Grays Harbor County COVID-19 case counts have been on the rise since the state of Washington “reopened” on June 30.
Public health numbers released Friday showed 69 new cases the week of July 15-21, up from 36 new cases the prior week.
“We are seeing an increase in numbers, which is similar to what the state and nation is also seeing overall,” said Maranatha Hay, Grays Harbor County Public Health COVID-19 information officer. “I have noticed that the Delta variant is being found in close to 60% of cases in Washington. We have not yet identified any Delta cases in Grays Harbor County, however, that doesn’t mean that it is not in our community.”
The Delta variant has been classified as more contagious, and could lead to what Yale Medicine epidemiologist F. Perry Wilson recently described as “hyperlocal outbreaks,” those confined to small areas with low levels of immunization.
According to the cases by ZIP code map, the most significant rise in cases over the previous week was in Ocean Shores. The map showed 176 total cases for the length of the pandemic as of Friday.
The previous week, that number was 155, a total of 21 new cases in a town of about 6,000.
By comparison, during the same one-week period, there were 11 new cases reported in the Aberdeen ZIP code, 14 in Hoquiam and zero in Westport.
“A lot of cases and clusters are in Ocean Shores, which is most likely due to the high tourism activity there during the summer months,” said Hay.
“We are encouraging folks to take extra caution and continue wearing their masks and practice social distancing during this time. We are also encouraging folks age 12 and above to get vaccinated if they have not done so already.”
There have also been three additional COVID-related deaths in the county over the past two weeks, raising the county total to 79.
Outbreaks have been reported in a couple of Ocean Shores restaurants and pubs, prompting the closure of some as the busy Hog Wild bikers weekend approached.
“We have seen a rise in testing,” said Hay. State Department of Health data shows an average daily testing rate per 100,000 population in Grays Harbor County of 135, high, but still below the state number of 165.
The positivity rates have been high. July 6-9, 61 tests were performed in Aberdeen with a positivity rate of 17.5%. In Elma, 62 tests were done, with a positive rate of 5.75%. July 12-16, a little more than 21% of the 75 tests in Aberdeen came back positive, while a quarter of the 20 Elma tests came back positive. July 19-23, 161 tests were performed in Aberdeen, 21 in Elma. The positivity rates for those tests won’t be known until later this week.
As of July 19, less than 48% of the county’s total population had at least a first dose of the COVID vaccine. The numbers improve slightly in the population age 16 and older, 57% having initiated vaccination. In that population, 52% is considered fully vaccinated.
According to the state Department of Health, nearly 57% of the total state population has initiated vaccination, and 70% of the state’s population age 16 and older has initiated vaccination as of last week.
Vaccines are still free and available at most county pharmacies, find one of the 37 vaccine locations within 50 miles of Hoquiam at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov. Grays Harbor Public Health is holding Moderna clinics (18 and older) Fridays from 1-4 p.m. and Pfizer clinics (12 and older) Wednesdays from 3-7 p.m. at the Pearsall Building, 2109 Sumner Ave. in Aberdeen. Make an appointment at healthygh.org/covid19-vaccine-appointment.
“Grays Harbor County’s Health Officer Dr. John Bausher has signed a joint statement (Monday) along with seven other health officers recommending that all residents wear facial coverings when in indoor public settings where vaccination status of those around them is unknown,” said Hay.
“The goal of this is to help mitigate the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and increase in COVID-19 cases we are seeing statewide.”
The letter was also signed by health officials in Clallam, Pierce, King, San Juan, Jefferson, Kitsap and Snohomish counties.
“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,” read the letter.