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Snohomish Health District Media Releases

Posted on: April 9, 2021

Social Gatherings are Leading Cause of Rising COVID-19 Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2021

CONTACT:
Heather Thomas, 425.339.8688
hthomas@snohd.org

Social Gatherings are Leading Cause of Rising COVID-19 Cases

Limiting nonessential gatherings and consistent mask usage are the keys to bending curve

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – For the third week in a row, Snohomish County’s case rate has continued its climb in the wrong direction. The rolling two-week case rate now sits at 121 per 100,000 for the period ending April 6. 

A review of recent cases and outbreaks finds that gatherings continue to be the leading contributor. These have included baby showers, camping trips, high school sports, and get togethers for church, in peoples’ homes, and at restaurants and bars. 

“I know people are wondering how cases are rising while vaccination rates are also rising. But as we’ve been sharing for weeks, we are very clearly not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “These recent cases are largely in settings where people let their guard down around friends, family and coworkers.”

With 38% of the population having initiated vaccination and 23% completed, Snohomish County simply hasn’t reached a sufficient proportion of the population to interrupt the transmission of this very difficult to contain virus. A real slowing of COVID cases may not be seen until 80% or more of the population is fully vaccinated.  

“We still have several months where we are relying on everyone to remain vigilant in wearing their masks,” added Dr. Spitters. “There will soon come a day when this is all behind us. When we can enjoy hugs and parties and other favorite past-times. But today is not that day. Nor will it be tomorrow.”

Until then, a plea with people to think twice about non-essential gatherings, and to keep those masks on and that 6’ distance from people they don’t live with. It’s also important to have windows or doors open to increase ventilation. It’s not forever. Just for now. 

Please hold on longer so Snohomish County can get to the other side. 

Don’t Wait to Donate Blood

Bloodworks Northwest is reporting that local blood supplies are running dangerously low at a time when blood use by Pacific Northwest hospitals is higher than normal and rising. Blood donors are urged to continue their vital role in sustaining community health by donating at Bloodworks centers or pop-up blood drives across the Pacific Northwest.

It typically takes 1,000 donors to meet community need. In recent weeks, Bloodworks needs an additional 300 donors a week to keep up with hospital requests for blood. Not sure whether you’re eligible to donate blood? There are some basic qualifications to donate—typically you’ll need to be at least 18, at least 110 pounds and in good health. But many other factors, like travel, tattoos, and vaccinations people think might disqualify them aren’t true. 

“Donating blood has no impact on your eligibility to receive the vaccine, nor do you need wait to donate blood after receiving the vaccine,” said Dr. Spitters. “Donated blood is critical for cancer patients, premature babies, and moms who experience complications during delivery need lifesaving blood transfusions.”

All donations are by appointment only. The one-hour donation appointment is a safe and essential action to support local hospitals and patients. The pop-up centers are being conducted in accordance with social distancing guidelines. No walk-ins, guests, or people under age 16 are permitted onsite. All donors are required to wear masks during their appointment. Bloodworks has posted information addressing questions and concerns for blood donors at bloodworksnw.org/coronavirus. To make an appointment, call 1-800-398-7888 or visit schedule.bloodworksnw.org.

Vaccines for Adolescents

Beginning April 15, all people 16 years of age and older will be eligible to be vaccinated. There are a few important reminders when vaccinating minors: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for those 16 years of age and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are authorized for people 18 and older at this time. Please verify what vaccine brand is available at a location prior to making an appointment. 
  • Those age 16 or 17 may need consent from a parent or guardian to get the vaccine, unless they are legally emancipated. Providers may have different requirements for documenting consent, so please call ahead to find out what is needed. In general, Washington law does not allow unemancipated minors the right to consent to COVID-19 vaccination. 
  • Please do not seek or schedule appointments for ineligible minors.

At the mass vaccination sites operated by the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce, people who are 16 and older may be vaccinated with parent or guardian consent for the Pfizer vaccine. An adult parent or legal guardian must accompany anyone under 18 to the vaccination appointment to sign the consent form on site. They should also bring identification showing proof of age for the minor, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate. The registration process is the same as for any other eligible patient – they can sign up via the registration links at http://bit.ly/snocovaccine or call the call center at 425-339-5278.

For minors who sign up for appointments at sites that are not administering Pfizer, they will be contacted by email with an appointment cancelation because the other vaccines are not yet authorized for ages 16 and 17. They provide date of birth during registration, which allows us to notify them if they have registered for a vaccine that is not authorized for their age group. Appointments for those under 16 at sites offering Pfizer will be cancelled, as well appointments for those 17 years of age and younger at sites offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. If a minor appears at a Snohomish County mass vaccination site unaccompanied or without consent from their parent or legal guardian, or without validation of age, they will be turned away without vaccination.  

Trials are underway on vaccines for younger children. On April 2, Johnson & Johnson announced that it is expanding its vaccine trial to include adolescents 12 to 17 years of age. The vaccine will initially be tested in a small number of teens age 16 to 17. Following review of initial data, the study will expand to a larger group of younger adolescents.  

This news comes on the heels of Pfizer-BioNTech’s announcement recent trials show their vaccine is safe and 100% effective for adolescents age 12 to 15. They plan to submit an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to request expansion of the Emergency Use Authorization to this age group soon. Pfizer-BioNTech is also work on trials for three younger age groups: children aged 5 to 11 years, 2 to 5 years, and 6 months to 2 years. The 5 to 11 year-old cohort started in late-March and the 2 to 5 year-old cohort in early-April.

Moderna is also studying the safety and effectiveness of its vaccine on children. The company is currently conducting two clinical trials, including one for adolescents age 12 to 17. The second trial is for children age 6 months to 11 years old. 

“All this news is exciting and holds a lot of promise,” notes Dr. Spitters. “But it also means we’re still many months from having vaccines available for all ages. The emergency effort to vaccinate all adults in the county remains our number one priority.”

Until vaccines are authorized by the FDA for those 15 years of age and younger, it’s important that youth, parents and guardians ensure that all public health prevention measures are followed consistently. This means masking up and keeping a distance from people they don’t live with—each and every time—and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.  

COVID Testing Schedule

The schedule for the week of April 12 remains as follows:

  • Everett site located at 3715 Oakes Avenue – Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Lynnwood Food Bank site at 5320 176th St SW – open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Evergreen State Fairgrounds in the front parking lot off of 179th Ave SE in Monroe – open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Appointments for testing are encouraged, and registration is available 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 to schedule a testing appointment. 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.

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