Thurston County reports a big jump in COVID-19 cases

By Leo Brine

The Olympian

Thurston County’s Department of Public Health and Social Services announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, tying with May 30 for the greatest single-day increase in cases in the county.

Of the 12 cases announced on May 30, 11 were related to an outbreak at a long-term care facility.

The 12 new cases reported Tuesday were all in younger people, with the oldest patient being a woman in her 40s. The rest of the cases are two boys and a girl in the 10-19 age range, three women and two men in their 20s, and three women in their 30s.

Thurston County now has had a total of 263 people diagnosed with the disease and four people die from it since March 11.

In her final letter to the community as Thurston County’s Acting Health Officer, Dr. Diana Yu wrote that the rise in cases is a result of multiple factors: an increase in non-essential travel, people meeting up with friends as restrictions lift, people returning to work. Some of the new cases have been traced back to previously confirmed cases within the same household and “the rest have been exposed in the general community.”

Yu also noted the increase in cases among young residents, saying that younger people should continue to practice caution even as restrictions lift. “For younger folks in the workforce and engaging in more social interactions — YOU can become infected and YOU can pass on COVID-19 two days before you even know you are sick.”

Thurston County counts 221 COVID-19 cases as “recovered” or “recovering,” meaning they have been released from the hospital and from public health isolation. The county has had 33 people hospitalized for the disease since March 11.

Public Health Director Schelli Slaughter said Tuesday there are seven people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized in Thurston County, including non-residents.

County Public Health is keeping an eye on local hospital and ICU capacity, Slaughter said, because they are currently quite full. The latest data from the state Department of Health shows that 86.8% of licensed beds in Thurston County are occupied by patients, above the state’s goal of under 80%.

The stress isn’t due to COVID-19, according to Slaughter, who said it could be due to multiple factors, including an increase in the number of people out with the economy slowly reopening and the resuming of elective surgeries.

Healthcare system readiness is one of the factors that determines whether a community can handle a potential surge in cases of the disease as the economy reopens under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan. Reverting to Phase 2 isn’t currently a concern for Thurston County, Slaughter told county commissioners. Thurston County moved into Phase 3 on June 24.

Thurston County released its weekly COVID-19 update that includes information on where the disease is spreading, how many cases are in each ZIP code and the demographics of those who have been diagnosed.

Four ZIP codes in the county now have 30 or more cases. The newest is the 98501 ZIP code, which has 30 cases, 98503 has 34, 98513 has 37 and 98512 has the most at 38. Olympics West Retirement Inn, which has had the county’s largest outbreak so far, is in the 98512 ZIP code.

The only ZIP code without any new cases announced since last week was the 98531 ZIP code, where the number of cases is in the 1-9 case range, according to county data.

The number of cases confirmed in Black and Hispanic Thurston County residents is still disproportionate to their populations. Black people make up 3 percent of the county and 9 percent of cases. People who identify as Hispanic make up 9 percent of the county and 20 percent of cases. These two groups are split into separate categories, Black in “race” and Hispanic in “ethnicity,” so, for example, one person can identify as both Black and Hispanic.


• Pierce County confirmed 47 new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths on Tuesday. So far 2,553 people have been diagnosed and 89 have died.

• Lewis County announced two new cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 72 cases with three deaths.

• Mason County reports no new cases. So far in the county, 47 cases have been confirmed and one person has died.

• Grays Harbor County reported one new case on Monday, leaving it with 26 total cases.

Meanwhile, Washington state’s Department of Health announced nearly 600 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 32,824 cases and 1,332 deaths.

The U.S. leads the world in cases at over 2.6 million and has had 127,322 people die from the disease as of Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Globally, over 10.4 million people have been diagnosed with the disease and about 510,000 have died due to it.