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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 11, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Cases in Snohomish County continue to surge, with the latest two-week case rate at 428 per 100,000 residents through December 5. Hospitalizations have been hovering between 90 and 100 each day, and the number of deaths continuing to increase.
In addition to case counts, new maps and an analysis of race and ethnicity data were published this week:
The majority of new cases continue be in 20-49 year-olds. Case investigations reveal that roughly two-thirds of all new cases are from close contacts or community acquired. This means people are getting COVID from people they know or live with, or in community settings like workplaces, church and social settings or get-togethers.
This is leading to an increase in the number of new workplace outbreaks in the recent weekly report through November 28. The number nearly doubled, from 19 workplace outbreaks the week ending November 21 to 32 workplace outbreaks for the week ending November 28. There are also outbreaks in 56 long-term care facilities, including 16 of the 17 skilled nursing facilities in Snohomish County, accounting for 572 cases in recent weeks.
All of this paints a pretty bleak picture, and the community’s help in continuing to follow the public health measures is needed to turn this around. However, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
“We’ve all be planning and preparing for vaccine distribution here in Snohomish County since late-July,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “There will likely be hiccups as we embark on a vaccination effort of this scale and complexity, but I want to assure you that partners across Snohomish County are fully engaged and prepared to rise to the challenge.”
While an exciting step, it will take time before distribution and supplies are able to reach the broader community. The vaccination effort will roll out over the coming 6-9 months, with substantial benefits of these effort likely not being felt until the latter part of 2021. To learn more, see the state’s update on vaccine distribution.
The Health District was also selected by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be the state’s test site for mock vaccine delivery last week.
Staff received a box that was simulated to be how shipments would arrive. The package took less than 24 hours to get to here once shipped. Inside a dry ice pod with essentially an empty pizza box, but staff followed all instructions provided as if vaccine vials were included.
Participating in this mock delivery helps both the Health District and DOH better understand the expectations for future deliveries. It also helps staff provide more-informed guidance for ensuring safe handling and storage procedures to our partners in the community.
To provide more accurate daily reports, DOH announced changes to how it reports deaths from COVID-19. These changes will streamline the process as death counts increase. Rather than a preliminary cause of death, the agency will only use the official registered cause of death on the DOH dashboard, providing more precise reporting.
The normal process for releasing final death data is complex, involves multiple data systems, and can take up to 18 months from start to finish. This modified process requires adjustments to how information is made publicly and quickly, without impacting the quality of the data or reporting.
Deaths due to factors other than COVID-19 can be hard to definitively rule out. For many of these conditions, COVID-19 may have hastened the death. These are the deaths being reviewed, along with local health jurisdictions like the Snohomish Health District, to assess COVID-19’s impact on the death.
These changes will result in an adjustment of death totals, including a removal of some deaths from figures made public. Initially, 15-20 of those reported deaths from Snohomish County have been removed and will be added back once the cause of death is investigated and officially determined to be due to COVID-19. This process will take about two weeks.
See DOH’s press release to learn more.
The Health District recognizes that these are very difficult times for the food service industry, and the agency has been working hard to support the businesses where possible. On December 10, the Board of Health approved a three-month extension in paying for annual operating permit permits without a late fee.Food establishments had already received annual invoices for their 2021 operating permits, which stated that they needed to be paid in full prior to December 31 to avoid a late fee. The Board’s unanimous approval of Resolution 20-28, payment may be deferred to March 31, 2021.For the establishments that have chosen to temporarily close due to COVID operating restrictions, the $300 late fee has been waived so long as the permit renewal occurs before the facility reopens to the public. Facilities that have chosen to temporarily or permanently close must notify the Health District.Food establishments may contact the Environmental Health Office at 425.339.5250 or email@example.com with questions or if additional information is needed.
The locations and schedules for next week’s drive-thru testing operated by the Health District are as follows:
Testing is by appointment only and registration is now open 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:
Right now, many are feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted from the ongoing stress of living through a pandemic. Both kids and adults can experience exhaustion, where they may feel depleted, like they are running on empty, using up all their physical and emotional energy without a chance to recharge.
DOH has launched the “Coping with COVID” podcast series. In the newest edition, Kira Mauseth, PhD and Doug Dicharry, MD talk about how exhaustion affects both children and adults, and strategies for families to cope as we make our way through the pandemic.
Read the article and listen to the podcast here.