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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 29, 2021
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Governor Inslee announced a modification to the Roadmap to Recovery plan, allowing regions to move forward if three of four metrics are met. The Puget Sound Region met three metrics and will move to Phase 2.
The following activities will now become permissible when Snohomish County moves to Phase 2 on Monday, February 1:
Rather than weekly updates, the Washington State Department of Health will update data by region every other Friday. Regions that continue to meet at least three of the four criteria will remain in Phase 2. However, if a region drops to two of four metrics, it will move back to Phase 1.
“This is good news and I am grateful for everyone’s efforts and sacrifices to get us here, but we can’t celebrate too soon or let our guard down,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “While case counts and hospital numbers are going down, absolute numbers and rates of cases, deaths, and hospitalization are still at very concerning levels. We have lost more than 70 residents to COVID since the beginning of the year. We’re far from out of the woods and still in a precarious position.”
As announced earlier this week, two cases of the B.1.1.7 variant were detected in Snohomish County through laboratory surveillance testing. While potentially identifying details about the individuals cannot be released, they have recovered and were not hospitalized. Public health interviews found no travel involved and they acquired the infection in Snohomish County.
Although these are the first detected B.1.1.7 variants in the state, current estimates suggest that 0.2% of COVID infections on Washington State are due to this strain. It is likely that other cases exist and will be found through ongoing surveillance. While cause for concern, there is no need for alarm. It was only a matter of time for one of the variants to emerge here in Washington.
This variant has been shown to be more transmissible, meaning it’s easier to spread from one person to another. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipates that due to this faster capacity to spread, the B.1.1.7 variant may be the predominant circulating strain in the United States within a few months.
“The jury is still out on whether this strain is associated with greater severity of infection, but according to public health officials in England that is a realistic possibility” noted Dr. Spitters. “Also, the higher rate of transmission associated with this strain could lead to more cases, increasing the number of people who need hospitalization and further burdening an already strained health care system. That’s why it is even more important than ever that we all continue to consistently take the steps we’ve been doing for a year to prevent the spread of the virus.”
State Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Kaiser Permanente Washington president Susan Mullaney announced plans to equitably and safely vaccinate Washington educators and school staff. The plan is designed to be launch ready Washington moves into Phase 1b2 of the phased prioritization plan. Superintendent Reykdal estimated that would happen in approximately 4-6 weeks.
The plan will include dedicated vaccine resources and space provided by Kaiser Permanente at its owned and operated clinics as well as K-12 school locations for both member and non-member school employees. School districts are encouraged to maintain existing vaccination plans already in development, but a website will offer centrally accessible information about timing, scheduling, and more.
For more information, see OSPI’s press release.
The Health District has made schedule modifications to its community based testing sites:
Testing is by appointment only and registration is now open at www.snohd.org/testing. Those without internet access or needing language assistance can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.
Testing is open to anyone, regardless of symptoms, but remains strongly encouraged for individuals that fit the following criteria: