GETTING TESTED FOR COVID-19 – Monday at 10:30 a.m. the wait was four hours to get tested for the coronavirus at Skagit County Public Health free test site at the County fairgrounds. There were about 80 cars waiting in 12 “ferry lanes” said site manager Julie de Losada. Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday 12-7 p.m. Location: South Gate Entrance, 501 Taylor Street, Mount Vernon, 98273. 	–Photo by Ken Stern
GETTING TESTED FOR COVID-19 – Monday at 10:30 a.m. the wait was four hours to get tested for the coronavirus at Skagit County Public Health free test site at the County fairgrounds. There were about 80 cars waiting in 12 “ferry lanes” said site manager Julie de Losada. Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday 12-7 p.m. Location: South Gate Entrance, 501 Taylor Street, Mount Vernon, 98273. –Photo by Ken Stern

“It is very high risk right now in Skagit County and all around the country and not safe to gather outside your household,” Polly Dubbel, Skagit Public Health communicable disease and environmental health manager told the Weekly News Tuesday afternoon. She asks that people only travel locally for essential tasks, such as school and work. “Aside from that enjoy the company of your own household.,” she cautions.

The coronavirus continues its rapid spread among Skagit County residents across the board, Dubbel said, with the highest impact in age groups adults age 20 to 39. COVID-19 cases disproportionately impact the Latinx community, but there is “also a high impact to non Latinx community, too,” she noted. Every age group is at risk, though it is higher for older people, she said.

Skagit County Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand wrote of “an exponential rise in the number of laboratory confirmed new COVID-19 cases” in a memo updating county school superintendents last Thursday.

State data through Sunday shows 251.5 new cases per 100,000 County residents. Statewide 300 people per 100,000 residents are infected. Since Nov. 1, 471 Skagit County residents have tested positive; that is raw data.

Twenty people have been hospitalized since Nov. 1, through the 21st, a 19% increase in three weeks. Only seven people were hospitalized all of October. Sunday, 86.5% of Skagit County hospital beds were occupied, almost 50% above the statewide average. Almost 9% of county beds are filled with COVID-19 patients; at 10% of beds occupied the state metric is exceeded, an indication of a strained public health system.

The County maintains its robust daily testing programs; over 300 people per 100,000 residents were tested last week. 35 people tested positive of the 395 going through the County’s test site Friday, now at the County Fairgrounds, said site manager Julie de Losada.

A new case was confirmed in the 98257 zip code through Nov. 23, though there are still fewer than 40 cases since tracking started in February.
Sunday the mayors of all County municipalities made a joint appeal for residents to stay home and not travel this Thanksgiving, publishing a full page ad in the Skagit Valley Herald.

Leibrand wrote the school superintendents “recent orders from the Governor are designed to slow the rise in cases and may have a positive impact, but surges of this magnitude are difficult to contain quickly. We are likely to experience very high disease activity levels into December and possibly beyond.”