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Snohomish County health officials cast wary eye on slight rise in COVID-19 rates

Leveling off in COVID-19 cases is not good enough to ensure that the pandemic is under control, health officials say.

EVERETT, Wash. — Public health officials in Snohomish County urged caution as they have observed a leveling off of COVID-19 rates in recent weeks.

Following a rapid decline in COVID-19 cases from January to February, Snohomish County health officials said they are now seeing a slight uptick after a flattened rate in March.

"It looks like we kind of bottomed out," Snohomish County Health District Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said.

In a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday, Spitters said the county saw 70 cases per 100,000 people in the county during a two-week span through March 13. By March 20, Spitters said there have been 72 reported COVID-19 cases.

While it is still at a relatively flat rate, the slightest uptick has county officials on alert.

"The leveling off is enough to cause concern and to remind us that the virus is still out there it's still being transmitted, and if we don't keep our protective measures in place it can easily go back up into another wave," Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said.

While a plateau in COVID-19 rates acknowledges a stop to a significant rise in cases, the goal is to continue a downward trend in order to avoid another wave as virus variants continue to appear in the region, according to health officials.

"It's been a long haul for all of us and for all of you, but we're getting we're getting close, but we're not there yet," Spitters said.

Danielle Lothrop, owner of Toggle's Bottle Shop in downtown Everett, said her brewery and store have managed to stay afloat this past year. The high ceilings, large windows and HVAC systems in her business allow for safety precautions per state guidelines, including proper distance requirements between seating.

But the leveling off COVID-10 rates does not give her peace of mind as she considers what it would mean for businesses that may need to revert to prior phases.

"It would be incredibly disheartening not only for myself but for my staff if we were to slide backwards," Lothrop said.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said if counties see a significant increase in COVID-19 rates and hospitalizations, those counties will need to backtrack on the reopening plan, and move back a phase until the numbers decrease again.

Meantime, Snohomish County is focusing its efforts on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, with a goal of providing a vaccine for 600,000 adults in the county.

The current estimated supply would allow for approximately 47,000 to 50,000 vaccines administered in the county per week. At this rate, 600,000 adults will be vaccinated by early August, according to the Snohomish County Health District.

The vaccine supply estimate is contingent on the availability of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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