Okanogan County recorded 159 COVID infections in the week ending Oct. 31, 20 more than in the previous week. Cases were spread throughout the eastern and northern parts of the county, with only one case in the Methow Valley, in Carlton, according to Okanogan County Public Health.
Almost half of the cases were in people aged 39 and under, and 33 were in the youngest group, from zero to 19.
The vaccination rate in the county increased by 2.4% in the past month to 55.3%.
The Washington Department of Health (DOH) estimates that 63.5% of the state’s population has immunity to the virus. The majority of the immunity comes from vaccination — 43.2% of the population is protected by vaccination. The share of the population with immunity from prior infection is estimated at 20.3%, according to DOH.
Statewide, COVID cases have declined from early September, but then started to plateau, Gov. Jay Inslee said at a press conference last week. With colder weather, more indoor activities, and holiday gatherings coming up, Inslee said he’s concerned the state could face a “sixth wave” of COVID if more people don’t get vaccinated and take other precautions, such as masking, distancing, and making sure there’s good ventilation when indoors.
Although COVID hospitalizations have been falling, hospitals are still fuller than usual, with overall occupancy over 90%. The high hospitalization numbers are due to an increase in people seeking health care and elective procedures that had been deferred at the peak of the Delta surge, along with staffing shortages, DOH said.
Cases of COVID serious enough to require hospitalization are occurring disproportionately in unvaccinated individuals. People aged 12 to 34 are 16 times more likely to be hospitalized, people 35 to 64 are 18 times more likely, and people 65 and older are nine times more likely, according to state Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases Scott Lindquist.
Starting Nov. 15, people attending large events — 1,000 or more people indoors or 10,000 or more outdoors — will be required to show proof of a COVID vaccine or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event. The governor’s proclamation applies to everyone age 12 and older.