Thurston County Reports Five More COVID-19 Deaths, But Weekly Case Count Is Significantly Lower

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Thurston County confirmed Monday that five more residents died of COVID-19 and 295 more contracted the virus in the past week.

Four men died due to COVID-19: one in his 50s, two in their 60s, and one in his 70s. A woman in her 60s also died. The cases and deaths were added between Nov. 22-28, according to data from Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.

There have been 22,515 confirmed cases and 238 deaths in the county from March 2020 to Sunday, per PHSS. The county considers 21,621 cases recovered or recovering as of Monday — meaning 894 cases remained active.

The weekly case count for the past week was significantly lower than the previous week when PHSS reported six deaths and 536 cases. The result bucked a five-week trend of case counts in the 500s.

The county's two-week case rate rose to 352.6 cases per 100,000 people between Nov. 7-20 after reaching 334.7 from Oct. 30 to Nov. 12, per data from the state Department of Health. The record high case rate in Thurston County was 523 from Aug. 19 to Sept. 1, the data show.

The county is responding to 10 ongoing outbreaks at congregate care settings. To date, there have been 104 such outbreaks.

There have been three closures in school settings involving 22 cases between Nov. 15-21.

The Olympia School District saw one closure and five cases. The Rochester School District had one closure with eight cases. Yelm Community School closed one setting due to nine cases.

Eight people were hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19 over the past week, per PHSS. Since the start of the pandemic, the data show 1,404 people with COVID-19 have at some point been hospitalized.

The state reports the county had a hospitalization rate of 7.6 per 100,000 people between Nov. 14-20. This rate increased from a recent low of 5.5 from Nov. 8-14.

Over a seven-day period ending Sunday, about 86.7% of ICU beds were occupied in the West region, which includes Thurston County and some of its neighbors. The data show 15.3% of ICU beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients in the regionn during that period.

Hospitals in the region were 91.8% full over a seven-day period as of Sunday, per the data, while COVID-19 patients accounted for 13%.

From February to October, state data show 75.4% of cases (9,451) in Thurston County were in unvaccinated individuals; 19.7% of cases (2,472) were in fully vaccinated individuals, per state data.

Across the state, those 12 or older who were unvaccinated accounted for 75.8% of COVID-19 deaths over the same period. Those partially vaccinated made up 5.9% of deaths and those fully vaccinated made up 18.3% of deaths, the data show.

PHSS does not share the vaccination status of those who die due to COVID-19 in Thurston County because they do not have access to that data, a county spokesperson previously said.

Vaccinations and tests

Just 59.4% of all Thurston County residents were fully vaccinated as of Saturday and 64.3% had initiated vaccinations, per state data. The county's vaccination rate has increased by less than 1 percent in the past week.

Meanwhile, the data show about 76.3% of Thurston residents 16 and older have initiated vaccinations and 70.5% have been fully vaccinated.

As of Nov. 22, 80.5% of the state population 12 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 74.3% had been fully vaccinated. This percentage includes aggregate data from the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs, both of which are not entirely reflected in the state's data dashboard.

For comparison, 74.9% of Thurston County residents 12 and older have initiated vaccinations and 69.2% had been fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

The state reports 42,478 people in Thurston County have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Across the state, over 1 million of the state's 7.7 million residents have gotten a booster.

Thurston County PHSS continues to offer free vaccination events every week. Events are listed on their coronavirus vaccine information website.

Eligible residents can find appointments at local providers such as pharmacies by visiting the state's Vaccine Locator website. Many supermarket pharmacies are taking walk-ins for vaccines.

Those who have difficulty 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.

There have been no updates to COVID-19 testing data since Sept. 15. The DOH does not expect to restart its reporting of testing data until about Dec. 30 due to an "unexpected delay," according to its data dashboard.

PHSS offers testing at various locations throughout the county, but this is limited to people with symptoms or who may have been exposed by a close contact.

People also can get tested at pharmacies such as Rite Aid and Walgreens. Over-the- counter COVID-19 antigen tests also are available at pharmacies.

In the region

— Pierce County had confirmed 96,551 total COVID-19 cases with 924 deaths as of Monday. Pierce County has a population of about 927,000.

— Grays Harbor County has seen a total of 9,409 confirmed and probable cases, with 145 deaths as of Sunday, according to state data. Grays Harbor County has a population of about 75,000.

— Lewis County has had a total of 10,904 confirmed and probable cases with 172 deaths as of Sunday, per state data. Lewis County has a population of almost 83,000.

— Mason County has reported 5,409 confirmed cases with 80 deaths as of Monday. Mason County has a population of about 69,000.

In the state, nation and world

The state of Washington has reported a total of 773,069 COVID-19 cases and 9,257 deaths from the beginning of the pandemic to Sunday.

As of Nov. 11, the state estimated its effective reproductive number over time was 0.95 on Nov. 6, indicating the number of infected people may have been decreasing. This metric measures the average number of new people that one COVID-19 positive person infects.

In the U.S., about 48.4 million COVID-19 cases had been reported as of Monday with more than 778,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. population is about 330 million.

Globally, about 262 million people had contracted the virus and over 5.2 million people had died of COVID-19 as of Monday, the data show.