Thurston County Confirms One Death, 457 Cases Last Week as It Refocuses Vaccine Clinics


Thurston County reported 457 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death last week as the county shows signs of progress.

Taken at face value, this is the most cases the county has reported in a single week this year, according to Public Health and Social Services data. However, the department clarified that 75 of these cases are due to a reporting backlog at the state level.

The one death was a woman in her 70s, the county announced on Wednesday.

PHSS director Schelli Slaughter said the county has continued to see a high number of cases compared to the other areas in the state but she believes current trends may be improving.

"We are finally starting to see (cases) plateau and perhaps decline. ... This really gives us a lot of hope for that trend to continue," Slaughter said. "I'm encouraged by where we're going now. I don't know that I would have said the same thing a week or so ago."

Slaughter commented on the trend during a Board of County Commissioners agenda-setting meeting on Tuesday. She said the county's test positivity rate has improved every week. The latest state data indicates 5.7% of tests came back positive from May 14-20.

The county had a rate of 184.2 cases per 100,000 people over the two-week period from May 7 to May 20, the state reports. This is down from the most recent peak case rate of 236.1 from April 19 to May 2, per state data, but still far greater than the target case rate of 25.

The county has reported 10,305 COVID-19 cases and 92 deaths since it first started recording data in March 2020. In all, 9,179 cases are considered recovered or recovering and 575 people have been hospitalized at some point in their illness.

There are five ongoing outbreaks in congregate care settings, according to county data, and a total of 59 such outbreaks.

Refocused vaccine clinics

About 46% of the county population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of last Wednesday, according to the latest state data, and 39.35% of county residents had been fully vaccinated.

The county continued to see a slowdown in vaccine demand last week, according to county spokesperson Magen Johnson. However, she noted there has been an increase in younger people getting vaccinated since children as young as 12 have become eligible.

Slaughter said the county will close the mass vaccination site at South Puget Sound Community College by the end of June, but the Thurston County Fairgrounds site will continue to be used as needed.

The county is scaling back mass vaccination clinics to weekends and evenings, Johnson said in a prepared statement. As part of an updated strategy, Johnson wrote the county is focusing more on sending mobile clinics to schools, religious centers, congregate living settings and long term-care facilities.

In addition, the county is offering to vaccinate homebound individuals with door-to-door service, according to Johnson.

To find a clinic, county residents can visit the PHSS vaccine information website or the state's PrepMod website. No appointments are required at the county's clinics, but pre-registration is encouraged to reduce wait times.

Residents also can find appointments at local providers, including pharmacies, by visiting the state's Vaccine Locator website. Many supermarket and retail pharmacies are taking walk-ins for vaccines.

Those with difficulties scheduling appointments online can call the Department of Health vaccine hotline at 888-856-5816 or the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services line at 360-867-2610. Information for Spanish-speakers is available at these numbers as well.

Volunteers are still needed to staff clinics. People interested in volunteering at PHSS vaccine events can sign up through the United Way of Thurston County website. Anyone with questions or concerns about volunteering can call 360-943-2773.

In the region

— Pierce County confirmed 49,186 total cases with 573 deaths as Friday.

— Grays Harbor County has reported 4,382 confirmed and probable cases and 71 deaths as of Friday.

— Lewis County Public Health & Social Services reported 4,022 confirmed cases and 66 deaths as of Monday.

— Mason County reported 2,191 confirmed cases with 33 deaths as of Friday.

In the state, nation and world

The state of Washington had reported a total of 435,849 COVID-19 cases and 5,765 deaths as of Friday.

In the U.S., over 33.2 million cases had been reported as of Tuesday with more than 594,700 deaths.

Globally, 170.8 million people had contracted the virus and more than 3.55 million had died as of Tuesday, the data show.