Progress continues on vaccinations and driving down COVID case rates
By Dave Somers, County Executive | Press Release
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters and Emergency Management Director Jason Biermann provided updates Tuesday on the community’s response to COVID-19.
Much of the presentation focused on progress administering COVID-19 vaccinations, including the county’s work to develop the ability to inoculate tens of thousands of people each week – if vaccine supply increases.
Winter storms across much of the U.S. last week blocked vaccine supplies from reaching the county. This week, those supplies arrived, along with more doses, and work is underway to scale up vaccine capacity.
“It’s really frustrating for all of us not to have more dependable supplies every week,” Executive Somers said. “It makes it difficult to plan but we are optimistic it will get better with time.” He also wanted to assure the community that “all groups that have been more adversely impacted by COVID-19, including our seniors, will remain priorities for us.”
Dr. Spitters said declining case COVID rates, along with reductions in hospitalizations and deaths are all good signs, but it is “truly remarkable” that the recent data show only one newly reported COVID case in a long-term care facility. Compare that to earlier this winter, when there were up to 90 new cases weekly in long-term care facilities, he said.
The decrease in nursing home cases offers much relief to residents, their families and staff. While there are many contributing factors, vaccinations of people living and working in long-term care facilities is clearly playing a big role, Dr. Spitters said.
Despite weather challenges, last week more than 25,000 doses of vaccine were administered in the county, Dr. Spitters said.
“We now have 92,000 people who have received their first dose and 29,000 who are fully vaccinated,” he said. That works out to more than 120,000 total doses of vaccine administered in roughly 10 weeks.
Biermann provided a detailed briefing on the COVID vaccination program here and its challenges. Planning for vaccinating people in the county began in July and initially didn’t place much emphasis on mass distribution sites outside the existing health care system. The focus shifted in December, and the first site stood up Jan. 6. The Snohomish County Vaccine Task Force now operates four sites in Everett, Edmonds, Monroe and Arlington. About half of the people who have been vaccinated against COVID in the county have received their shots at one of the mass vaccination sites.
“We know we are still a long way off from getting the over 600,000 Snohomish County residents that we know will want to be vaccinated completely vaccinated, but we are making good progress,” Biermann said.
The biggest hurdle remains supply, he added.
It is true that other counties have vaccinated more people or a higher percentage of the eligible population, but the focus here remains on getting everyone who wants to be vaccinated as swiftly and safely as possible, the news conference was told.
“We are in a race and a competition against the virus, not against our neighbors,” Dr. Spitters said.
Watch the briefing: https://youtu.be/E6mvJpwb4hs
Or read the transcript: https://www.snohd.org/DocumentCenter/View/6675/Media-Availability-0223 The COVID-19 Call Center can be reached at 425-339-5278.