Lewis County hit a grim milestone Thursday, with 50 residents dead from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last year. The eight new deaths reported Thursday were the most Lewis County Public Health and Social Services has reported in a single day. Eight new positive diagnoses were also reported, bringing the county up to 3,222 cases since last March.
Of Thursday’s deaths, one person was in their 50s, one was in their 60s, two were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and two were in their 90s.
In general, Lewis County’s case rate has been on the decline, consistent with the state as a whole, which is coming down from its third — and most deadly — wave of COVID-19 infections.
However, the county’s metrics continue to lag behind its neighbors, which are lumped together in the West Region per the state’s reopening plan. Higher-than-average case rates, test positivity and hospitalizations continue to be reported in Lewis County.
According to state data, Lewis County’s hospitalization rate is more than three times as high as the state’s average.
As Washington and the country as a whole round the corner on a full year in a public health emergency, recent COVID-19 deaths also highlight the importance of distributing life-saving vaccines — a light at the end of the tunnel, but also a process fraught with technical, logistical and supply issues.
Earlier on Thursday, state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah suggested that metrics in Lewis County and around the state could get worse despite significant progress in distributing vaccines. New variants of COVID-19, some more easily transmissible, leave the state “on shaky ground,” he said.
As variants continue to spread in Washington, Shah said, “we’re likely to see increases in cases and hospitalizations, which could strain our health system resources.”