chance of creating herd immunity and we will finally be at an end to all this insanity. People have lost their jobs and have been ridiculed and shunned in society for not getting vaccinated only to find out that the vaccine does nothing to stop the spread. President Biden, the CDC, and Dr. Fauci said in the spring that if you get vaccinated you will not get Covid any longer, and that the vaccine is a dead end to the virus. If you don’t believe me look it up The vaccine only makes the symptoms less severe. Governments and people have gone mad and used a virus to control us which has negatively impacted many peoples lives including our children. It’s time to stop this madness and get back to normal life.

    In regards to masks I can guarantee you 90% of people don’t wear it properly or contaminate it when they itch their nose and put it back on or reuse a mask that hangs on their rearview mirror of their car. Masks work but only if you treat them like you’re in a surgical environment and 90+ percent of the people in society don’t do that. I had Covid back in March 2020 and was very I’ll and still have side effects. I’ve also been vaccinated. But I’m not afraid. I will live my life normally. I will take sensible precautions but this vaccine mandate and forced mask wearing and dividing society amongst vaccinated and unvaccinated has to stop.

  9. I encourage everyone to read every link. If you are “believed” to be guilty, this applies to you. Every person I currently know who has Omicron is vaxxed, so don’t think for a second you are free. Under this WAC, suspicion is legal justification. Prove otherwise, quoting the regulation?


    This is a video discussion regarding the BOH meeting Wednesday. There is a explaination on the difference between a RCW (law) and a WAC (rules). The Board of Health cannot make an RCW but they can make a WAC.

    Under emergency powers, the Governor continues to use his agencies to make policy changes that are directly affecting us. Going through the BOH at this time could mean rules have the potential to end up being enforced by law.

    BOH statement regarding Wednesday’s meeting:

    The BOH recently issued a statement explaining that it will not be taking a vote Wednesday to change isolation or quarantine policies, but rather continue a conversation regarding a rules hearing about making any changes.

    It also stated it would not be voting on requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for school-aged children at Wednesday’s meeting, but will hear an update from a TAG (technical advisory group) on the possibility of doing so.

    While the BOH has stated it will not vote on these issues Wednesday, it is important for residents to participate now and give public input on what rules the BOH could potentially bring up for a vote at a later date.

    The time to speak up is now – when these ideas are being discussed. There is opportunity to speak Wednesday.

    Link to the hearing:

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