By: Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Snohomish County will not be moving into Phase 3 by the Fourth of July weekend, County Executive Dave Somers and Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said Friday, June 26, during a briefing about the county’s response to COVID-19.
“This is the first day that we would technically be allowed to apply for the next phase,” explained Somers. “Unfortunately we are not going to be able to do that today… I know if we applied today we would be denied.”
Exactly three weeks have passed since Snohomish County moved into Phase 2 of the Washington Safe Start plan. The earliest the county could’ve applied for Phase 3 was June 26.
Somers was hopeful about applying for the next phase following the mandatory 3-week minimum waiting period, up until recently when the county experienced an increase in cases over the weekend.
“Our numbers have not stabilized enough,” said Somers. “In fact, they have trended up slightly.”
Snohomish County would’ve had to stay under 25 cases per 100-thousand residents within a 14 day period to be on track towards Phase 3.
Sharing data from the Washington Department of Health’s phases and risk assessment dashboard, over the past few weeks, the county generally saw less than 20 cases per day up until it saw 35 on Friday, June 19, noted Dr. Spitters.
Then on Monday, June 22, the county saw 77 new cases- the most since April 9.
“Proceeding at maximum velocity into Phase 3 would be quite risky at the present moment given these recent findings,” commented Spitters. “We need a week or two to assess and control the current situation, monitor the trend in new daily case reports, and track COVID hospitalizations to know whether this was a blip or an early sign of more to come.”
Dr. Spitters says that recently the county has received various reports from the community about large gatherings occurring, despite Phase 2 restrictions on gatherings with no more than five people outside of a household.
Dr. Spitters and his office are now investigating a gathering of up to 70 young adults that took place in Stanwood on June 19. One attendee has been confirmed to have tested positive with COVID-19.
“As the health officer, my job is to figure out what happened last weekend, or what led up to it, and make sure that we limit its impact going forward,” said Spitters. “Low velocity is the best speed because if you’re going and you have to hit the breaks, it’s going to be a while until you slow down.”
The county did not release a specific target date for when they hope to apply for Phase 3 but Somers says that if he sees the trend turn around, he’s going to “push as hard as I can to open us up as quickly as we can.”
For now, the county is asking the community to social distance and wear facial coverings as outlined by the new statewide mask mandate.
“It’s up to each and every one of you to take those protective measures and help us be successful,” said Somers.