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Vancouver, WA — Clark County Public Health reported today that the COVID-19 activity rate, which had gone down to 90 cases per 100,000 has climbed steadily over the last few weeks and is now at 198 cases per 100,000.

The health department’s Tuesday COVID-19 update includes the following data:

  • 90 new confirmed cases (21,101 to date)
  • 9 new antigen probable cases (945 to date)
  • 1 new suspect death
  • 255 total deaths to date (226 confirmed, 29 suspect)
  • 646 active cases (in isolation period)
  • Clark County COVID-19 activity rate is 198.1 cases per 100,000 (up from 147.6 cases per 100,000 last week)
  • 31 COVID-19 patients hospitalized
  • 4 people hospitalized awaiting COVID-19 test results

Additional information about the new suspect death: Man in his 50s, unknown whether underlying health conditions.

Reminder: Confirmed cases are people with a positive molecular (PCR) test for COVID-19. Antigen probable cases are people with a positive antigen test and no molecular test.

A confirmed death means COVID is listed as cause of death or contributing factor on the death certificate and the case has a positive COVID test. A suspect death means COVID is not listed as a contributing factor on the death certificate (but wasn’t ruled out as cause of death) and the person died after testing positive for COVID within 28 days.

Learn more on the COVID-19 data webpage: https://clark.wa.gov/public-health/covid-19-data

Washington — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidelines on Tuesday showing which activities that COVID-19 vaccinated citizens may enjoy, including attending small outdoor gatherings without face coverings.

The new recommendations detail many situations in which fully vaccinated citizens may forgo wearing a face mask, but emphasized their continued use in most indoor settings and crowded outdoor areas.

“Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do. Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.”

The new recommendations say fully vaccinated individuals can engage in the following activities without wearing face coverings:

  • Attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends.
  • Attending small outdoor gatherings with a mixture of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
  • Walking, running, hiking or biking outdoors alone or with members of their household.
  • Dining at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said that “the risk of infection outside is really minimum. If you’re vaccinated, and you’re outside, it’s even less.”

Fully vaccinated people may also attend “a crowded, outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event,” as long as they remain masked.

Walensky urged fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors, citing there are 50,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, but said it is “safe for those who are fully vaccinated to return to the activities they love doing inside while wearing a mask.”

The CDC website says “Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”

The new guidelines suggest that fully vaccinated individuals continue wearing masks when in public spaces, when gathering indoors with unvaccinated people from more than one household, when visiting unvaccinated high-risk individuals or in an outdoor setting or venue where masks are required. The updated CDC guidance recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.

Vancouver, WA — According to Clark County Public Health, the COVID-19 vaccination site at Tower Mall in central Vancouver will have more than 4,000 first-dose appointments available this Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday (1,000 per day).

For now, only those currently eligible to be vaccinated (those in Phase 1a and 1b) can schedule appointments. But when eligibility changes Thursday, anyone 16 and older can schedule an appointment. Minors can be vaccinated at the site if their consent form is signed by a parent or guardian.

Visit the Safeway/Albertsons website to schedule an appointment (https://kordinator.mhealthcoach.net/vcl/VncvrTwrMllWeek3).

Those who do not have Internet access or need help scheduling an appointment can call Public Health at 888.225.4625. Call center representatives can assist with scheduling, and language assistance is available. The Tower Mall site is administering Pfizer vaccine. Second-dose appointments will automatically be scheduled for three weeks later at the same time, day of the week and location. Those vaccine scheduling appointments are asked to ensure the time and day of week they select will work for their first- and second-dose vaccine appointments.

Find more information about COVID-19 vaccines and how to access appointments on our website: https://clark.wa.gov/public-health/covid-19-vaccine

Olympia, WA — Gov. Jay Inslee today announced the rollback of three counties that are not meeting the Phase 3 Healthy Washington reopening metrics.

The three counties returning to Phase 2 are:

  • Cowlitz County
  • Pierce County
  • Whitman County

“These metric trends are driven by the virus and we must continue to do everything we can to sharpen our focus and keep COVID-19 activity down. We are so close to the end of the tunnel here — we have made tremendous progress and we must keep our focus,” Inslee said. “It’s like a football game; we have done 95 yards on a 99 yard-drive. We can’t let up now. These are not punitive actions; they are to save lives and protect public health.”

