SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — While case rates and hospitalizations appear to be declining, Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters is urging parents, students and their support systems to help curb transmission at schools, childcares and other youth settings.
In early September, around the same time students across the state returned to classrooms full-time amid the pandemic, Snohomish County recorded 367 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases involving childcares, schools and youth sports.
Consequently, more than 2,000 close contacts were identified and resulted in quarantines among students, according to Spitters during a Tuesday morning health department briefing.
Despite the large number of 2,000 students in quarantine, Spitters said, relative to the entire county, which has nearly 200,000 students, it only amounts to about 1-2%.
“When cases occur among students or staff, and they will, we work with the schools to optimize the number of individuals being quarantined and try to prevent transmission in the school,” said Spitters.
In the two-week period ending on Sept. 2, Snohomish County saw 42 COVID-19 investigations in K-12 settings. The following two weeks saw a nearly 500% increase in investigations with 202.
Spitters is asking for parents, students and teachers to be mindful of the number of resources the county has put together, including its back-to-school COVID-19 toolkit, to help mitigate transmission.
“From time to time, there may be a classroom or two in a school that may need to be temporarily closed if there's ongoing transmission not responsive to the mitigation measures, but those episodes won't necessarily call for any change in school-wide, district-wide or county-wide operations. We need students, families and teachers to continue working with us to get cases down and keep these impacts small,” Spitters said.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers was also a part of the Tuesday briefing to discuss how the federal vaccination mandate for employers with 100 or more employees could affect the county.
Since the county has more than 100 employees, it is subject to the mandate, but Somers said he believes the state will make the mandate stricter and not allow a test-out option.
This would align the federal requirement with the state mandate already in place for most state workers, health care workers and school employees.
“So, as soon as we know the details of the mandate, we will be communicating to those who are employees and let you know. Also, since over 70% of our employees are already vaccinated, we don't have a great deal further to go,” Somers said.
Last week, there were 1,750 COVID-19 cases reported in the county, about a 14% decline from the week prior.
The latest data shows about 67% of the county’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
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