8 new COVID deaths for Tri-City, WA, but new vaccinations on the rise
A woman in her 20s was among eight new deaths in the Tri-Cities area announced this week due to COVID-19.
Eight is one of the highest numbers of recent weekly deaths in more than three months.
But in more encouraging news for public health officials, the percentage of Benton and Franklin’s population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus has increased 1.5% over the past week.
Vaccination rates had only increased by 0.5% in previous weeks.
“It’s probably because more people are seeing others get sick,” Benton and Franklin county health officer Dr. Amy Person said in a weekly update with Benton Franklin Community Health. Alliance.
“And even though they’re not hospitalized, they have symptoms, they can’t work, so they’re impacted,” she said.
Still, new cases remain high compared to other parts of Washington state and the United States
Earlier this week, Franklin County had the 2nd highest rate of new cases in the nation and Benton County ranked 10th.
Whitman County, home of the Washington State University Tri-Cities, ranked 5th, according to daily updated COVID-19 data from The New York Times.
As of Friday, Whitman County ranked 2nd in the nation, just behind the Nome, Alaska area, and Franklin County fell to 4th. Benton County had fallen to 41st place, with Douglas County, Washington, in 32nd place.
Deaths of Tri-Cities
The eight new deaths announced Friday in the Benton Franklin Health District’s weekly update were the second highest tally since late October.
A week in December also saw eight recent deaths and a week in January 12 deaths were reported.
“We are still seeing a higher number of deaths,” Dr Person said. “What’s not entirely clear is whether this is due to the omicron or whether these are subsequent deaths due to the delta variant.”
The delta variant of the coronavirus has caused more severe disease than the current omicron variant which accounts for almost all new cases. But the omicron variant is more contagious, infecting more people.
The most recent deaths brought Benton and Franklin counties’ tally since the start of the pandemic to more than 600, at 607.
They include 415 deaths of Benton County residents and 192 of Franklin County residents.
Six of the most recent deaths were Benton County residents – a woman in her 20s, a man in her 40s, a man in her 60s, and two women and a man in his 40s.
In Franklin County, two people died – a 70-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man.
In January, a total of 21 Tri-Cities COVID deaths were announced, compared to 22 in December and 17 in November.
Fatalities have fallen significantly since the 80 announced in October when the delta variant had just peaked.
The majority of COVID deaths – 92% in 2021 in the Tri-Cities region – are in people who are not fully vaccinated.
Local public health officials verify that deaths were due to COVID complications by verifying a positive test result and that coronavirus infection was listed as the primary cause of death on the death certificate.
It may take several weeks for the district to receive and reconcile death information due to reporting processes from medical facilities and coroner’s offices and the process for issuing and publishing death certificates.
Statewide, 10,967 residents have died of complications from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to Wednesday’s report from the Washington State Department of Health.
Immunization rates remain low in the Tri-Cities compared to Washington State, despite a three-fold increase over the past week in the rate of people getting vaccinated.
The Benton Franklin Health District recommends that even those who have had COVID-19 consider getting vaccinated.
“We’re seeing more data coming out that confirms that even if you’ve had COVID, getting vaccinated will give you protection beyond that,” Dr Person said.
The Washington State Department of Health only recently began providing vaccination rates for everyone eligible for vaccines, those ages 5 and older.
Statewide, 70.1% of residents age 5 and older are vaccinated. That drops to 58.1% in Benton County and 54% in Franklin County.
The majority of children do well with COVID, but not all, and parents should consider getting them vaccinated, said Heather Hill, infectious disease supervisor for the Benton Franklin Health District, speaking on the Kadlec on Call podcast. .
Nationwide, about 1,000 children have died of COVID since the pandemic began, she said.
“It’s important to realize that children get serious illnesses,” she said. “They have their own form of long COVID and then can develop this multisystem inflammatory syndrome which can be very, very devastating to their internal organs. You don’t know if your child will be the right one.
in 2020 and 2021, five children in Benton and Franklin counties were diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, shortly after having COVID-19. They were among 93 cases in Washington state.
Tri-Cities new cases
The number of new cases in the Tri-Cities area appeared to be declining based on new case data released by the Benton Franklin Health District over the past week.
However, public health officials did not trust the data after the Washington State Department of Health said its data system had slowed down due to the large number of cases of the omicron variant in the whole state.
The slowdown could lead to delays in notifying new cases but also in detecting duplicate cases, the health ministry said.
Asked on social media if the wave of new cases from the highly omicron variant had peaked, the Tri-Cities-based health district said it was too early to tell.
Previous predictions indicated that the omicron peak would not be reached for a few weeks.
On Friday, the new case rate for Benton and Franklin counties combined was 3,803 new cases per 100,000 people over two weeks, but all cases may not have been included in the data at the end of the week.
Earlier in the week, the case rate was 4,105.
The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment remains high at 82 patients in hospitals in Richland, Kennewick, Pasco and Prosser at the end of the week.
However, the week started with 89 patients, and during the peak of the delta variant wave, the four hospitals were treating up to 127 patients.
This week, COVID-19 patients accounted for about one in five hospitalized patients.
Nursing homes and other long-term care homes in the Tri-Cities area are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, according to public health officials.
The total number of reported cases, both among residents and staff, since the start of the pandemic has risen to 1,131, up about 100 since the start of the year.
This story was originally published February 5, 2022 11:26 a.m.