From an August 11, 2021, Snohomish County press release.
The Snohomish Health District issued a directive for our residents to wear masks again in indoor public settings in order to curb “alarming” growth in COVID-19 cases, a virtual press conference was told Tuesday.
A new mask directive goes into effect on Thursday, August 12th, and applies to everybody age 5 and up.
“The delta variant of the virus that causes COVID is spreading rapidly, with new cases up nearly 400% since July 1st,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District.
That level of infection – roughly 280 new cases per 100,000 people – exceeds the Centers for Disease Control’s threshold for designating high-transmission counties.
Hospitals are again seeing a spike in COVID patients, with the worst symptoms roughly 10 times more common among unvaccinated people, the press conference was told.
As of Tuesday morning, August 10th, there were 62 hospitalized COVID patients in the county, including four on ventilators, triple the number compared to July 24th.
“Intensive care units in the county are operating at 90% capacity or higher, leaving little room for additional COVID or non-COVID care,” Dr. Spitters added.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said that getting vaccinated remains the best path to slow the spread of COVID and to limit individual risk of severe illness.
“If you want to live, you should get vaccinated,” he said.
To date, 69% of eligible people in the county have at least initiated vaccination, but that is only about half of the total population.
“We still have nearly a quarter million individuals over 12 years not yet having started vaccination, along with the 125,000 children under 12 who aren’t yet eligible,” Dr. Spitters said.
Until more people are vaccinated, requiring everyone to mask up indoors is the best strategy for slowing COVID’s spread, the press conference was told.
The mask directive applies to indoor spaces that are open to the public, including retail, grocery stores, government buildings, and other businesses and places where members of the public can enter freely.
It does not apply to indoor non-public spaces, including businesses, offices, and other places of employment with limited access.
Employers in those settings should continue to follow current guidance and requirements from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries on worker safety.
Snohomish County COVID-19 case rates as of August 6, 2021. Image courtesy of Snohomish County.