Clark County Public Health officials are urging everyone to wear face coverings indoors and get vaccinated as a new wave of COVID-19 infections washes over the region.
The 964 cases reported for the seven days ending Thursday works out to an average of about 138 new cases a day, more than double the rate of about 55 cases a day two weeks ago. A month ago, the county was averaging about 21 new cases a day.
This latest surge is fueled by the spread of the delta variant, which is more contagious than previous strains of COVID-19. The variant, which has been identified in samples from Clark County, may now account for more than 90 percent of new COVID-19 cases statewide, according to the Washington Department of Health.
“Hospitalization rates are also increasing and are now nearing the highs reached in December and January,” a statement from Clark County Public Health said Friday. As of Thursday, 68 hospital beds were occupied by people with COVID-19 and two others occupied by suspected cases, accounting for 12.1 percent of the county’s hospital beds.
Public Health reported that 79.8 percent of the county’s hospital beds and 90.9 percent of the county’s ICU beds were occupied as of Thursday.
Statewide data shows that most people being hospitalized with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated, according to Public Health, which cited a recent state report showing that 95 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 through July 24 were not fully vaccinated.
“The data continues to show that the vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19, particularly against hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “With virus activity rising and hospitals getting busier, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated.”
About 96 percent of cases statewide through July 31 were not fully vaccinated. In Clark County, nearly 97 percent of cases through June were not fully vaccinated, according to Public Health data.
A masking requirement took effect in Oregon on Friday, regardless of vaccination status, while Washington continues to encourage those who are vaccinated to consider masking up indoors.
Those who are not vaccinated are still required to wear a face mask indoors, according to state mandates.
Given the high virus activity in Clark County, Public Health is encouraging everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings indoors.
Melnick and Dr. Steven Krager, Clark County deputy health officer, joined health officers representing 35 local health jurisdictions in the state to issue a joint statement about face coverings.
They are recommending all residents wear face coverings anytime they are in indoor public settings and don’t know the vaccination status of those around them.
“This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state and decrease the spread of the highly contagious delta variant,” the health officers said in the joint statement.
COVID-19 vaccine is widely available at local pharmacies and medical offices. More information about COVID-19 vaccines is available on the Public Health website.