Thurston County COVID-19 Case Rate Already Matches 2020's Peak Winter Rate

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Thurston County confirmed Monday that six more residents have died and 536 contracted COVID-19 in the past week.

Four men died due to COVID-19: one in his 40s, one in his 60s, one in his 70s and one in his 80s. Two women also died: one in her 80s and one in her 90s. The cases and deaths were added between Nov. 15-21, according to data from Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.

The weekly case count for the past week was greater than the previous week when PHSS reported six deaths and 519 cases. For the past five weeks, the county's weekly case counts have remained in the 500s.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 22,220 confirmed cases and 233 deaths in Thurston County, which has a population of more than 290,000. The county considers 21,095 cases recovered or recovering as of Monday — meaning 1,125 cases remained active.

The county's two-week case rate fell to 337.5 cases per 100,000 people between Oct. 31 to Nov. 13 after reaching 433 from Oct. 11-24, per data from the state Department of Health. The record high case rate in Thurston County was 523 from Aug. 19 to Sept. 1, the data show.

"While this is down from our most recent peak, we are about where we peaked last winter," Health Officer Dimyana Abdelmalek said. "More than 99% of cases sequenced in Washington state are still due to the delta variant."

Abdelmalek said the more infectious delta plus variant has been circulating in the state but not nearly to the same extent as the delta variant, she said during a Tuesday morning Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Looking ahead to the holidays, Abdelmalek said small gatherings in outdoor settings would present less risk than larger gatherings in indoor settings.

"My hope is that if we're all mindful as we gather during this holiday season, we can prevent another spike in COVID-19 from occurring in our county," Abdelmalek said.

The county reports it's responding to 13 ongoing outbreaks at congregate care settings. To date, there have been 104 such outbreaks.

At school settings, PHSS data indicates an outbreak of five cases prompted one closure in the Griffin School District from Nov. 8-14. Data has been updated only through Nov. 15.

Six people were hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19 over the past week, per PHSS. Since the start of the pandemic, the data show 1,380 people with COVID-19 have at some point been hospitalized.

The state reports the county had a hospitalization rate of 5.8 per 100,000 people between Nov. 7-13. This is down from a recent high of 11.7 from Nov. 2-8.

About 96% of the county's acute hospital beds were occupied as of Tuesday morning, PHSS director Schelli Slaughter said, and about 70% of intensive care unit beds were full.

County hospitals were treating 32 COVID-19 patients and 23 of them were on ventilators, she said Tuesday.

Over a seven-day period ending Sunday, about 88.2% of ICU beds were occupied in the West region, which includes Thurston County and some of its neighbors. The data show 15.2% of ICU beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients in the region.

Hospitals in the region were 93.9% full over a seven-day period as of Sunday, while COVID-19 patients accounted for 13%.

From February to October, state data show 75.4% of cases (9,444) in Thurston County were in unvaccinated individuals, while 19.7% of cases (2,467) were in fully vaccinated individuals, per state data.

Across the state, those 12 or older who were unvaccinated accounted for 75.8% (2,827) of COVID-19 deaths from Feb. 1 to Oct. 19. Those partially vaccinated made up 6.1% (229) of deaths and those fully vaccinated made up 18% (673) 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 59.2% of all Thurston residents were fully vaccinated as of Saturday and 64% had initiated vaccinations, per state data. The county's vaccination rate increased by less than a single-digit percentage point over the past week.

Meanwhile, the data show about 75.9% of Thurston residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations and 70.3% have been fully vaccinated.

As of Nov. 15, 80% of the state population 12 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73.9% 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, 74.5% of Thurston County residents 12 and older have initiated vaccinations and 68.9% had been fully vaccinated as of Nov. 20.

The state reports 38,016 people in Thurston County have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Across the state, 961,744 of its 7.6 million residents 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 Nov. 30, 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, but appointments are limited and must be made in advance. Over-the- counter COVID-19 antigen tests also are available at pharmacies.

In the region

— Pierce County had confirmed 95,638 total COVID-19 cases with 918 deaths as of Monday. Pierce County has a population of about 905,000.

— Grays Harbor County has seen a total of 9,272 confirmed and probable cases, with 145 deaths as of Sunday, according to state data. Grays Harbor County has a population of about 75,000.

— Lewis County has had a total of 10,776 confirmed and probable cases with 168 deaths as of Sunday, per state data. Lewis County has a population of almost 81,000.

— Mason County has reported 5,307 confirmed cases with 72 deaths as of Monday. Mason County has a population of almost 67,000.

In the state, nation and world

The state of Washington has reported a total of 766,008 COVID-19 cases and 9,139 deaths from the beginning of the pandemic to Sunday.

As of Nov. 5, the state estimated its effective reproductive number over time was 1.00 on Oct. 23, indicating the number of infected people likely remained constant. This metric measures the average number of new people that one COVID-19 positive person infects.

In the U.S., about 47.9 million COVID-19 cases had been reported as of Tuesday with more than 772,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. population is about 330 million.

Globally, nearly 258.5 million people had contracted the virus and over 5.1 million people had died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the data show.

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