SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - Snohomish County on Tuesday marked one year since a man walked into a health clinic, sick with a novel coronavirus after returning from Wuhan, China. A positive test the next day would confirm the country’s first known U.S. COVID-19 patient.
"Here we are a year later, I have to say this is just a miraculous thing in the history of public health and medical science that we’re talking about the difficulties of rolling out a vaccine," said Snohomish County Health Director Dr. Chris Spitters.
As the United States reached a grim milestone of 400,000 COVID-19 deaths this same day, every day of delay in getting people vaccinated is risking lives.
Snohomish County is confident it can ramp up vaccinations with its three operating drive-thru vaccination sites. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said Tuesday they can administer 30,000 doses a week at these sites right away, and ramp-up to 50,000 with more supplies.
There’s just one key ingredient missing: vaccine doses. Somers said last week they received just 3,300 doses, 10% of the current vaccinating capacity.
"I am frustrated and find it frustrating that we’re having to fight for extra doses each week," Somers said. "Last week, we were given an allocation of only 2,300 doses by the state. We complained about it and we were able to receive an extra thousand doses from another county, another facility, that helped a little bit but 3,000, 3,300, is far below the 30,000 capacity we have stood up."
As local and state governments receive pressure to administer vaccine supply, Snohomish County fears it will quickly run out of available doses.
The third most populated county in the state, Snohomish County makes up more than 10% of the state population. Last week’s vaccine dose allocation to the county accounts for less than 3% of what the state received from the federal government.
Q13 News has reached out to the Department of Health for comment and has not heard back at publishing time.