“Vaccine is a crucial tool that will help us end the pandemic, but it isn’t the only tool, and we don’t yet have enough Washingtonians fully vaccinated to rely on this alone to keep our communities safe from the virus,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID-19 response, Department of Health. “We need to focus on lowering disease transmission in the next several weeks ahead as we continue our vaccination efforts in order to avoid a fourth surge of cases. This means wearing masks, watching our distancing and keeping gatherings small and outdoors.”

Last Friday, the governor announced updates to the Healthy Washington criteria:

  • In order to move down one phase, a county must fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations. Under the previous plan, a county only needed to fail one metric to move back a phase.
  • The spectator events guidance is updated to make clear what is allowed for counties in Phase 2 and how these events are related to school graduation ceremonies. That guidance is available here.
  • The Open Air Seating guidance is updated to allow flexibility for eating and drinking establishments. That guidance is available here.
  • The next evaluation of counties will be in three weeks, on May 3.

This Thursday, April 15, all Washingtonians (16+) will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Olympia, WA — Today Gov. Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health announced that Washington will align with new CDC guidance around physical distancing in schools.

Under the new guidance, students should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distancing from each other in classrooms. Previous guidance required 6 feet of distance. This change only applies to students; staff should continue to maintain 6 feet of distance from other staff and students.

There are some other circumstances when 6 feet of distance is still required for all students and staff:
• In common areas, such as auditoriums.
• When masks cannot be word, such as when eating.
• During activities when increased exhalation occurs, such as singing, band practice and PE.

When COVID-19 activity is high (more than 200 cases per 100k or test positivity higher than 10%), the state and CDC recommend that middle and high school students are group together and maintain at least 3 feet of distance between each other. When students cannot be grouped together, the CDC and DOH recommend 6 feet of distance.

The state guidance for schools has been reflected to update these changes. See the full guidance here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/FallGuidanceK-12.pdf

Inslee
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Olympia, WA – Anyone 60 years old and older, along with restaurant, manufacturing and construction workers, will soon be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine in Washington, said Governor Jay Inslee.

The next group of state residents will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting March 31, giving two million more people the opportunity to get their shot.

“I’m happy about the general pace,” Inslee told reporters. “This timeline is much faster than we would’ve predicted a few months ago.”

The newly eligible group includes:

  • Anyone from age 60 through 64
  • Additional workers in congregate settings, such as restaurants, manufacturing and construction
  • Anyone with two or more underlying medical conditions, such as cancer or heart disease
  • People living in a congregate setting, such as a correctional facility or group home, and those experiencing homelessness.

These people join those 65 and up, 50 and up in a multigenerational household, and K-12 teachers and childcare workers. Additionally, pregnant women, people with disabilities that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 and high-risk critical workers, including agriculture, grocery store and public transit workers, became eligible Wednesday.

Inslee
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidelines for schools Friday, declaring three feet of distance between students is sufficient for all elementary and many middle and high schools.

This announcement lays the groundwork for districts to reopen full-time for in-person classes.

The CDC published new research that found limited coronavirus transmission in schools that require masks but not always six feet of distance, which had been the standard used to reopen schools around the nation. That was true even in areas with high community spread of the virus.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the issue is urgent.

“Indeed, because six feet has been such a challenge there, science has leaned in and there are now emerging studies on the question between three feet and six feet,” Walensky told Sen. Susan Collins during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Inslee
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What’s in the CDC guidance

As always, masks are recommended. At times when it’s not possible to accommodate masks, like when eating, CDC says six feet of distance should be maintained.

The agency recommends keeping student and teachers in distinct groups, or cohorts, throughout the day and maintaining 6 feet of distance between those groups, when possible. In middle schools and high schools where community transmission is high, CDC advises students to stay 6 feet apart, if cohorting is not possible.

