While a one-day record of new coronavirus cases hit Snohomish County, we are also seeing a few good signs in the COVID-19 battle. Those were the key takeaways from the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.
The number of new coronavirus cases for a single day hit an all-time high in the county on Sunday, with the Snohomish Health District reporting 141 new cases on Nov. 1. That topped the record of 135 cases in early March, at the height of the first outbreak.
But County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters reported that officials are getting some “mixed messages” on the outbreak. Spitters said hospitalization admissions for coronavirus patients has plateaued (25 currently) and COVID patients account for only 3-4% of available bed space; below the 10% threshold that could create a bed shortage.
He added that even though the county’s rate of new cases is now up to 126 per 100,000 residents, that is only a 5% increase over the previous rate — a relative improvement — and that maybe we are starting to “flatten things out.”
It is still too early to know if Halloween gatherings may have sparked more cases, but police in Marysville did break up a large party. It may be next week before officials can tell if the holiday contributed to new cases.
Spitters did warn that virus cases are rising in all age groups across the county — and he attributed much of that to increased gatherings. Also fueling the increase, he said, may be persistent comments on social media that mask wearing does not work.
Face coverings “do work,” insisted Spitters: They limit the number of tiny virus particles people exhale just by breathing or talking. He cited studies in communities in the U.S. and around the world where masks are mandated, adding that those placces demonstrate “a better outcome in the weeks and months that followed.” So, his advice is to keep wearing masks at work, outdoors, with friends, and in stores and restaurants.
Spitters also said the county is changing its lab that processes tests from the Broadway (Everett) and Lynnwood Food Bank testing sites. Results will be available faster; in two to three days instead of three to four business days. Check the Snohmish Health District website on Friday for more details.
Spitters also said that contact tracing on new cases is now reaching70-80% of the people infected within 24 hours.
Asked about flu cases, Spitters told reporters he does not know of any flu cases in the county and perhaps none so far throughout the state. He thinks the precautions people are taking for the coronavirus are also helping keep flu in check for now.
You can see the complete briefing here.
— By Bob Throndsen