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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMarch 19, 2021
CONTACT:Heather Thomas, email@example.com
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – For the first time in over a year, there are no COVID outbreaks at assisted living or supportive living facilities in Snohomish County. In addition, there is only one skilled nursing facility and one adult family home with active outbreaks. Provided no additional cases are reported, the two remaining sites are anticipated to be cleared by the end of the month.
“This is a remarkable recovery from late-December when we had over 100 cases being reported weekly from long-term care facilities and all 17 skilled nursing facilities in the county with ongoing outbreaks,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “It’s a welcome relief for everyone.”
Since March 2020, there have been more than 150 outbreaks and nearly 2,000 cases associated with long-term care and similar facilities in Snohomish County. These facilities—more than 600 in number throughout the county—have also linked with at least 345 hospitalizations and 273 deaths through March 6.
This decrease is the result of the commitment to infection control and prevention measures, vaccination, and the sacrifices made by the residents, staff and their families over the last year. It also shows how much of an impact that these safe and effective vaccines are having in such a short time in settings where risk of both transmission and severe disease is highest.
“This is an exciting milestone in controlling the pandemic for these residents, staff and their families that have been among the hardest hit,” said Dr. Spitters. “The vaccination effort is already delivering great results, saving lives and letting us get back to enjoying timed with loved ones. I hope people who are on the fence about whether to get the vaccine recognize these incredibly favorable results and choose to make an appointment to get vaccinated themselves just as soon as they are eligible.”
Given these promising trends, Governor Inslee announced that visitation at long-term care and nursing home facilities may resume immediately. Outdoor visitation remains the safest, preferred option, but indoor visitation will be permitted for visitors or residents who are fully vaccinated. Compassionate care visits will still be permitted, regardless of vaccination of either party.
Note that indoor visitation will not be allowed if there is a current outbreak in a facility, or for residents with either a confirmed case of COVID-19 or in quarantine due to exposure to the virus. Facilities will still need to follow prevention practices like symptom screening, PPE and testing, environmental cleaning, etc.
Based on data through March 16, more than 100,000 Snohomish County residents are now fully vaccinated. That represents 15.8 percent of all residents 16 years or older in the county.
With the increasing number of vaccines being administered, it is becoming harder to extract data on a regular basis and to differentiate between the type of vaccine administered. The Health District has adjusted how data will be released, as shown in the table below and online at www.snohd.org/covidvaccine.
As a reminder, the data provided is just a snapshot in time. Shipments arrive several days to a week after being allocated. Many providers wait to schedule appointments until vaccine are on hand, with plans to hold clinics with those doses occurring later in the week or over weekends. Inputting of data from those clinics can sometimes lag a few days behind, or for vaccines administered through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to be merged with the statewide reporting system. While doses allocated exceeding doses administered in the data tables may create the impression of a large surplus of vaccine available, these factors mentioned exaggerate the true surplus. Know that vaccine throughput remains high in this dynamic process and that the numbers of doses coming in and going out change daily.
Following the move to Phase 1b2 on March 17, Governor Inslee announced that the remaining two tiers of Phase 1b will become eligible on March 31. The expansion will now include:
Phase 1b2 added roughly 50,000 more eligible adults in Snohomish County this week. The next round opening March 31 will add another 150,000-200,000 people locally.
Snohomish County residents should visit the Phase Finder tool at findyourphasewa.org prior to making an appointment for vaccination. The Phase Finder tool is designed to help people in Washington find out if they are eligible for a COVID vaccine now or if not, sign up to be notified when they become eligible. Verification of eligibility may be requested during spot checks of patients arriving for vaccine appointments.
As a reminder, there are a number of ways to look for available vaccines:
Keep in mind that the number and timing of appointments are based on vaccine availability, and the demand for vaccine continues to exceed the supply. It may take time to get an appointment, but please keep at it even if you do not get an appointment during your first attempt. It could take up to a few weeks to get a spot.
Governor Inslee announced that all counties will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery, effective Monday, March 22. Some detailed industry and event guidance have been released, including:
More guidance will be updated and posted online by March 22 at www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-workers.
Under the updated plan, Snohomish County will again be evaluated independently and not as part of a region. On April 12, and every three weeks thereafter, DOH will review data for all counties and update their phase status.
Provided Snohomish County maintains a 14-day case rate at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, and five or fewer new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in a seven-day period, then the county remains at Phase 3. Should the numbers be higher than that, or if the hospital bed occupancy in Snohomish County exceeds 90 percent at any given time, the county would slide back to Phase 2.
As the County moves to Phase 3 and spectator events are permitted, the Health District will begin moving its testing operations at 3900 Broadway near Funko Field to a nearby location. The last day of operations at that site will be Thursday, March 25. On Friday, March 26, the new site at 3715 Oakes Avenue will open.
The schedule for the week of March 21 will be as follows:
Appointments for testing are encouraged, and registration is available 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 to schedule a testing appointment. 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.