CDC also recommends 6 feet of distance in common areas, like lobbies and auditoriums, and during activities like singing, shouting, band or sport practices. They say it’s better to move those kinds of activities, where increased exhalation occurs, outdoors or to well-ventilated spaces.

In classrooms, CDC says layout changes, like removing nonessential furniture and facing desks in the same direction, can help maximize distance between students. On school buses, the agency recommends seating students one child per row, skipping rows and opening windows to increase ventilation.

Vancouver, WA — Clark County Public Health announced today that the county’s COVID-19 activity rate dropped again to 88.8 cases per 100,000, which is down from 103.5 cases per 100,000 last week.

Today’s COVID-19 update:

  • 30 new cases 
  • 18,843 cases to date
  • 1 new confirmed death
  • 232 total deaths to date (208 confirmed, 24 suspect)
  • 259 active cases (in isolation period)
  • Clark County COVID-19 activity rate is 88.8 cases per 100,000 (down from 103.4 cases per 100,000 last week)
  • 19 COVID-19 patients hospitalized
  • 3 people hospitalized awaiting COVID-19 test results

Deaths are reported once the death record is finalized in the state database. On average, deaths are reported 10-12 days after they occur. A confirmed death means COVID is listed as cause of death or contributing factor on the death certificate and the case has a positive COVID test.

Camas
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COVID-19 activity is determined by calculating the number of new cases per 100,000 residents in the county over 14 days. Public Health calculates the current COVID-19 activity level in Clark County once a week and posts the updated rate on the website every Tuesday.

Recent COVID-19 activity levels (rate is calculated weekly):

  • Feb. 8: 262.2 cases per 100,000
  • Feb. 15: 209.8 cases per 100,000
  • Feb. 22: 137.0 cases per 100,000
  • March 1: 105.4 cases per 100,000
  • March 8: 103.4 cases per 100,000
  • March 15: 88.8 cases per 100,000

According to Clark County Public Health, Governor Inslee and Washington State Department of Health today announced updates to the Phase 1b vaccination tiers and provided a tentative timeline for advancing to the next tiers.

“We are not yet advancing to the next tier,” the health department said. “Washington state remains in Phase 1b Tier 1.”

Here are the changes and tentative timeline announced today:

Phase 1b Tier 2 – opening March 22

  • All critical workers in certain congregate settings (change: no longer tiered by age; list of qualifying congregate settings has been expanded)
  • People age 16 or older who are pregnant (new qualification)
  • People age 16 or older who have a disability that puts them at higher risk (change: moved up from a later tier)

Phase 1b Tier 3

  • Opening April 12: People with 2 or more comorbidities age 50 or older
  • Opening April 26: People with 2 or more comorbidities age 16 or older

Phase 1b Tier 4 – opening April 26 

  • People who live in congregate housing
  • Staff and volunteers who work in congregate settings not covered in 1B tier 2

More information, including details about who is included in the above groups, is available here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/SummaryInterimVaccineAllocationPriortization.pdf

COVID-19
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Olympia, WA — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released this statement in response to President Biden’s directive to get all teachers nationwide at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine during the month of March.

This is the DOH Statement:

“As you heard today, President Biden announced a directive to all states to get every pre-K educator, K-12 teacher, and licensed childcare worker at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine in the month of March.

“The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recognizes the importance of vaccinating educators, school staff, and childcare workers. School staff and childcare workers were already in the next group to become eligible for vaccines, and our state was moving to vaccinate them in a matter of weeks. This announcement represents a faster timeline than originally planned, and the department is engaging partners on a robust plan to support this directive.

“DOH is working quickly to get clarity from the Biden Administration to ensure roll-out in our state will result in ample vaccine supply through various providers and equitable access for education and childcare workers. Vaccine supply will likely primarily be delivered through the federal pharmacy program, and the directive indicates all vaccine providers should prioritize these workers.

“DOH remains committed to continued vaccination for older adults and others who are currently prioritized for vaccinations under the current plan. DOH also remains committed to vaccinating all Washingtonians as quickly and equitably as possible.

“DOH acknowledges these announcements may cause a mix of excitement, concern, and confusion for different communities. The department will share more information in the days ahead as DOH learns more from our federal partners.“