Snohomish County says it is making slow but steady progress in the drive to vaccinate more people against COVID-19. Now, about one of every 10 residents has received their first vaccine dose. The county says that getting an adequate vaccine supply is still frustrating its efforts and the tens of thousands of people who want the shots.
Speaking during the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters told reporters that 21,000 doses will be administered: 10,000 to people getting their first shot; the other 11,000 will receive their second. That is still far from the 45,000 shots the county says it could do every week if it had enough vaccine. The population now eligible for the vaccine is 10 times higher than the number of shots available. Spitters says those figures are comparable to what other states are seeing.
A bright spot in the vaccine drive is at Paine Field in Everett. The Boeing Co. has moved the drive-thru site indoors to the Boeing Activity Center. In its first few days, according to Boeing’s Brad Zaback, 1,800 people got shots. The center has the capacity to handle 10,000 a week. County Executive Dave Somers told the coronavirus briefing that the county is working with Community Transit to provide shuttles to the center. That, said Somers, should happen “fairly soon”.
A new county system for scheduling appointments is slated to come online this week. It will allow people to schedule their first and second dose at the same time. It will also permit some limited sign up for a waiting list. The best way to make an appointment is still online at:
Those without computer access can call the Health District’s COVID call center at 425- 339-5278 to make an appointment. It operates from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Somers says mobile vaccine teams are now working to reach vulnerable residents. Small “pop-up” or temporary sites are also scheduled to become operable soon. They would operate for a day or two in hard to reach communities. They will set up as soon as the county has more reliable vaccine supplies.
Spitters says the state hopes to give all counties advance notice — a schedule three weeks out — of vaccine allotments. But that will not happen until the state has more predictable deliveries. For now, we will only know one week ahead.
Asked whether it is safe to send children back to school, Spitters told reporters “the overwhelming preponderance of scientific data as well as our empirical data here with our early steps show that reopening schools is very reassuring… so we continue to encourage schools to gradually, slowly, incrementally, return kids” to class.
He said that means continuing a hybrid setting — students in class part-time, at home part-time. “We are not,” Spitters added, “looking at full occupancy, but we are looking at increasing the number of grades, and moving toward older ages, as long as this continues to go well.” The county says it is up to the school districts to make the final decision.
One reporter asked if it is likely that the county might “slide back” to Phase 1 restrictions. Spitters says he does not think that is likely; that the trends continue to move “in the right direction.” The number of new cases is down slightly again for the past two weeks. Deaths and hospitalizations also are slowly dropping.
— By Bob Throndsen