STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. — The Northeast Tri County Health District, which covers Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties, is urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations surge.
NETCHD said in a press release Friday that it has requested a strike team from the Washington State Department of Health to help support its efforts against the virus. That team is expected to arrive early this week, according to the health district.
Health leaders have said that cases in Ferry and Stevens counties have nearly tripled in the last two weeks, with cases nearly doubling in Pend Oreille County over the same time period. According to the NETCHD website, Ferry County has seen 22 cases in the last 14 days. Pend Oreille County has seen 40 cases in the last two weeks, while Stevens County reported 187 cases.
All three counties are now considered as having high rates of transmission by the CDC, which defines high transmission rates as more than 100 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days.
When taking two weeks of time into account, Pend Oreille County has the highest transmission rate of the three counties, sitting at 300. Ferry County is listed by the NETCHD as having a case rate of 283, while Stevens County's rate over the last two weeks is 278.
As of Sunday afternoon, only one Eastern Washington county was lower than high transmission in the eyes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That's Garfield County in the southeast part of the state.
According to the NETCHD, the increase in cases "is directly impacting our regional and local hospitals." The district also warned that if hospitals reach capacity, it would delay treatment for emergencies such as heart attacks, and could delay surgeries.
The health district said there is one thing in common for most of those contracting the virus or needing hospitalization - they aren't fully vaccinated. According to the NETCHD, 97.4% of recent COVID-19 cases were in those who weren't fully vaccinated. Also, 96% of recent hospitalizations and 94.3% of recent COVID-19 deaths were in those who aren't fully vaccinated, according to the district.
The NETCHD website has information on how to find a vaccine provider in Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties.