New data highlights impact of delta variant in Snohomish County
Snohomish Health District’s latest data report looked at all cases through July 31. In addition to confirming the local impact of the Delta strain, the report also included a first overview of cases by vaccination status.
July had twice as many confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,670 cases compared to 1,322 in June. Of these, nearly 80% were unvaccinated individuals. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 cases were reported in the first two weeks of August.
|Month||Total number of cases||Number of breakthrough cases of the COVID-19 vaccine||Percentage of unvaccinated|
“This rapid increase in cases over the past six weeks reflects a combination of a more contagious Delta strain, reduced mask wear, increased social and larger gatherings, and incomplete vaccination coverage,” said Dr Chris Spitters, head of health for Snohomish Health. District.
The Delta strain makes people sick faster, making it easier to spread and infect more people than previous strains. It is a strain that has become very efficient at moving through communities at lightning speed. In addition to the Delta variant, the time since vaccination and the age of the affected population may also play a role.
Although the proportion of new cases among fully vaccinated residents has increased somewhat, vaccines are still very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Of the 140 residents hospitalized in July, 79% (111 patients) were not vaccinated.
|Month||Total COVID-19 hospitalizations||Revolutionary hospitalizations of the COVID-19 vaccine||Percentage of unvaccinated|
Although 20% of cases and hospitalizations occurring in fully vaccinated individuals may be of concern about trends in vaccine efficacy, the health district said that should not be a cause for alarm. For example, older people are more likely to have been vaccinated and more likely to have serious illness if they are infected. This combination could result in lower apparent efficacy if age is not taken into account in the analysis.
Further study is underway to assess what recent data means for the vaccine’s current efficacy in preventing serious illness and infection. However, age-group analysis of efficacy data elsewhere suggests that protection against serious illness is indeed still strong in all age groups, the health district said. Local hospital leaders also report that it is rare to see fully vaccinated cases in the intensive care unit, unless there are additional factors like immunosuppression or advanced age.
In its most recent statewide transmission report, the Washington State Department of Health noted that “… if the general population were to know current hospitalization rates observed in the unvaccinated, the hospital system would be completely overwhelmed. “
Meanwhile, the recent increase in cases has not yet been associated with an increase in mortality locally.
|Month||Total COVID-19 deaths||Deaths linked to the breakthrough of the COVID-19 vaccine||Percentage of unvaccinated|
“From January to July, only four fully vaccinated residents died from COVID-19,” Spitters noted. “These vaccines do what they were designed to do, which is to save lives. “
In addition to the report, the health district also released new heat maps and zip codes through July 31. It is important to note that the Snohomish County zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates were also among the highest case rates during this period.
For more information on the COVID vaccine, including where to find a clinic near you, visit www.snohd.org/covidvaccine.
Mask warrant reinstated on August 23
Washington State Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, changed Order 20-03 requiring face masks for anyone over the age of 5 in most indoor public places, whatever the vaccination status. These include places like grocery stores, malls, gyms, and community centers. Masks are highly recommended in crowded outdoor environments like sporting events, fairs, and concerts where physical distancing is not possible. The updated ordinance will take effect on Monday, August 23.
The order follows recommendations from 35 local health workers in Washington state and recent changes to CDC guidelines that all people, regardless of immunization status, wear masks in indoor public places, in areas of high or high transmission. With the rise of the more infectious Delta variant, every county in Washington is currently classified as having substantial or high transmission.
Restoring mask requirements is needed in addition to increasing vaccinations, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Washington. The healthcare system is under immense pressure, in part due to the increased transmission of COVID-19, mainly among unvaccinated people.
There are a few exceptions to the indoor mask requirement, including:
- Children under 5 years old. However, children two to four years old can wear a mask under close adult supervision.
- People with a health problem or mental or medical disability that prevents them from wearing a mask
- Fully vaccinated workers who work alone or in an area not accessible to the public
- Athletes who practice indoor sports and actively participate in competitions or training (masks are always required on the sidelines and during team meetings)
- Small private gatherings indoors where everyone is vaccinated
- Children under 2 years old should not wear face covers due to the risk of suffocation
It is important to use and handle masks correctly. A mask should fit snugly over your mouth and nose, and it should not have holes or tears in the fabric. Fabric face covers should be washed frequently, ideally after each use, and certainly every day. If you are unable to wash it after each use, wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.
For more information on state mask requirements, visit www.doh.wa.gov/masks.
COVID Testing Site Calendar
The program for the week of August 23 is as follows:
- Everett site located at 3715 Oakes Avenue – Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Lynnwood Food Bank site at 5320 176th St. SW – open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Appointments for testing are required, and registration is available at www.snohd.org/testing.
Those who do not have internet access or need language assistance can contact the health district call center at 425.339.5278 to make an appointment for the test. The call center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers out of hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be resent the next business day.