Thurston County saw more than triple the number of COVID-19 cases and over five times the number of deaths in August than it did in July.
State data show the county added 3,164 cases, 183 hospitalizations and 40 deaths in August. For comparison, the county saw 858 cases, 67 hospitalizations and seven deaths in July.
The added cases and deaths are part of a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the more transmissible delta variant — a wave that is by far the worst the county has endured. The unprecedented surge has strained local hospitals and lengthened wait times for some emergency services.
The fifth wave started to take off in mid-July. Between June 21 and July 4, the state reported there were 76.3 cases per 100,000 people in Thurston County. This jumped to a record high case rate of 520.6 between Aug. 11-24, the data show.
Between Aug. 23-29, state data indicates the seven-day hospitalization rate per 100,000 people in Thurston County reached 17.7. This was up from a rate of 2.8 recorded between June 23-29, per the data.
Over the past three months, the data show the percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients increased from 4.5% between July 4-10 to 21.9% between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4.
Disease activity from the fourth wave had slowed by mid-June, according to the data. In the entire month of June, the county added 682 cases, 68 hospitalizations and six deaths. So far, there has been no decrease in the fifth wave.
Since the pandemic started, the state has reported 15,896 total cases, 1,034 hospitalizations and 164 deaths for Thurston County.
Still, neighboring counties have had worse case rates than Thurston County. Most notably, Lewis County's case rate climbed from 93.5 per 100,000 people between June 25 and July 8 to 1,135.2 between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1, according to state data.
To the west, Grays Harbor County saw a case rate of 879.3 between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1, per the data. This is up from 76.3 recorded between June 10-23.
Mason County's case rate increased from 43.6 from June 5-18 to 712.9 from Aug. 10-23, per the data. Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1, the data indicates the county's case rate dropped to 685.5.
State data for Pierce County shows a case rate of 676.7 between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1. The case rate had previously climbed from 61.4 between June 22 and July 5 to 680.9 between Aug. 13-26.
Summer vaccination progress
Meanwhile, the number of fully vaccinated residents in Thurston County has increased by about 11.1% over the past three months as uptake remained sluggish.
Data from June 5 indicated about 47.5% of the county population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 41.7% had been fully vaccinated. As of Monday, state data show just 58.1% had received at least one dose and 52.8% had been fully vaccinated.
The county's goal has been to initiate vaccinations in 70% of the 16 and older county population.
Back on June 5, the state reported 58.8% of people 16 and older had received at least one dose and 51.6% had been fully vaccinated. However, data from Saturday show just 67.7% of the 16 and older population has initiated vaccination and 61.5% have been fully vaccinated.
The state announced it reached the 70% vaccination goal for those 16 and older on July 14. As of Monday, state data show the 73.2% of the same population has initiated vaccinations.
Thurston County PHSS is still offering free vaccination events every week. Events are listed on their coronavirus vaccine information website. Residents also can find appointments at local providers such as pharmacies by visiting the state's Vaccine Locator website. Many supermarket pharmacies are taking walk-ins for vaccines.
Those who have difficulty scheduling appointments online can call the Department of Health vaccine hotline at 888-856-5816 or the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services line at 360-867-2610. Information for Spanish speakers is available at these numbers as well.