Clark County reported a significant decrease in its COVID-19 disease activity rate this week as the omicron variant’s surge begins to slow, but it remains alarmingly high.
The COVID-19 activity rate, which measures new cases per 100,000 population over 14 days, decreased from 2,409.5 per 100,000 last week to 1,627.6 as of Thursday. Any rate higher than 200 is considered high by health officials.
Last week was the first time the disease activity rate had decreased since mid-December, when the omicron variant first arrived in Clark County. Currently, the disease activity rate is about three times higher than it was during September’s delta wave, according to Public Health data.
Despite slowing disease activity, hospitalizations increased this week, and hospitals remain near capacity.
New hospitalizations rose this week from 18 per 100,000 residents over seven days to 22 per 100,000 over seven days, according to Public Health.
As of Tuesday, 97.2 percent of Clark County’s hospital beds and 98.3 percent of its ICU beds were occupied. Hospitals reported that 107 beds — accounting for 26.3 percent of hospital beds and 25.9 percent of ICU beds — were occupied by people with or suspected of having COVID-19.
Fifteen new deaths were reported in Clark County this week. The deaths include one man in his 30s, three women in their 60s, two men in their 70s, and five men and four women age 80 or older.
The new deaths push the total number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Clark County to 712. Deaths are added to the county’s total typically 10 to 12 days after they occur.
Public Health reported a total of 3,457 new cases this week, with 2,842 confirmed by molecular testing, for 66,821 to date, and 615 using antigen testing, for 13,971.
Combined, the new cases work out to an average of about 494 new cases per day, down from about 728 new cases per day last week. The actual number of new cases is likely higher due to unreported at-home tests, according to Clark County Public Health officials.
The number of active cases still in their isolation period decreased to 3,483 this week, down from 6,003 last week, according to Public Health.
The Washington State Department of Health reported that as of Feb. 4, 63.6 percent of Clark County residents age 5 or older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself from severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to Public Health officials. Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 occur disproportionately among the unvaccinated. More than 450 people have died from COVID-19 in the past year while vaccines have been available. Of those deaths, 76 percent were unvaccinated, according to Public Health.
Free at-home COVID-19 tests are available through the Washington State Department of Health’s website sayyescovidhometest.org. Free at-home tests are also available through the federal program at www.COVIDtests.gov.