Falling numbers of COVID-19 cases over the next month may mean the end of the proof-of-vaccination rule for eating in Jefferson County restaurants in March, Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry …
Falling numbers of COVID-19 cases over the next month may mean the end of the proof-of-vaccination rule for eating in Jefferson County restaurants in March, Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said Monday.
The spike in COVID cases in Jefferson County looks to be ending, Berry told county commissioners during their weekly pandemic briefing Jan. 24.
“It does appear that we’re reaching our peak in cases for our region as a whole, including Jefferson County,” Berry said.
“We are starting to see cases peak throughout the country, and the places that had the first surge are already starting to drop,” she added.
While cases in Western Washington are falling, the case count in Eastern Washington is still going up, however.
Jefferson County reported 2,371 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday.
That’s an increase of 103 cases since Friday.
Berry noted the case rate was “just slightly down” and still very, very high.
The two-week case rate was 1,397 per 100,000 of population Monday. It will need to drop to 200 per 100,000 for the county to lift the show-your-vaxx-card mandate in Jefferson County, Berry said.
Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 96 residents have been hospitalized due to the disease — an uptick of four hospitalizations since Friday — and 22 residents have died.
Four residents remained in the hospital early this week due to COVID.
Berry noted there currently is an outbreak in a long-term care facility in the county, which she did not name, with three residents who have tested positive.
There has been a round of testing of staff and other residents, with no other positive cases confirmed.
“We’re hopeful that we will be able to contain that one in relatively short order,” Berry said.
Since Friday, a total of 50 new infections were reported in Port Townsend. Thirty-four new cases were reported in the mid-county area, while there were nine new cases in south county and 10 new cases in west county.
The age group of 20 to 29 year olds make up the most new cases since Friday, with 23, followed by the age group of 40 to 49, with 18 infections.
Overall, the county appears to have finally plateaued in its coronavirus case rate, with a drop in cases to follow in the coming weeks.
Berry said after the Omicron surge peaks, there is expected to be a “dramatic drop off” in the number of infections.
“The primary reason for that is it has exhausted its sources,” she said.
People will have either gotten vaccinated or infected, and so have some degree of immunity.
“It’s not done yet. We’re not done with our surge,” Berry added.
Still, the number of infections is expected to fall fast.
“We are likely to see this surge drop off very quickly in February,” Berry said. “I think we are going to be in a much safer place by probably around mid-March in our community. And I actually think it’s unlikely to see a significant surge like this again for some time, likely we’ll be relatively safe through the summer.
“It’s always hard to make predictions; you never know what this virus is going to do,” she said.
When surges of the size that can overwhelm the hospital fall off, it’s possible that some COVID restrictions will ease up, Berry added.
Berry noted that when the county gets to the 200 cases per 100,000 threshold, it would be possible to lift the proof-of-vaccination orders that are now in place.
That should happen by March, she said.
“So if we can hang tight through February, I think we’re going to be in a much better place,” she said
“This will not last forever; it will actually stop,” Berry said of the pandemic.