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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 25, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, email@example.com
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The Snohomish Health District recently made updates on how daily case counts are reported to help answer frequently asked questions. These include:
In addition to case counts, new maps and an outbreak summary were published this week:
With the Thanksgiving holiday, daily case counts will not be posted until Monday, November 30. The Health District’s next “weekly” data report is not expected to be posted until Wednesday, December 1 to allow for extra time to sort through lab reports received over the weekend. While the Health District will be closed to the public, contact tracing and other essential response functions will continue to happen.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) worked with healthcare system partners and Microsoft AI for Health to improve the hospitalization data in the risk assessment dashboard. The updated hospitalization data show occupancy of ICU beds, where capacity is likely to be exceeded first. The new data include:
This information is now available on the state’s Risk Assessment dashboard under the Healthcare System Readiness tab. Snohomish County is included within the North region.
The Health District’s testing locations will be closed November 26 and 27, but the 3900 Broadway site will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. over the weekend.
Beginning the week of November 30, the Health District will double the number of its testing sites to four locations with varying schedules. The locations and schedules for next week are as follows:
Testing is by appointment only and registration is now open for both Everett sites. Appointments for the Lynnwood location will open Friday, and Sultan’s slots will open on Monday. All information can be accessed at www.snohd.org/testing.
Those without internet access or needing language assistance can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.
Testing is open to anyone, regardless of symptoms, but remains strongly encouraged for individuals that fit the following criteria:
Hope for an eventual return to more normalcy appears to be in the distant horizon, with news of several vaccines nearing the finish line in their trials. The Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management have been collaborating with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), local first responders, healthcare systems, pharmacies and other stakeholders to prepare for this since late-July, and that work is ongoing.
An interim COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for Snohomish County and a plan overview were published Wednesday, aligned with the interim plan published by DOH. To see more about Washington’s interim plan and frequently asked questions about the COVID vaccine, go to www.covidvaccinewa.org
The first limited supplies of vaccine will target health care workers and first responders at high-risk for exposure, highly vulnerable populations liken nursing homes, and older people with risk factors for severe disease.
As vaccination of those groups is achieved and the supply expands, efforts will broaden to include critical infrastructure and public safety personnel, other adults with medical risk factors for severe disease, and ultimately, the general population.
This will all take about 6-9 months to unfold. Although there is hope ahead, a vaccine will not resolve the current problem or get our communities back closer to “normal” for many, many months come. This means mid- to late-2021 before vaccines are broadly available for the general public.
Until then, everyone needs to continue masking up, maintaining physical distance, limiting social gatherings, keeping hands and surfaces clean, and staying home if sick.
Historians have shared how the second and third waves of the influenza pandemic in 1918-1919, now a century ago, were far more severe when people grew tired of the mask mandates and restrictions, letting their guards down.
A Crosscut article last week highlighted the severe consequences when people threw caution to the wind in November 1918 and celebrated Thanksgiving and other holidays with abandon. The cases piled up and the death tolls climbed.
For several weeks now, public health officials, elected leaders, scientists, business owners, doctors, nurses and countless others have been pleading with the community to curb social gatherings and mask up. Restrictions were put in place to try to slow the building crisis in our healthcare system about 10 days ago.
Unfortunately, Snohomish County and the state are breaking record after record. Daily case counts. Two-week case rates. Numbers of outbreaks. Long-term care facilities are scrambling to respond and control while straining to care for residents with critical staffing shortages.
Hospitals are rapidly approaching the levels in back in March, which peaked at around 120 residents hospitalized due to COVID. There has been a 400% increase in just six weeks, currently hovering at 75-80 hospitalized and on pace to surpass the March peak in the several weeks if the recent trajectory continues.
Back in the spring, there were other hospitals in the region to help absorb the acute care capacity that was comprised by that spike. That’s not the case today.
A surge in travel suggests that many people have plans to gather with people outside their household this coming Thanksgiving. If more people don’t cancel their holiday plans this week, some of those guests—or their loved ones or coworkers will become ill, some severely.
This will worsen the existing hospital surge that will compromise care, not just for COVID patients but also for people having heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis, and trauma. Everyone’s access to acute care will be compromised. That’s the sober truth being dealt with today.
Give thanks, not COVID. This isn’t forever. Just for now.