Snohomish County to be in Phase 1 of new COVID recovery plan next week

Dr. Chris Spitters

For the week starting January 11, Snohomish County will fall under Phase 1 of the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery announced by Gov. Jay Inslee last week.

The governor’s plan provides a framework for regions to safely ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity.

With Snohomish County now incorporated into the new Puget Sound Region with King and Pierce counties, movement will be based on meeting all four metrics for the region:

  • A 10 percent or greater decrease in the rate of COVID cases per 100,000 population in most recent 14-day period measured compared to the prior 14-day period
  • A 10 percent or greater decrease in the rate of new COVID hospital admission rates per 100,000 in most recent 14-day period measured compared to the prior 14-day period
  • Test positivity of less than 10% for the most recent seven-day period measured
  • Total ICU occupancy of less than 90% for the most recent seven-day period measured

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will compile updated data by region every Friday. Regions that meet all four criteria above are eligible to move to Phase 2 on the following Monday. Based on the first dashboard update, the Puget Sound Region is only meeting three of the four criteria and is therefore not eligible to advance yet.

The region needs to see a 10% or greater decrease in hospital admission rates per 100,000 when comparing two-week periods. The period from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2 saw a 1% increase in hospital admission rates across the region compared to the period from Dec. 9-19.

“Hospital trends usually follow two to three weeks after the number of COVID-19 infections increase. While it may take a few weeks before the new hospital admission rates decrease enough, the other metrics are in everyone’s control today,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “Please be patient, keep masking up and social distancing when around people you don’t live with, and keep those social bubbles as small as possible, and keep things outdoors or well ventilated.

Spitters addsed that the seemingly favorable recent trends in reported case rates and test positivity may reflect multiple factors from the holidays and may not represent truly sustained improvements. These factors include, but aren’t limited to, decreased test-seeking through the holidays and delays in transmission of test results from laboratories to public health entities.

As a reminder, indoor gatherings with non-household members are still prohibited in the current phase, the health district said. Those behaviors, along with good hand hygiene, are the key to getting test positivity and case rates down.

The DOH and data dashboards will continue to be available online. Additional data regarding the new criteria for the Roadmap to Recovery will be provided separately for the near term. The risk assessment dashboards will be revised in the future, but there should be no break in the availability of COVID-19 data.

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