Thurston County Adds Two More COVID-19 Deaths, Cases Rise to 601

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Thurston County confirmed Monday two more residents died and 601 contracted COVID-19 in the past week.

Two men died due to COVID-19: one in his 70s and another in his 90s. Thurston County Public Health and Social Services added the cases and deaths between Dec. 20-26.

There have been 24,516 confirmed cases and 252 deaths in the county from March 2020 to Sunday, per PHSS. The county considers 23,353 cases recovered or recovering as of Monday — meaning 1,164 cases remained active.

The county recorded nearly 100 more cases during the past week compared to the previous week when PHSS reported four deaths and 508 cases. However, the data dashboard noted the latest tally remained incomplete as of Monday afternoon.

About 73% of new cases across the United States are caused by the more transmissible omicron variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a Dec. 23 letter, Health Officer Dimyana Abdelmalek called on residents to limit gatherings with people outside of their household, physical distance, wear masks and get vaccinated.

"Omicron spreads the way previous variants have spread, through droplets and aerosols," she said. "This means that during this holiday season it is even more important to stay vigilant."

State data for Thurston County indicates disease transmission rates may have plateaued ahead of the December holidays. The county's two-week case rate reached 282.8 per 100,000 people between Dec. 1-14 after reaching 284.5 between Nov. 17-30.

The record high case rate in the county was 523 from Aug. 19 to Sept. 1, the data show.

Regarding outbreaks, the county reports its responding to 11 ongoing outbreaks at congregate care settings. To date, there have been 114 such outbreaks.

At school settings, PHSS data indicates there has been four closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks from Nov. 13-26.

One closure involving nine cases affected an Olympia School District setting between Dec. 20-26. Another closure in the Olympia School District involved five cases between Dec. 13-19.

Meanwhile, North Thurston Public Schools had one closure involving 11 cases and Yelm Community Schools had one closure involving four cases.

Since the start of the pandemic, the data show 1,477 people with COVID-19 have been hospitalized at some point. Last week, the county reported 1,470 people had been hospitalized.

The state reports the county had a hospitalization rate of 6.5 per 100,000 people between Dec. 8-14. This rate has been fluctuating below 10 after reaching a recent low of 5.5 from Nov. 8-14.

About 89.7% of ICU beds over a seven-day period were occupied in the West region, which includes Thurston County and some of its neighbors, as of Thursday. The data show 18.7% of ICU beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients in the region as well.

Hospitals in the region were 92.4% full over a seven-day period as of Sunday, per the data, while COVID-19 patients accounted for 9.9%.

From February to November, state data show 73.8% of cases (10,409) in Thurston County were in unvaccinated individuals. Meanwhile, just 21.4% of cases (3,014) were in fully vaccinated individuals, per state data.

Across the state, those who were unvaccinated accounted for 75.5% (3,400) of all 12 and older COVID-19 deaths from Feb. 1 to Nov. 23. Those partially vaccinated made up 5.5% (247) of deaths and those fully vaccinated made up 19% (857) of deaths, the data show.

PHSS does not share the vaccination status of those who die due to COVID-19 in Thurston County because they do not have access to that data, a county spokesperson previously said.

Vaccinations and tests

Just 60.4% of all Thurston residents were fully vaccinated as of Monday, Dec. 20 and 65.9% had initiated vaccinations, per state data.

Meanwhile, the data show about 78.2% of Thurston residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations and 71.7% have been fully vaccinated.

As of Dec. 20, 82.2% of the state population 12 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75.6% had been fully vaccinated. This percentage includes aggregate data from the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs, both of which are not entirely reflected in the state's data dashboard.

For comparison, 76.7% of Thurston County residents 12 and older have initiated vaccinations and 70.3% had been fully vaccinated as of Dec. 20, per the latest data.

The state reports 69,796 people (about 24%) in Thurston County have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Across the state, just over 1.7 million people have gotten a booster.

Thurston County PHSS continues to offer free vaccination events every week. Events are listed on their coronavirus vaccine information website.

Eligible residents 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.

There have been no updates to COVID-19 testing data since Sept. 15. PHSS says the state Department of Health paused this data release to increase capacity so it can process an increasing number of tests.

The DOH does not expect to restart its reporting of testing data until about Dec. 30 due to an "unexpected delay," according to its data dashboard.

PHSS offers testing at various locations throughout the county, but this is limited to people with symptoms or who may have been exposed by a close contact.

People also can get tested at pharmacies such as Rite Aid and Walgreens. Over-the- counter COVID-19 antigen tests also are available at pharmacies.

In the region

— Pierce County had confirmed 101,193 total COVID-19 cases with 962 deaths as of Dec. 21. Pierce County has a population of about 927,000.

— Grays Harbor County has seen a total of 10,064 confirmed and probable cases, with 153 deaths as of Dec. 22, according to state data. Grays Harbor County has a population of about 75,000.

— Lewis County has had a total of 11,685 confirmed and probable cases with 187 deaths as of Dec. 22, per state data. Lewis County has a population of almost 83,000.

— Mason County has reported 5,796 confirmed cases with 84 deaths as of Dec. 22. Mason County has a population of about 69,000.

In the state, nation and world

The state of Washington has reported a total of 813,741 COVID-19 cases and 9,784 deaths from the beginning of the pandemic to Dec. 22.

As of Dec. 10, the state estimated its effective reproductive number over time was 1.24 on Dec. 4, indicating the number of infected people has been likely increasing. This metric measures the average number of new people that one COVID-19 positive person infects.

In the U.S., about 52.6 million COVID-19 cases had been reported as of Monday with over 817,726 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. population is about 330 million.

Globally, more than 281.1 million people had contracted the virus and over 5.4 million people had died of COVID-19 as of Monday, the data show.