COVID-19 Activity 'Headed in The Right Direction' as Weekly Lewis County Cases Fall 28%; Still, 22 Deaths Reported

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Oct. 13—HARD NUMBERS: 178 Cases, 17 Hospitalizations, 22 Deaths Reported Oct. 3-9 Countywide

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Lewis County fell by more than a quarter last week and statewide cases continue to decrease, continuing a string of good news as Washington state and its communities trudge through the infectious delta variant.

Lewis County Public Health and Social Services in its weekly update published Wednesday showed that about 178 cases were reported during the week of Oct. 3-9, a substantial decrease from the 250 cases reported the week prior.

But hospitalizations and deaths remain high, with Public Health reporting 17 new hospitalizations and 22 new deaths during that same time frame.

It's not clear how many of these deaths were among the 11 the department was working to confirm last week, but Lewis County Public Health and Social Services Director JP Anderson said this week they were able to reconcile that two deaths they were processing were not county residents.

"I do feel we are trending down," Anderson told county commissioners Tuesday, noting that the reproduction rate of the virus is below 1, meaning the virus is transmitting to less than one person per infection. "It's not going to be straight down, as everybody hopes, but we are headed in the right direction, I believe."

The rate of viral transmission still remains very high in Lewis County, with 593 new cases reported per 100,000 population in the past two weeks. There are also seven active outbreaks at long term care facilities in the county.

Washington state Department of Health leaders said at a Wednesday press conference they remain focused on vaccination efforts, as COVID-19 booster shots roll out for manufacturers and with emergency use authorization expected for at least one vaccine later this month for use in children ages 5 to 11.

They're also celebrating recent news that more than 9 million doses of vaccine have been administered statewide. In Lewis County, the rate of vaccination against COVID-19 remains low with just 51.3% of the population older than 12 inoculated.

DOH staff report that, during the month of September, COVID-19 hospitalization rates were 19-times higher for unvaccinated individuals aged 12 to 64, and roughly nine-times higher for those age 65 and older.

State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said the state is making a "tremendous amount of progress" in lowering transmission and hospitalizations, and addressing challenges at overwhelmed hospitals. Washington state communities are not out of the woods yet, though.

"It is really important for us to do everything we can to support our health care system. As we know, our health care system has been stressed," Shah said. "We known how critical it is for everyone to do their part to fight this pandemic."

Chris Thomas, a Providence Southwest spokesperson, said hospitals in Lewis and Thurston counties are seeing easing rates of patients receiving care for COVID-19. Between Providence Centralia and Olympia's Providence St. Peter, the number of patients receiving care peaked at the end of August when they tallied 104 total.

"Since then, we have seen a nice decrease," he said.

Since the start of October, the total number of patients admitted receiving care at any given time has fluctuated between the 60s and high 50s, Thomas said.

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