There are new warning signs in Snohomish County’s efforts to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, County Executive Dave Somers and Chief Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said Tuesday during their weekly coronavirus briefing.
“We are seeing some troubling trends,” Somers said.
For starters, a total of 75 new coronavirus cases were reported in just one day. That’s the largest daily number in more than two months.
In addition, health officials are investigating a party of more than 50 people over the weekend. One attendee at that event has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The health district does not know yet why there was a spike in the new cases reported Monday. Officials are still sifting through the data. But the one-day increase is the largest since April 9.
In contrast, Spitters said, the county recently has averaged between 75-100 new cases a week. And those past weekly numbers are right in line with state guidelines. Spitters says this new daily number of 75 is “a little alarming,” but he does not know if it shows a new trend. However, the number of people hospitalized is holding constant, he said, averaging 20-30 people each week.
The county has scheduled more drive-thru testing this coming week in the Everett area (McCollum Park), and in Snohomish. Asked about whether there will be test sites in South County, Spitters told reporters that the testing team is looking into it, but he does not know of specific plans yet.
You can register to take a test here.
Spitters said the health department is investigating the large party reported last weekend that violates the guidelines for public gatherings during Phase 2. The health district says it does not appear that people had worn masks or observed social distancing at the party; it is tracing all the attendees and those they have had contact with.
Spitters would not tell reporters where the party was held, including whether it was in North or South County. “We don’t want to worry people,” he said. “I could give a general part of the county but I don’t see that would help any. We try to honor people’s privacy; if you don’t hear from the health department in the next few days, you don’t have to worry.”
Somers says it appears that businesses reopening in Phase 2 are taking precautions including staff wearing masks, providing social distancing and monitoring employee health. He told reporters he is not aware of any health safety violations. His personal experience over the weekend leads him to believe that the several stores he was in have done a “really good job” with precautions. He gives business an “A” for effort; a “B” for execution.
The health district is asking people to forward questions or complaints to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. There was one report about conditions at a plant nursery near Snohomish; that has been turned over to the Attorney General.
What about moving on to Phase 3 reopening? Not yet, say both county leaders. Somers’ office has begun to work on that application, but they are still checking the data to see if enough progress has been made. Snohomish County is currently in the third week of Phase 2 and, if the information checks out, could apply for Phase 3 as early as next week. Neither Somers nor Spitters would promise that.
— By Bob Throndsen