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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 2, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, email@example.com
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced a two-week pause on all counties moving forward in the phases until at least July 16. This is to allow more time to see where the numbers are heading, and to give more time for face covering requirements to take hold.
“Like Governor Inslee and Secretary Wiesman, we are very concerned about the recent increase in cases being reported,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District. “This is what caused us last week to put a pause on plans for Phase 3. The numbers have continued to go in the wrong direction, with our case rates having doubled in Snohomish County since the beginning of June.”
This is not due to an increase in testing. The number of tests submitted weekly has been stable, but the numbers of positive results are increasing. Local health care providers are also reporting increased demand for testing from people with COVID symptoms.
“We are in a very precarious situation and need everyone in Snohomish County working together to again flatten the curve and get back on track,” added Dr. Spitters. “If we all follow the guidelines for Phase 2, limit non-essential trips, wear face coverings when out of the home, maintain that social distancing, and practice good hand hygiene, we’ll hopefully be in a better position to move forward when eligible.”
The Health District is still providing updates Monday-Friday of total confirmed, total probable, and a breakdown of cases by city. A weekly report is now being posted on Fridays, providing a more detailed analysis of cases in Snohomish County from the prior week.
The report for the week ending June 27 has now been posted, as well as the updated COVID-19 activity snapshot that provides metrics aligned with the Phase 2 approval. Key highlights for the time period from June 10-25 include:
There have been some questions received on why these updates do not match information on the Phases and Risk Assessment Dashboard provided by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). The data online change every day when new cases get reported. This is because the newly reported cases on any given day have a variety of different specimen collection dates. DOH’s dashboard is updated frequently, whereas the Health District’s report is a weekly snapshot. Overall, these are negligible, technical differences that do not affect the information and general impression provided by the data.
The Phase 2 social gathering rules apply – no more than five people outside of your household in a seven-day period. That means a small get-together with family or a few friends is allowed to celebrate the holiday, but not a large barbecue or festival. That’s a damper on many plans, but a large gathering can spread COVID quickly. One positive case at a gathering can mean that dozens of people need to quarantine, get tested, and may potentially become ill and spread the illness to others in their own households or social circles.
The Health District continues to recommend that individuals who attend any large gathering remain at home for 14 days following the event. It is especially important to follow this recommendation when attending an event where not all attendees can be identified or where social distancing was not maintained.
As a reminder, quarantine means staying at home for the full 14-day duration of time following possible exposure. This means not going to work, visiting with others or having guests over, or running errands. People should not leave their home except for a medical appointment or to get tested.
Not only are large gatherings at a higher risk of becoming a super-spreader event, but they also present significant challenges to public health staff in being able to quickly identify and contact those potentially exposed. Both of these impact target metrics needed for future phases in the Safe Start plan, and potentially jeopardize remaining the current phase or having to go backward to Phase 1.
The schedule for the week of July 6 is as follows:
Testing will continue to be available to those who are:
Registration is now open at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
The community is encouraged to help prevent the spread of illness and to support the response to this outbreak by staying informed and sharing reliable information. This is a very fluid situation and information will be updated at www.snohd.org/ncov2019 and the Health District’s social media channels.