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  • Emma W.M

This Week in Snohomish County COVID-19 News

Vaccination availability, possible return to phase two protocol, and commentary on the ongoing impact of the pandemic crisis on the residents of Snohomish County, WA.

 

We move forward into May 2021 with cautious optimism and more than a little trepidation. We have the infrastructure to vaccinate our residents! What a milestone to celebrate!


But that is tempered with ongoing covid-19 news. As of April 20th, Snohomish County announced that locally a 4th wave of virus infections is still surging upwards in number. We are now in the 7th straight week of increasing infection count. Over the past two weeks alone, 1,400 cases in the county have been recorded. That's a rate of 223 people infected per 100,000.


This increase is correlated with the observation of residents displaying a false sense of security. For example, people engaging in reckless behavior such as meeting in large groups without masks in public. Just three weeks ago, I (the author) saw across the street from my apartment a flash protest mob outside of the Downtown Everett Planned Parenthood. It involved a Pro-life musician music concert with full tech set-up and a large gathering of maskless attendees. The police were present and the event dissolved within several hours.


Along with the continuation of COVID safety policies fewer people are lining up to get the vaccine than were doing so at the start of vaccine availability (January 2021). This is despite significant increase in dose accessibility this past week.

Snohomish County has been in Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington State Reopening Plan since the start of March. But with the rocketing infections, it's highly likely that Snohomish County will revert back to Phase 2 on May 3rd*. That's when the State reevaluates the situation and determines what phase is safest for the populace. In order to stay in Phase 3, the rate of covid cases per two weeks must stay below 200 per 100,000 residents.


*Update: May 3rd, 2021: Updated data for Snohomish County shows that there will be a phase rollback. Upon official announcement from Governor Jay Inslee, May 8th will be when Phase 2 goes into effect once again.


School Concerns:


Upon returning to phase two, in-person public school attendance from pre-k through grade 12 may shift back to operating primarily over Zoom. Four Snohomish county moms of school-age kids were remotely interviewed on May 2nd via the Facebook Group 'Moms of Snohomish County'. Their main concern was that, in their opinions, local governments had "opened up", or lifted restrictions, too fast. They also all mentioned the impact of virtual school attendance versus in person attendance on their families.


Interviewer: Snohomish County is likely to switch back to Phase 2 due to a 4th wave of Covid cases rising. If so, it's going to be announced on Wednesday. What are your thoughts? How will this impact your family? Kelly Crystal R.C.: I think I saw this coming the whole time... our kids going back to school is where most germs come from, in my opinion. Marcy L: I think it's all opening too soon. We kept our kids remote for school. Erica M: Marcy, I agree; we are also continuing to stay remote. Kelly Crystal R.C.: My boys go to school days two a week and only have nine kids in their class for distancing. I love this because they get to be social, [to have] other lives other than at home, they get their village back instead of just their parents.

Relatedly, upcoming senior graduation events will have to alter ceremonial proceedings. To abide by phase two protocols, only 400 people can be physically present in order to follow social distancing and masking protocols.

Possible suggestions for last-minute-scrambling organizers include:


  1. Holding multiple staggered mini-graduations for each school's graduating class so all students and families have an in person experience

  2. Holding the events completely virtual through Zoom

  3. Holding a socially distanced outdoors event, such as having seniors drive by and pick up their diplomas while teachers wave

  4. Holding a hybrid attendence event, with student presence optional. A ticket lottery could determine what guests and faculty (if any) can attend in person


News to be Hopeful About:


Snohomish now has 7 mass vaccination sites, with same day appointment booking as well as weekend availability. If you haven't been vaccinated yet, watch the following tutorial video to learn how easy it is to sign up online.





Snohomish County's Health officials estimate that we will have approximately 85% of residents vaccinated by the start of Fall. More so, if people are proactive about visiting their local pharmacies and the mass vaccination sites to be inoculated against the pandemic virus.


What Can We Do?


Now, more than ever, it's critical for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Washington State's Health Department warns that on top of the standard COVID-19 virus infecting our communities, there has been a detected 32% rise of virus variants in the state. Included with these variants are the B.1.1.7 and the P.1. Last Thursday, Governor Inslee gave an important press briefing to address this situation. He said, explaining the findings of state health officials:


"We have simultaneously a new weapon in the fight against this pandemic, mainly this incredibly safe and effective vaccine. Simultaneously we have effectively a new threat, a more powerful and dangerous threat... "There is a series of new variants, of mutant strains, that are much more transmittable ... than the original strain of the virus, and that means that every person who is infected now is much more dangerous of infecting other people around them...There is considerable evidence that these variants also are more dangerous, particularly to younger people potentially, to have more severe illness."

“The challenge we’re having right now is we cannot vaccinate our way out of increasing disease levels,” Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for the state’s COVID-19 response, said during a related briefing. “We are going to have to use the tools that are available to all of us to slow the spread.”


 

You can use the following infographic to brush up on the tools at your disposal. If you have children, we suggest printing this out and attaching it to the inside of your front door as a visual reminder to act safely each time they prepare to leave the house.




 

This pandemic has been long and it isn't over yet. We all need to work together to ensure as healthy of a social environment as possible.

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