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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJune 4, 2021
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – It has been 500 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was identified here in Snohomish County. In the 16 months since then, this county has weathered four waves of increasing cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Nearly 40,000 people in Snohomish County—roughly 1 in 20 residents—became reported cases. Based on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s COVID-19 disease burden estimates that only 1 in 4 infections were reported, it’s possible that as many as 150,000 more residents may have been infected but not diagnosed.
Close to 2,000 people in Snohomish County have been hospitalized since January 2020, along with 591 lives lost to COVID-19 that have left empty places at holiday tables and family get-togethers. However, the number of hospitalizations and deaths don’t give the full picture of COVID’s impact on our community.
While younger residents may have been spared from hospitalization, they are the ones more likely to have lasting impacts. Research studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Clinical Infectious Diseases suggest that up to 30-50% of COVID patient continue to experience fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, and/or other lingering symptoms. A recent report in Nature also highlighted what they found to be lasting health burdens on people, societies and economies. The health economists estimated that up to 30% of society’s health burden from COVID-19, across all age groups, is due to post-COVID disability.
Every age group and every part of the county has been impacted by this pandemic, and it will take quite some time to fully recover. But there is reason to be hopeful.
Case counts are on the decline again. The number of outbreaks, hospitalizations and deaths are slowing. Snohomish County is on a rebound, thanks in large part to the growing number of people getting vaccinated.
It’s been six months into the vaccination efforts and more than half of those 12 and older in the county are fully vaccinated. These individuals are able to get back to all of the activities they did prior to the pandemic, and without masks in most settings.
More normalcy is coming in just over three weeks, with the state set to reopen June 30. Schools are wrapping up the academic year filled with remote and hybrid learning, but in-class learning will be back in the fall. Vacations are being booked, summer pastimes are on the agenda again, and visits with friends and family are being planned.
“Things will likely continue to look a little different for quite some time, but relief is on the horizon,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “In order to stay on this path to recovery—and avoid any possible detours—we all need to continue masking up until vaxed up.”
The Health District’s Child Care Health Outreach team was honored to be one of 33 local health department programs in the nation to receive a 2021 Innovative Practice Award by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The award celebrates local health departments for developing innovative programs to meet the needs of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winning projects were determined through a competitive, peer-reviewed process, and the designation as a Bronze Innovative Practice demonstrates a high level of program innovation as well as reflecting collaboration, adaptability, and program resilience. The Child Care Health Outreach team was selected for their work in creating an online training course to disseminate accurate COVID-19 guidance practices for child care providers caring for children across the state.
The course not only provided upstream prevention strategies for controlling the spread of the virus in a child care environment, but participants received in-service credit for taking the course to contributing toward annual in-service credit requirements for licensing. Launched in May 2020, the course has been completed by more than 3,000 users in 35 of the 39 counties in Washington State.
Thanks to a partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics Washington Chapter (WCAAP), this course was offered free of charge for all child care providers in the state to ensure that financial or geographic barriers don’t prohibit providers from accessing the course. The course continues to be provided statewide at no cost using other funds secured by the Health District.
The Child Care Health Outreach program is a multidisciplinary team of health professionals, including a public health nurse, environmental health specialist, nutritionist and behavioral health specialist. This program has been providing health and safety services to child care providers in Snohomish County for over 20 years, and it’s one of only four such programs in Washington.
“This is quite an honor for the Health District,” said Dr. Spitters. “I’m incredibly proud of the team’s innovative work that benefits not only Snohomish County, but our entire state.”
NACCHO’s Diamond Affiliate Partner, Contakt World is sponsoring the 2021 Innovative Practice Award. As the 2021 award sponsor, Contakt World will award the Child Care Health Outreach Program a $2,000 in-kind contribution of their public health services. In addition, the department will receive a complementary registration to NACCHO’s annual conference, NACCHO 360.
Innovative Practices are exciting approaches and strategies to local public health issues that were developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and were creatively adapted to meet the circumstances of the pandemic. The Innovative Practices honors are awarded to local health departments across the country for implementing programs that can demonstrate exemplary of adaptable programs with replicable outcomes.
Read more about these award-winning practices at the Innovative Practices Database.
The schedule for the week of June 7 will be as follows:
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.