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State COVID recovery plan "paused"

Grant County urges residents to do better

 

Last updated 5/5/2021 at 8:05am

Grant County health officials worry about the county's increasing incidence rate. - Grant County Health District graph

Local counties remain in Phase 3 of Washington's COVID-19 recovery plan, which means that the local Colorama Festival with its variety of activities in the area can go on as planned despite Grant County, for one, not meeting the requirements to stay in Phase 3.

Grant County's incidence rate is 50 percent higher than current guidelines calling for it to be rolled back to Phase 2.

"This is our wakeup call," GCHD Administrator Theresa Adkinson said in a statement Tuesday after Gov. Jay Inslee announced the decision to pause in the reopening plan after widely being expected to announce rollbacks. 

"What Grant County is currently doing is not working well for our residents," Adkins said.

The county's vaccination rate is low, and the incidence of COVID-19 in the county has been rising for weeks.

But Inslee Tuesday announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. 

A press update from the governor's officer explained that "under the pause, every county will remain in its current phase. At the end of two weeks, each county will be re-evaluated."

"The decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health, and reflects current data suggesting Washington's fourth wave has hit a plateau," the update continues. 

"We are at the intersection of progress and failure, and we cannot veer from the path of progress," Inslee said. "Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth thanks to some of our great legislative victories and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening - if we adhere to public health until enough people are vaccinated.

"For the past several weeks, epidemiologists have been following the state's fourth COVID-19 wave, which now appears to be leveling out," Inslee said. "The fourth wave has been less severe, and case counts and mortalities have not been tied in rates of increase as they have in the past." 

Inslee said those changes have been attributed to increasing vaccination rates, resulting in shortening hospital stays and lessening the severity of the illness. The state's early vaccine prioritization has also been tied to improved data and decreasing mortality rates in the state's most vulnerable populations."

Vaccines are now available to all Washingtonians 16 and up. To find an appointment, visit VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.

"We have two weeks to get our COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations down to avoid rolling back to phase 2," warns the Grant County Health District statement.

According to GCHD, the county has an incidence rate of over 300 cases per 100,000. To stay in Phase 3, counties need to meet two metrics: New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents must remain below 200 over 14 days; and under five new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over the prior seven days.

The next evaluation of county Road to Recovery phases will be May 18.

Adkinson said the county has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state (29% with at least one dose of vaccine, compared to the state's average of 44%, according to DOH). 

"Yet our hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies have a surplus supply of vaccine," she said. "None of us want to have a repeat of last summer. We want parades and festivals back, but in order to make that happen we must better manage this virus. I know Grant County is tired of the COVID restrictions. But I also know, as a childhood resident of this community, we have what it takes to increase our vaccination rates."

"People are letting their guard down. But we are closer to ending this pandemic because of vaccines," said  Grant County Health Officer Dr. Alexander Brzezny. "So, what do we do? Don't disrespect the virus, stay alert. Forget about herd immunity for now; let's just vaccinate as many as we can as soon as possible. It is safe and it works. If more people choose to vaccinate, more spread is disrupted, and the infections will go down, plain and simple. Then we stay in phase 3 and continue putting this nightmare behind us." 

More local COVID data

According to the GCHD website, the Grand Coulee Dam area has had a total 38 cases within Grant County since the pandemic started. 

The Grand Coulee Dam School District, which is spread throughout multiple counties, has a 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate of 207 cases per 100,000 residents. 

The district's website, http://www.gcdsd.org,  includes a link to a Covid report compiling data from the five local zip codes within the district including 99123, 99133, 99155, 99124, and 99116.

Updated every Friday, the report shows 10 new cases within those zip codes, making for the incidence rate of 207 cases per 100,000 residents as of April 30.

A month prior, on March 26, there had been 11 cases within those zip codes. 

Okanogan County has had 66 cases in the past 14 days for an incidence rate of 153 cases per 100,000, according to the Okanogan Public Health website.  It notes that 34.5% of the county is fully vaccinated. 

Douglas County, with 72 new cases in the past 14 days, has an incidence rate of 164.6 according to the Chelan-Douglas Health District. 

Lincoln County has had 44 cases in the past 14 days for an incidence rate of 401, according to the Lincoln County Health Department website.

 

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