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News / Health / Health Wire

Clark County’s COVID-19 activity rate decreases; county now at medium risk

CDC no longer recommends people in Clark County wear masks indoors in public spaces

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 14, 2022, 2:17pm

Clark County’s COVID-19 activity rate decreased this week, causing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lower Clark County from high risk to medium risk for disease transmission.

The COVID-19 activity rate, which measures new cases per 100,000 population over seven days, fell from 196.1 last week to 145 as of Thursday, according to Clark County Public Health data.

Last week, the CDC had raised Clark County’s COVID-19 risk level from “medium” to “high.” The CDC determines a county’s risk level based on its current number of cases, hospitalizations and overall hospital occupancy.

Recommendations for medium-risk counties include staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and getting tested if you have symptoms. Masks are not required in medium-risk counties, though masks and social distancing are still recommended for people at high risk for serious illness. People who are exposed to COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms are still required to follow quarantine guidelines.

Masks are not recommended in medium-risk counties by the CDC, but Clark County Public Health officials still suggest wearing them in crowded settings.

Despite the decrease in disease activity this week, disease activity and overall hospital occupancy remains high. Disease activity could also be higher than reported due to unreported at-home tests, according to Dr. Steven Krager, deputy health officer for Clark County Public Health. At-home tests are still a great way to determine whether you have COVID-19, Krager said. If you test positive for COVID-19 with an at-home test, you can call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 to report your positive result.

New hospitalizations this week rose from 9.8 to 10 per 100,000 residents over seven days, according to Public Health.

As of Tuesday, 97.7 percent of Clark County hospital beds and 96.1 percent of ICU beds were occupied. Hospitals reported that 65 beds — accounting for 12.6 percent of hospital beds and 11.8 percent of ICU beds — were occupied by people with or suspected of having COVID-19, according to Public Health.

Eight new deaths from COVID-19 were reported this week, including one woman between the ages of 10 and 19, making her the youngest person to die from COVID-19 in Clark County. Other deaths include one woman in her 50s, one woman in her 60s, one woman in her 70s and two men and two women age 80 or older.

The new deaths push the total number of people who have died from COVID-19 in Clark County to 859. Deaths are typically added to the county’s total 10 to 12 days after they occur.

Public Health reported 901 new cases this week, for 99,673 to date. The actual number of new cases is likely much higher due to unreported, positive at-home tests, according to Clark County Public Health officials. Cases are also on the rise because of the highly contagious omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which have been detected in Clark County, according to Krager.

Between June 19 and June 25, BA.5 represented 35 percent of all cases in Washington, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

The Washington State Department of Health reported that as of Monday, 63.1 percent of Clark County residents age 6 months or older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Despite high levels of reinfection among vaccinated people and people who have been previously infected, getting vaccinated and boosted still provides the best protection against severe disease, according to Krager.

“Every time you get infected is like throwing the dice,” he said. “Now is a great time for a booster or to get vaccinated.”