County COVID rate more than double that of state

In recent weeks, the rate of COVID-19 cases in Grays Harbor County, when adjusted for population, is more than double that of the rate statewide, according to the most current available state Department of Health data.

A surge in Grays Harbor County cases started in late June and, according to the Department of Health, the case rate jumped from 2.7 per 100,000 population the week of June 19-25 to more 103.8 the week of Sept. 4-10, with some fluctuation in between but an overall steep upward trend.

The state’s most current data — for the weeks of Aug. 29-Sept. 11 — shows the rate of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population at 167.2 for Grays Harbor. Statewide, the rate per 100,000 was 72.3. In actual numbers, Grays Harbor County, with a population of 74,160, had 124 cases during that period.

These numbers don’t include the dozens of cases that have been reported by Public Health in recent days. There have been 82 cases reported in Grays Harbor County since Sept. 15, including 13 new cases reported Wednesday.

Grays Harbor’s rate of new cases is significantly higher than those in surrounding counties during that same time period. By comparison:

Pacific County, with a population of 21,640, had a rate of 78.6 per 100,000 with 17 confirmed cases.

Lewis County, population 79,480, had a rate of 127.1 per 100,000 with 101 confirmed cases.

Thurston County, population 285,800, had a rate of 22.4 per 100,000 with 64 confirmed cases.

Mason County, population 64,980, had a rate of 50.8 with 33 confirmed cases.

Jefferson County, population 31,900, had a rate of 6.3 with two confirmed cases.

Looking at statewide data, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties are among the 13 in the state with a rate of 75 or more cases per 100,000 in the most recent two-week data period.

Among those 13 counties, the one most similar in population to Grays Harbor County is Chelan County, population 78,420. During the time period of Aug. 29-Sept. 11, its rate was at 125 per 100,000.

During those two weeks, Grays Harbor’s rate was sixth highest in the state and the only county in the group west of the Cascades; those east of the mountains are primarily agricultural areas. Topping the list was Whitman County, with a population of just over 50,000 at 983.4 per 100,000 with 493 cases over the two-week period, which included a major spike in cases with the return of students to Washington State University. Adams County came in at 694.8, Grant County 381.8, Garfield County at 270.3, and Franklin County at 186.9.

Testing data

Average testing data for the week of Sept. 5-11 was ahead of most surrounding counties in terms of the number of tests given per 100,000 population but below the state goal of 152.3 at 117.9 per 100,000. In actual numbers, according to the data dashboard, that week Grays Harbor County averaged 87.4 tests per day.

Pacific and Lewis counties for the week had testing rates of 126.1 and 158.2, respectively. Thurston, Mason and Jefferson counties each had rates of about 80-84 for the week. Whitman County, with its large number of positive tests per 100,000, was testing at a rate of 115.7 per 100,000, Adams County at 175.8 per 100,000.

The percent of positive tests for the week of Sept. 5-11 in Grays Harbor County was 11.1, far above the state’s target of 2%, with 612 tests, 68 returning positive. It was also the highest positive test percentage among surrounding counties for that week: Pacific County at 4.7% with nine positive results, Lewis County at 6.9% with 61 positive results, Thurston County at 1.8% with 31 positive results, Mason County at 4% with 15 positive results, and Jefferson County at less than 1% with one positive result. Of those counties, only Jefferson and Thurston counties were at or below the state’s target.

Hospital data

The state set goals for the number of available licensed hospital beds at the beginning of the pandemic, and most counties are meeting those goals even while failing to meet the other standards for moving between phases.

The state set goal is less than 80% of beds occupied overall, and less than 10% of total beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Statewide, 61% of licensed beds are available, with a total of 14,450 with 8,867 occupied. The number in Grays Harbor County is 35.4%, 58 out of 164 beds occupied, with five of those occupied by suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The only county currently not meeting the 80% goal is Thurston County, with 83.3% of its current licensed 479 beds occupied.