Thurston County Logs Record High COVID-19 Cases This Past Week as Omicron Takes Over


Thurston County has confirmed a record 1,658 new COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths from Dec. 27 to Jan. 2.

The last time Thurston County reported no deaths from COVID in a week was early August.

An additional 468 cases were added on Monday.

There have been 26,174 confirmed cases and 252 deaths in the county from March 2020 to Sunday, according to Public Health and Social Services. PHSS considers 23,504 cases recovered or recovering on Monday — meaning 3,138 cases remained active.

The county recorded almost three times more cases during the past week compared to the previous week when PHSS reported two deaths and 601 cases. The increase occurred as the more transmissible Omicron as rapidly becoming the dominant variant in the United States.

About 95.4% of recorded new cases across the United States were caused by the Omicron variant from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first reported cases in the United States were identified in early December.

State data for Thurston County indicates the disease transmission rate has skyrocketed. The county's two-week case rate reached 720.6 per 100,000 people between Dec. 12-25 after falling to about 290 between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11.

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

The county reports it is responding to 23 ongoing outbreaks at congregate care settings. As of Sunday, there have been 126 such outbreaks since the pandemic began.

PHSS data indicates there were 12 COVID-19 closures due to outbreaks in school settings — all during extracurricular activities — from Dec. 20-26.

Two closures involved 17 cases in the North Thurston Public Schools, four closures involved 25 cases within Olympia School District and two closures involved nine cases within Tumwater School District.

Additionally, one closure involved four cases within Rainier School District, one closure involved six cases within the Rochester School District and two closures involving 10 cases at Yelm Community Schools.

Since the start of the pandemic, the data show 1,527 people with COVID-19 have been hospitalized at some point. Last week, the county noted 13 people had been hospitalized.

The state reports the county had a hospitalization rate of 12.4 per 100,000 people between Dec. 19-25. Though this rate has recently risen, it has still not matched the county's record of 19.9 between Aug. 20-26.

As of Sunday, about 92.2% of ICU beds over a seven-day period were occupied in the West region, which includes Thurston County and some of its neighbors. The data show 28.5% of ICU beds in the region were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals in the region were 91.5% full over a seven-day period ending Sunday, per the data, while COVID-19 patients accounted for 15.3%.

From February to November, state data show 73.8% of cases (10,406) in Thurston County were in unvaccinated individuals. Meanwhile, 21.4% of cases (3,018) were in fully vaccinated individuals, per state data.

Across the state, those who were unvaccinated accounted for 75.3% (3,474) of all 12 and older COVID-19 deaths from Feb. 1 to Nov. 30. Those partially vaccinated made up 5.4% (251) of deaths and those fully vaccinated made up 19.2% (886) 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 60.7% of all Thurston residents were fully vaccinated as of Saturday, and 66.4% had initiated vaccinations, per state data.

Meanwhile, the data show about 78.8% of Thurston residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations and 72% are 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% were 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, 77.3% of Thurston County residents 12 and older have initiated vaccinations and 70.6% had been fully vaccinated as of Jan. 1, per the latest data.

The state reports 76,774 people (about 26%) in Thurston County have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Across the state, just over 1.9 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 Feb. 28 after repeated delays.

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. Technical issues prevented Pierce County from updating its dashboard on Monday, however it notes cases have been increasing rapidly. Pierce County has a population of about 927,000.

• Grays Harbor County has seen a total of 10,543 confirmed and probable cases, with 155 deaths as of Sunday, according to state data. Grays Harbor County has a population of about 75,000.

• Mason County has reported 5,975 confirmed cases with 84 deaths as of Monday. Mason County has a population of about 69,000.

In the State, Nation and World

The state of Washington has reported a total of 882,144 COVID-19 cases and 9,853 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to Monday.

In the U.S., about 56.3 million COVID-19 cases had been reported as of Monday with over 828,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. population is about 330 million.

Globally, more than 293.2 million people had contracted the virus and over 5.4 million people had died of COVID-19 as of Monday, the data show.