New COVID-19 case numbers in Snohomish County triggers concerns of rollback to Phase 2

Leaders in one of Washington’s largest counties are voicing a disturbing alert about COVID-19 numbers. Case rates in Snohomish County have been climbing over the past few weeks, triggering new concern about a step backwards into Phase 2 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery plan.

Just as businesses like gyms and restaurants started to get back to normal, there are fresh concerns of a surge linked to the holiday weekend. County executive Dave Somers said the community has been seeing an increase in cases well before Easter, and worry large gatherings took place during the holiday.

"I’m extremely concerned that we are headed in the wrong direction with our cases numbers. If current trends continue, there is a danger we will be moved back into Phase 2 and that would be bad news for businesses and communities," said Somers.

Tuesday, during the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Chris Spitters of the Snohomish Health District said the case rate climbed from 70 to 121 per 100,000 people in less than a month. The health officer said 40 percent of cases in the last four weeks are from younger crowds ages 20 to 39. Gatherings continue to be the leader for coronavirus transmission.

RELATED: New vaccination site opens at Angel of the Winds Arena

"It’s still bad for people’s health. A third of people that get COVID three to six months later still have trouble breathing, have a foggy brain, don’t feel good. So, even if you don’t get hospitalized this is not a benign thing. So, on the health front that’s clear. And if we have to retreat the restrictions again that’s just hard on everyone," said Spitters.

The Snohomish Health District said a rollback to Phase 2 would be based on metrics set by the state’s Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery plan. Case numbers must be below 200 per 100,000 to avoid tighter restrictions. Also, hospital rates need to be below five new admissions per 100,000 in a seven-day period.

Spitters said the fear of restrictions could come soon, considering only 18 percent of Snohomish County residents are fully vaccinated.

"Simply isn’t a sufficient proportion to interrupt the transmission of this very difficult to contain virus. We may not see a real slowing until up to 80 or more percent of the population is fully vaccinated," said Spitters.

RELATED: King County official: COVID-19 case surge could lead to rollback

Hundreds of eligible people received their vaccine on Tuesday at the Angel of the Winds Area in Everett, one of six mass vaccination sites in the county. Some recipients said if a rollback to Phase 2 is necessary they would support the county’s decision.

"Whatever it takes. If the guidelines need to be brought back to reduce the people that are getting COVID then I believe that’s what needs to be done," said Josh Judy, who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

"We need to get out of this," said Cesare Parise, who also received the vaccine. "I want my life back like I think everyone else."

Almost 333,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Snohomish County. Stephanie Judy, who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, is encouraging her community to participate.

"I feel like I won the lotto! I’m super excited," said Stephanie Judy. "We’ve lost people to COVID, so that’s why we wanted to get it. Plus, I have lupus so yeah it was a good thing for me."

A new mass vaccination site opened Tuesday in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes. It’s located at Boom City in Tulalip. It’s a drive-thru set up, making it the sixth mass vaccination site organized by the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce. More information is available online about vaccination sites and appointments.

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