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Wash. Ends State of Emergency as COVID Activity Declines

Gov. Jay Inslee ended the COVID-19 state of emergency on Oct. 31. However, the state Secretary of Health still has discretion to maintain a few criteria, such as masking in healthcare settings.

A person holding out an empty COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card from the CDC.
(TNS) - Thurston County’s disease activity continued to decline in October just as Washington state last emergency proclamations expired.

There were about 53.6 cases per 100,000 people in Thurston County from Oct. 25-31, according to the state Department of Health. This is down from a high rate of 259.5 from July 5-11.

County Health Officer Dimyana Abdelmalek acknowledged the trend last week when she addressed the Board of County Commissioners. However, she cautioned that the data did not include at-home tests, which have become popular.

“While it’s encouraging, what we’re seeing is likely an undercount and we have seen surges in prior winter seasons,” Abdelmalek said. “So, we are staying vigilant.”

In October, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services confirmed 992 cases and 12 deaths, according to a county report.

Gov. Jay Inslee ended the COVID-19 state of emergency on Oct. 31. However, the state Secretary of Health still has discretion to maintain a few criteria, such as masking in healthcare settings.

Thurston County PHSS director Kurt Hardin said this change in emergency status will limit funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency going forward, with few exceptions.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the county has confirmed 58,687 COVID cases and 456 deaths as of Nov. 9. Additionally, 2,953 people have been hospitalized at some point in their illness.

State data indicates there were around 4.3 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2 in the Cascade Pacific Action Alliance, a regional organization that includes Thurston County.

About 93% of acute care staffed beds were occupied in the CPAA region over the same time period. Meanwhile, just 5% of acute care staffed beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19, according to the data.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Thurston County’s community risk level as “low” based on data collected between Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. Thurston County shared the low rating with all other counties in Washington.

The CDC determines community levels by weighing new hospital admission and inpatient bed data after considering cases per 100,000 in the past seven days.

With a “low” rating, the CDC recommends people stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, and wear a mask if they experience symptoms, test positive or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. People should also wear masks on public transportation, the CDC says.

Thurston County PHSS continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines, including the bivalent booster, at scheduled clinics across the county. Planned clinics can be found on the county’s vaccine information website.

In addition to COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza have been spreading across the country.

Abdelmalek said Washington state has recently seen an increase in RSV hospitalizations, particularly among children. She said influenza activity continues to be low in Washington state and has caused only three deaths so far.

“I do recommend that folks who haven’t gotten their influenza shot yet get vaccinated for influenza,” Abdelmalek said. “The preliminary look from our state and federal partners is that the current influenza vaccine is a good match for what’s circulating in the country at this point.”

As for monkeypox, Abdelmalek said there have been 627 total confirmed cases across the state thus far, including two in Thurston County. The state has counted 18 hospitalizations and zero deaths from the virus.

Abdelmalek said PHSS has dispensed 283 doses of monkeypox vaccine. This has primarily been offered to those at high risk of contracting monkeypox and to close contacts of confirmed cases, she said.

©2022 The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.