15 New Cases of COVID-19 Reported Tuesday as Thurston Approaches 'High' Transmission

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Thurston County reported 15 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents Tuesday and one new outbreak in a congregate care setting.

County data shows the most recent residents to be diagnosed are:

* A man in his 30s;

* Three men in their 40s;

* A woman and man in their 50s;

* A man in his 60s;

* A woman and man in their 70s;

* Two women and two men in their 80s; and

* A woman and man in their 90s.

The county has now reported a total of 1,625 cases since the pandemic began. On Monday. it reported its 22nd resident death due to complications related to the illness, a man in his 80s.

Thurston County Public Health and Social Services considers 1,221 of its COVID-19 patients to be "recovered" or "recovering," which means they've been released from Public Health-ordered isolation but could still suffer ongoing health problems. A total of 113 residents have been hospitalized at some point in their illness, and eight have been hospitalized in the last week.

Across both hospitals in the county, Providence St. Peter and Capital Medical Center, there were 20 patients hospitalized who were positive for COVID-19 in the most recently available data, according to county Public Health Director Schelli Slaughter. At a county commission work session Tuesday, she described hospital capacity as "relatively stable."

After dropping from six to five ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate care settings on Monday, a new outbreak reported Tuesday brought the county's total back to six. The latest outbreak is in another adult family home, according to county COVID-19 spokesperson Magen Johnson.

The latest weekly report includes data on the outbreaks that was up-to-date as of Sunday -- so, it includes one previous outbreak that's now considered resolved and doesn't include the outbreak reported Tuesday.

Those numbers show the following cases attributed to outbreaks as of Oct. 18:

* Adult Family Home 1: Five residents and 15 staff had tested positive, with one death;

* Adult Family Home 2: Four residents and six staff had tested positive;

* Assisted Living Facility 1, known to be Garden Courte Memory Care in Olympia: 37 residents and 13 staff had tested positive, with one death;

* Assisted Living Facility 2: One resident and three staff had tested positive;

* Nursing facility 1: One resident had tested positive; and

* Nursing facility 2: 17 residents and three staff had tested positive.

Transmission rates on the rise

Thurston County has experienced a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases, as have other counties in western Washington and elsewhere. At the Tuesday morning meeting, Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek noted that transmission rates here are now approaching "high" levels.

The state's risk-assessment dashboard's most recent data shows 72.8 people per 100,000 were newly diagnosed between Sept. 25 and Oct. 8 in Thurston County. Once the county crosses over the threshold of 75 cases per 100,000 over 14 days, it enters what Abdelmalek referred to as the "high transmission zone."

In its decision tree for in-person learning in schools, the state considers COVID-19 activity levels to be "low" in places with a rate of lower than 25, "moderate" in places with rates between 25 and 75, and "high" in places with rates above 75. The state set a goal rate of fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 over 14 days.

Another benchmark the county is not meeting: percent of positive tests over a week. The most recent data on the dashboard shows a rate of 3.4% positive tests for the week of Oct. 2-8, well over the goal of 2%.

Throughout the community, Abdelmalek said the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spreading primarily through interpersonal contact between friends and family. Once someone in a household contracts COVID-19, she said, public health officials see other household members are at "extremely high risk" to also contract the disease.

Officials have also seen an uptick in workplace transmission, she said, which reflects the overall increased transmission rate in the community.

Abdelmalek again is urging residents to keep wearing masks, staying 6 feet away from non-household members, washing hands, and getting tested early if they experience symptoms.

"I think that if we all kind of do our part and follow these kind of common-sense guidelines, I think that we can bring this curve down," she said.

A list of locations to get tested in Thurston County and a calendar of no-cost, community-based testing events are available on the county's coronavirus web page.

In the region

-- Pierce County announced 61 cases and no new deaths on Tuesday, giving the county 9,230 total cases. A total of 185 Pierce County residents have died.

-- Lewis County reported three new cases, increasing the county total to 679. The total number of Lewis County COVID-19 deaths stayed at 12.

-- Mason County added two cases and no new deaths, for a total of 538 cases and nine deaths.

-- Grays Harbor County on Monday reported one new case and no new deaths, for a total of 647 cases and 11 deaths in residents.

Across the state, nation and world

Washington state had reported 99,150 cases with 2,282 deaths as of Tuesday, according to the Washington State Emergency Operations dashboard.

In the United States, more than 8.1 million cases and nearly 221,000 deaths had been reported as of Tuesday, Johns Hopkins University data show. Washington state ranks 25th in the nation for the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19.

Globally, 40.6 million cases had been reported and more than 1.1 million people had died as of Tuesday, the data show.

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(c)2020 The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.)

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