Signups for Lewis County’s Thursday mass vaccination clinic hit a snag this week, as the county’s online sign-ups were not linked-to on the state’s Phase Finder program like officials expected.
The issue prompted frustration from residents as well as local public health officials. Patients could still sign up through the county’s direct link. Appointments were gone within hours.
“Any time we see 1,000 appointments go in a couple of hours, we know that demand is incredibly high,” Public Health Director J.P. Anderson said Wednesday.
Another link will go live Thursday for Saturday’s mass vaccination clinic, which is open to eligible Lewis County residents.
Teachers Eligible for Vaccines
Another “curveball” Anderson reported was the announcement that K-12 educators will now be eligible for vaccines, per the direction of President Joe Biden. The county is still evaluating how many teachers in Lewis County would need to be connected with a dose.
534 Backlogged Antigen Tests Added to County Total
Meanwhile, the county saw a one-time jump in COVID-19 cases as officials added over 500 positive antigen tests to its log of total cases. Antigen tests are rapid tests that don’t require a laboratory, and were not previously being counted toward the county’s total.
The state had already been counting positive antigen tests to assess counties’ risk levels, Anderson said, but Lewis County lagged behind in their deduplication efforts. Throughout the course of the pandemic, antigen tests have proven to be reliable, resulting in few false positives, leading to the decision to include them in positive case counts, according to Anderson.
“It took us a while to get there. A bit longer than we would’ve hoped,” Anderson said. “I feel like that wasn’t a strong spot for us, but we had to prioritize some other things.”
Good News on Cases, Vaccine Supply
The county’s most recent weekly data report shows a promising trend of declining case counts. After months, Lewis County’s weekly case counts finally fell below 100 in early February, and in the most recent full week of data (Feb. 21 to 27), only 52 new COVID-19 cases were reported, representing a steady decline since the end of January.
In terms of new cases, Lewis County added 21 new COVID-19 positive diagnoses from Saturday to Tuesday. Of those cases, three people were younger than 20, four in their 20s, two in their 30s, two in their 50s, three in their 60s, two in their 70s and five 80 or older.
Other good news includes vaccine supply, which is expected to continue increasing. As of Wednesday, Lewis County still has the lowest percentage of residents who have received a first dose of vaccine, but public health officials say they expect supply to continue to increase as the state attempts to catch Lewis and other counties up with the rest of Washington. The approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will bolster that effort, as doses are expected to roll into Lewis County as soon as the end of this week.