More vaccination, masking, testing needed to control the virus
LONGVIEW, Washington — Now in the fifth week of a COVID-19 surge, Cowlitz County is exceeding records for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations set early in the pandemic. Residents are urged to take preventative measures, including getting vaccinated and wearing face coverings in public indoor settings, to reduce the spread of the virus.
Weekly COVID-19 case counts in Cowlitz County have seen an almost eight-fold increase since early July, with the average number of cases reported each day rising from seven for the week of July 4-10 to 58 for the week of July 29-August 4. At 601.8 per 100,000 population over July 22-August 4, Cowlitz County’s case rate is the fourth highest in the state.
Cowlitz County’s seven-day rate of positive tests has increased to 22.3% through July 28 as a declining number of residents get tested for COVID-19. During the county’s COVID-19 surge last December, percent positivity peaked at 14.8%. This means more residents are likely infected, but have not been tested and may be spreading the virus.
Along with cases, new COVID-19 hospitalizations in Cowlitz County have also increased since early July and continue to rise. From July 18-31, an average of 1-2 residents were hospitalized for COVID-19 per day. The county’s new per capita hospitalization rate is currently double the state average and is the eighth highest of all 39 counties in the state.
More COVID-19 hospitalizations will further strain the hospital system, which is already seeing an increasingly high number of patients. This could interfere with care for all patients.
Low vaccination rates, more contagious variants, and increased group interactions are contributing to the rise in cases, which are largely occurring among residents who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. Statewide, about 96% of cases through July 31, and 100% of deaths in people age 18-49 through June, were among people who were not fully vaccinated.
Of Cowlitz County’s total population, 44.6% is fully vaccinated and 48.9% has received at least one dose. Three variants of concern identified by the CDC have been found in Cowlitz County cases, including the delta variant, which is more contagious than previous COVID-19 strains and may cause more than twice as many infections.
“This is a pivotal time for Cowlitz County. Cases and hospitalizations have hit all-time highs and continue to increase,” said Dr. Steven Krager, deputy health officer for Cowlitz County. “COVID-19 vaccines continue to be our best defense to control the virus and save lives. Because transmission levels are so high right now, we must take other steps to keep the virus in check.”
In addition to urging residents to get vaccinated, avoid gatherings if unvaccinated, and take other preventative measures, Cowlitz County health officers are joining other local health officers in the state to recommend all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings when in public indoor settings where the vaccination status of others is unknown.
To read the joint statement, visit: http://bit.ly/wa-mask-statement.
While uncommon, some people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can get the delta variant in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious. Infections in fully vaccinated people tend to be mild. The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness that can lead to hospitalization and death, even among those infected with the delta variant.
Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or who has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 should get tested whether or not they are vaccinated or have previously been infected. COVID-19 testing is needed to identify, treat, and isolate those who are infected. To find a testing location near you, visit: https://bit.ly/3jysM9A.
Please do not go directly to a hospital for a COVID-19 test unless it is an emergency.
Cowlitz County Health & Human Services is continuing to contact residents who test positive for COVID-19. If you receive a phone call, please pick up or return the call as soon as possible. The information you share is kept confidential and helps public health staff identify potential outbreaks and contact others who may be infected.
For more COVID-19 guidance and resources, visit: https://bit.ly/3rVgZGl. To find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you, see: https://bit.ly/3jvo4cM.
(360) 414-5599, ext. 6451
|Release #: 21-029|