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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 12, 2021
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – As other regions around Washington join the Puget Sound Region in Phase 2, the most recent report shows low or decreasing trends for all four metrics. This means Snohomish County will continue in Phase 2 for an additional two weeks.
The reported metrics for the Puget Sound Region published February 11 are as follows:
“This is good news and I am grateful for everyone’s efforts and sacrifices to get us here, but we can’t celebrate too soon or let our guard down,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “While case counts and hospital numbers are going down, absolute numbers and rates of cases, deaths, and hospitalization are still at very concerning levels. We have lost more than 70 residents to COVID since the beginning of the year. We’re far from out of the woods and still in a precarious position.”
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated recommendations regarding masks and also modified quarantine guidance for close contacts who are fully vaccinated.
During a study in January, researchers found that two modifications to masks could improve the fit of masks and reduce the wearer’s exposure to aerosolized droplets known to transmit the virus. The two modifications were:
“We encourage people to consider double-masking or adding layers, as it may provide additional protection both for others and for the person wearing the masks,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “The two most important things are making sure that--whether one mask or two are used--that masks are multilayer tightly woven cloth and that they fit snugly, covering both your nose and mouth. We must all be consistent about wearing masks when around people we don’t live with.”
The CDC also indicated that fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine at home if they are a close contact of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case if all three of these items apply:
If people do not meet all three of the above criteria, then they must continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
“We are pleased to see CDC’s confidence in the vaccine’s efficacy is translating into greater flexibility in public health management of exposed individuals who are fully vaccinated,” noted Dr. Spitters. “The practical benefits of this greater latitude also provides further incentive the community to get vaccinated when they become eligible and appointments are available.”
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the COVID-19 Outbreaks in Washington State K-12 Schools report. The report is yet another tool that school districts and local health jurisdictions like the Snohomish Health District can use to inform decisions about when and how to bring students, educators and staff back for in-person learning.
The report includes data about K-12 schools across the state of Washington that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak from August 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, including both public and private schools and all learning modalities.
A COVID‐19 outbreak in a K‐12 school is considered when the following criteria have been met:
The report showed that Snohomish County had 12 outbreaks from August through December. The total number of cases associated with the outbreaks was 53, with the median of three cases per outbreak. For more information, see DOH’s press release.
The Health District has also published its first COVID-19 report for schools. From August 1, 2020 through February 11, 2021, there have been 285 cases in staff or students attending public and private K-12 schools throughout Snohomish County. Those cases impacted 201 school facilities, with the majority of them being one case that did not result in further transmission. Note that these numbers may differ from reports by DOH, which are based on outbreaks of two or more cases within a 14-day period.
“With several thousand students, staff and teachers having returned to the classroom at least part-time, this report shows that the prevention and intervention measures are working,” said Dr. Spitters. “Our schools have been working hard to make the classroom as safe as possible. I hope community keeps masking up and physically distancing so trends continue decreasing in order for more middle and high school students can resume in-person learning.”
The school report will be updated every 2-3 weeks for the remainder of the school year and posted online at www.snohd.org/casecounts under “Snapshots and Reports.”
Weather permitting, most test sites will be open on Monday. The schedule for the community-based testing sites is 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.
The Health District will be closed on Monday, February 15 in observance of Presidents Day. While testing and contact tracing will continue, data updates will not occur on Monday. The updated two-week case rate, maps and detailed reports will be published on Tuesday.