FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2021
Kari Bray, 425.339.5223
To fight climbing cases and delta variant, all urged to mask up in public indoor spaces
Universal masking helps protect those who are unvaccinated and offers an extra layer of protection even for those who are fully vaccinated.
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Snohomish Health District Health Officer Chris Spitters will be available to answer questions during a virtual availability at 2 p.m. on Monday, July 26.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/98501236844?pwd=SXVJd3Z3T1Badk5NSU1ETEFzNjdKdz09
Meeting ID: 985 0123 6844; Passcode: 741969
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – COVID-19 case rates here have increased in recent weeks, and there have been dozens of outbreaks and hospitalizations so far in the month of July.
In light of the case counts, hospitalizations and the highly transmissible delta variant, the Snohomish Health District’s Health Officer has joined other public health leaders in reiterating the importance of vaccination and urging masking for everyone entering a public indoor space, regardless of vaccination status.
Dr. Chris Spitters joined fellow local health officers in issuing the following statement Monday morning:
The health officers of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Grays Harbor counties have joined together to pass on their best public health advice to protect you, your family, and our communities. We recommend all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where the vaccination status of those around you is unknown. This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state and decrease the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Vaccinations are our best defense against COVID-19 and are safe, effective, and readily available for everyone age 12 and over. Please get yours immediately if you are not already vaccinated.
This is of particular importance in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters and family entertainment centers to help ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings and as an extra precautionary measure for all. The signed statement is available here, as well as a separate document addressing questions. To help businesses that want to ask all patrons to mask up before entering, a printable sign is available for download, as well.
“Our goal is to up the community’s game in masking by ensuring easy verification for all present in these types of public indoor settings that unvaccinated people are masked and to encourage vaccination for all eligible unvaccinated people as soon as possible,” Spitters said. “Even fully vaccinated people can maximize their protection through this added layer of prevention. Protect yourself, protect others. Mask up in public and get vaccinated now.”
From July 1-20, the Snohomish Health District received reports of 28 outbreaks. There were 42 people hospitalized with COVID-19 between July 1-17, and five deaths. About 70% of hospitalizations so far in July were people who were not fully vaccinated, and most had not initiated vaccination at all. Four of the five deaths were people who had not been vaccinated.
Nearly 437,000 people in Snohomish County are fully vaccinated. Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19, and greatly decreases the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization and death.
No vaccine is 100 percent effective, and it is still possible to become ill with COVID even if you are fully vaccinated. There have been 507 total breakthrough cases reported in Snohomish County from February to July 20. A breakthrough case is someone who tests positive more than two weeks after receiving their last dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Breakthrough cases tend to have a less severe illness than people who have not been vaccinated and are an expected event as more and more of the population is vaccinated. Even with occasional breakthrough infections and the more contagious delta variant circulating widely, the risk of getting COVID or dying from COVID in Snohomish County during the month of July has been nearly 10 times higher for unvaccinated people compared to those who are fully vaccinated.
Because you still can get ill, though, masking up in public indoor spaces even after vaccination is a good idea. There are many in the community who have not yet been vaccinated, including children under the age of 12 who do not yet have a vaccine authorized for them. We also have thousands of immunosuppressed residents whose response to the vaccine is not as good as for people with normal immune systems. Universal masking helps protect them, too. It is also an extra layer of protection with highly contagious variants, particularly the delta variant, circulating in the community.
COVID disease intervention specialists with the Snohomish Health District shared some of their observations about the fifth wave of COVID infection in our community:
- There is more household spread already having occurred by the time we reach them.
- Venues where high transmission has occurred include churches, sports camps or practices, weddings, and social gatherings.
- Travel is increasing, and there have been reports of people who have traveled while contagious. Sometimes – but not always – the person was unaware that they should have been in quarantine at the time of travel.
- There has been an increase in unvaccinated younger people who are becoming very ill and requiring hospitalization.
- Many patients have shared with disease investigators that, now that they’ve experienced COVID, they wish they had gotten the vaccine.
- Because most unvaccinated individuals are in the age group that is likely to be employed and back at work, it is becoming more common to have workplace outbreaks where someone requires hospitalization.
- Unvaccinated patients are reporting higher fevers and more severe symptoms than breakthrough cases.
- People seem to be more inclined to be vaccinated when family and friends are vaccinated. “Vaccines save lives, would be the overall moral of my story,” noted one disease intervention specialist.
It is important to answer calls from public health staff if you have been exposed or become ill with COVID. This helps public health work with individuals or groups to reduce the spread of disease and allows you to get accurate information on how to keep yourself and those around you safe.
If you are exposed to someone who has confirmed COVID-19, remember to follow quarantine guidance. If you test sooner than four days after exposure, you may receive a negative test result and have a false sense of security, then develop symptoms later. A negative test does not change quarantine timelines, and those who are unvaccinated – as well as those who are vaccinated but who develop any symptoms – need to quarantine for the full period.
Anyone who has been exposed or who develops symptoms of COVID-19 can contact their healthcare provider or go to one of the drive-thru testing sites to get tested. They should also stay isolated at home until they receive their test results.
COVID Testing Site Schedule
The schedule for the week of July 25 is 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.
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.