OKANOGAN – While there were only three new positive cases of COVID-19 in the three day’s leading up to Okanogan County Public Health’s Monday, March 8 update, in the previous 14 days there were 56 cases, marking a slight increase in the 14-day Incident Rate.
The new Incident Rate was 131.1 per 100,000 of population. The prior update from Monday, March 3 showed a 14-day Incident Rate of 93.6 per 100,000.
The people who tested positive for the virus from March 5 to March 7 came from Omak, two and Okanogan, one.
Okanogan County has had 2,183 (up 82) confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst its residents and 34 deaths.
According to Public Health’s cumulative totals, Brewster has had a total of 712 people (up six from the previous update) who have tested positive for the virus since testing began in the county. The next highest is Omak, with 413 (up 29); Tonasket, 270 (up 10); Oroville, 214 (up four); Okanogan, 185 (up three); Pateros, 66; Nespelem, 67 (up nine); Malott, 45 (up two); Winthrop, 45 (up five); Coulee Dam, 44 (up three); Twisp, 44 (up five) Riverside, 27; Elmer City, 18 and Loomis and Carlton, ten each (both up one); “unidentified,” five; Conconully, two (up one) and Mazama, one.
The highest number of deaths from the virus is in Tonasket, where 17 people have succumbed. The next highest number of fatalities attributed to COVID-19 is in Brewster, eight and Omak, three. The towns of Malott, Okanogan, Oroville and Pateros have had one death each. Two deaths are listed as “Unidentified.”
The highest number of COVID-19 cases in Okanogan County has been found in the 20-39 age group with 776 (up 24) and two deaths. The 40-59 age group has had 628 (up 21) cases and two deaths. Next is the 0-19 age group with 368 (up 26) cases and no fatalities. Those aged 60-79 have had 340 (up 10) cases and 10 deaths. Age 80 and above have had 71 (up one) cases and two fatalities. There were 18 deaths listed in the “unreleased” category.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced Monday that health care providers have given more than two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since rollout began in mid-December. This milestone follows several major achievements in the past week, including reaching the state’s goal of giving 45,000 doses of vaccine per day and approaching 100,000 doses of vaccine administered at four state-led mass vaccination sites in just six weeks.
The state has enrolled almost 1400 provider facilities to give COVID-19 vaccines. As of March 8, providers have given more than 80 percent of the vaccine doses delivered in the state—up from 29 percent in early January.
“I am so grateful for the tireless efforts of our partners on the ground, including local health jurisdictions, community health centers, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and so many others. The successes we are seeing are a testament to their hard work over the past few months,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “As our race to vaccinate Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible continues, these accomplishments are further proof that hope is on the horizon.”
From the beginning of the vaccine rollout, the state has worked to address inequities and barriers to accessing vaccine. DOH developed eight strategies for equitable vaccine distribution based on extensive feedback from the partners, sectors and communities most impacted by COVID-19.
“We continue gathering and implementing feedback from partners and communities as we work to improve equitable access to this lifesaving vaccine,” said Michele Roberts, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Community Health and one of the state’s leaders for the vaccine rollout.
Educators now eligible
Following President Joe Biden’s announcement Tuesday, March 2, DOH has opened COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to every pre-K-12 educator, school staff member and childcare worker in the state of Washington. DOH says it understands the unique role educators play in supporting families and children. Prior to the president’s announcement, the agency had been planning to open vaccine eligibility to teachers in the near future. This directive speeds up the process, immediately adding roughly 260,000 more people to the 2.1 million currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Washington.
Educators are encouraged to receive their vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which will prioritize educators at their sites through the end of March. Currently there are six pharmacies in Washington involved in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program: Safeway/Albertsons, Walmart, Costco, Rite Aid, Health Mart Independent Pharmacies, and Kroger. This week these pharmacies will receive a total of 65,000 doses of vaccine. Next week they will receive 72,000 doses. This is in addition to the allocation Washington receives each week. Using the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, we believe we will be able to administer first doses to educators across the state by the end of March.
DOH remains committed to continued vaccination for older adults and others who are currently eligible for vaccine. We will continue to work hard to vaccinate highly vulnerable populations at locations across the state, including pharmacies, mass vaccination clinics, hospitals, community health centers, and more.
Due to an increase in weekly allocations, DOH has been able to provide more and more vaccine to our partners across the state. Washington’s three-week forecast from the federal government helps DOH develop a multi-week strategy that supports consistency and predictability. The forecast is subject to change as vaccine availability from the federal government may change.
- Week of March 7: 309,770 total doses (163,660 first doses, 146,110 second doses)
- Week of March 14: 320,300 total doses (163,660 first doses, 156,640 second doses)
- Week of March 21: 327,320 total doses (163,660 first doses, 163,660 second doses)
“Although we are moving in the right direction, we still are not able to provide all the doses our providers request. Next week’s allocation is about 100,000 fewer doses than our providers requested,” said DOH
Johnson & Johnson vaccine
A third highly effective COVID-19 vaccine is starting to be available in Washington. Vaccination is a critical tool needed to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to DOH. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help protect people more quickly.
On Feb. 27 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Johnson & Johnson for the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. Clinical trial data in the EUA shows the vaccine is 85% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness and 100% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths 28 days after individuals were vaccinated. Earlier this week the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup voted to recommend the vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine joins the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are also authorized for emergency use.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help increase vaccine supply across the state and improve access to COVID-19 vaccines in areas where providers do not have the capability to store frozen versions. Additionally, the vaccine only requires one dose, which will help people get protected against COVID-19 without worrying about finding or scheduling an appointment for a second dose. Washington was allocated 60,900 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It is important to DOH that counties get their proportional share of vaccine, which is why they are sending some of last week’s Johnson & Johnson allocations to counties where allocations were lower in recent weeks.
DOH found out from the federal government that the state will not receive more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for three more weeks due to lack of supply. Although this is disappointing news, said DOH, they have been told allocations should begin again the week of March 21.
When it is your time to get vaccinated, DOH asks to remember the best vaccine to get is the vaccine that is available to you. All three vaccines are highly effective lifesaving tools.
More information on COVID-19 vaccine is available at www.COVIDVaccineWA.org