Recent COVID case counts in Okanogan County are stark proof that the Omicron variant is significantly more contagious than earlier strains – in the 14 days most recently reported, the number of new cases accounted for almost 17% of all cases in the county in the entire two years of the virus.
There were 1,248 cases recorded by Okanogan County Public Health from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1, out of a cumulative total of 7,498.
Still, there’s some indication that the surge may be leveling off, since during the second week of that period, Public Health reported 590 cases, 68 fewer than the week before. Because Public Health is reporting new cases every Wednesday, more recent numbers weren’t available by press time.
New cases, while still at their highest numbers ever, have started to drop in Washington overall, but most counties in eastern Washington – including Okanogan – probably won’t see a significant decrease in new infections for another week or two, according to numbers from the state Department of Health. Neighboring Douglas County had the third-highest rate per 100,000 population over the most recent seven days reported by the state.
Omicron cases tend to be milder than other strains, according to health officials. The number of patients hospitalized for COVID at Central Washington Hospital has dropped almost by half in the past week, from 32 to 18.
Free tests and vaccines
• Order at-home tests at www.sayyescovidhometest.org or COVIDtests.gov.
• Okanogan County Public Health has changed the location of its Friday vaccine clinics from the Agriplex to Legion Park in Okanogan. First, second and booster doses of Pfizer (adult and pediatric), Moderna, and J&J. Feb. 11 and 25, March 11 and 25, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register: https://okanogancountycovid19.org/covid-19-vaccine.
• Ulrich’s Valley Pharmacy. Moderna vaccine and booster. Register: healthmartcovidvaccine.com
• Confluence Health. Pfizer vaccine and booster. Call for appointment: (509) 826-1800
•Family Health Centers. Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J. Call for appointment: 1-800-660-2129