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New Covid case rate drops to mid-August level – local and national update for October 7, 2021

Case rates remain high and hospitals in Eastern Washington continue to struggle.

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[KING COUNTY, Wash.] – (MTN) For the first time since August 17, the 14 days moving average for new Covid-19 cases in Washington state dropped below 400. Hospitalizations have only declined slightly. A combination of patients arriving sicker, non-Covid related hospitalizations, and transfer patients both inside and outside of Washington continue to push medical workers to the breaking point.

UW Medicine will no longer do solid organ transplants on patients who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine.

Pfizer applies for Covid-19 vaccine emergency use authorization for children 5 to 11 years old and the FDA will hold a hearing on October 26.

Hospitalizations in Eastern Washington are increasing, and the eastern half of the state continues to see many more new Covid-19 cases versus other regions with higher vaccination rates. Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett reported 30 patients in the emergency department waiting for beds.

Leaders in Alaska, Idaho, and Montana appear to be trying to find new levels of awful in their response, and non-response to the situation in their respective states. Wyoming had a record number of pediatric patients in September, and state officials are drafting a “crisis standards of care” plan.

This update uses the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH), released on October 7, 2021.


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Washington State Update for October 7, 2021

Washington state Covid-19 update

For the first time since August 17, the new case rate is below 400. New cases were down slightly in all but the least vaccinated counties, where new Covid-19 cases increased.

Percent of Total Population Fully VaccinatedAverage 14-Day New Case Rate (unadjusted)
60.00% or above (4)205.3
50.00% to 59.99% (13 counties)513.4
40.00% to 49.99% (14 counties)613.4
29.30% to 39.99% (8 counties)739.7 (up)
14-Day New Covid-19 Cases per 100K average by Vaccination Rate, Not Adjusted for Population

Through October 6, Washington’s statewide 14-day rolling average is 398.0 Covid-19 cases per 100K.

Ferry County continues to get worse, reporting 1,137.8 new cases per 100K residents. This is approaching the same level the county experience in April after a superspreader event in the town of Republic.

Counties in the 800.0 to 999.9 per 100K range include Columbia, Grant, Klickitat, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, and Stevens.

Counties in the 600.0 to 799.9 per 100K range include Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Franklin, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Mason, Okanogan, and Walla Walla. Douglas and Lewis counties are just under 600.0.

New cases by age group were statistically unchanged while hospitalizations were mixed.

Age Group7-Day Case Rate7-Day Hospitalization Rate
Ages 0-11167.00.8 (down)
Ages 12-19196.10.8
Ages 20-34164.94.6 (down)
Ages 35-49174.88.8
Ages 50-64121.815.8 (up)
Ages 65-7993.616.7 (down)
Ages 80+106.936.6 (up)
7-day case rate and 7-day hospitalization rate is per 100K within the age group – the target for 7-day case rate is <25.0, but there are other factors such as vaccination rates within the age groups, how many total tests within the 7-day period, and the positivity rate within each age group

The USA Today COVID Tracker reported 57 deaths yesterday. The state of Washington is not reporting the percentage of positive cases.

UW Medicine requires Covid-19 vaccine for all solid organ transplant patients

UW Medicine now requires all recipients of solid organ transplants to be vaccinated for Covid-19. The hospital system updated its Covid-19 FAQ yesterday, making a previously reported policy official. The site indicated the policy was put into place because, “After a transplant, your immune system is suppressed and in a prolonged weakened state. This makes you less able to develop an appropriate immune response to the vaccine. It also makes you more vulnerable to infections from viruses like COVID-19 that can lead to severe illness or death.”

Unvaccinated organ transplant patients experience 20% to 30% mortality if they catch Covid-19, which is about the same fatality rate of smallpox or the mild variant of Ebola. Patients who need an organ transplant typically require other vaccines such as an MMR booster, Hepatitis B, and Varicella or Zoster.

Patient compliance with medical instructions pre-transplant weighs into the authorization decision. People who exhibit low compliance pre-transplant typically don’t follow through on their care plan after a transplant. Alcoholics that need a liver transplant are required to be clean and sober for months while lung transplant recipients need to stop using tobacco products.

Additionally, some anti-vaccination followers believe they are part of a “pureblood” movement and are rejecting blood transfusions because the blood supply isn’t separated between vaccinated and unvaccinated. That begs the question if the blood of a vaccinated person isn’t acceptable, why would an organ from a vaccinated person be?

Central Washington University professor dies of Covid-19

58-year-old Dr. Maria Roditeleva-Wibe, scholar and college professor, died of Covid-19 on October 2. Roditeleva-Wibe was a Russian immigrant and had worked at Central Washington University for over 20 years.

In 1999 she accepted a proposal to become an exchange professor at Central Washington University where she began teaching music theory, music history, class piano, and world music. Over the 20 plus years of her stay at Central, Maria regularly accompanied students and faculty members, as well as performing her own piano recitals. In 2006 Central awarded her the Outstanding Non-Tenure Track Teaching Award in recognition of her work; this was followed by Maria’s reception in 2013 of the Distinguished Teaching Award to honor her outstanding contribution to CWU’s academic life.

A former student, who asked not to be identified out of respect for the family, told Malcontent News Roditeleva-Wibe didn’t trust the government and was unvaccinated.

She leaves behind her husband, Mark.

Travel Advisories

We continue to recommend avoiding recreational travel to Spokane County. We strongly advise against all nonessential travel to Alaska, Idaho, and Montana. Hospital resources in these regions are constrained, and you may receive inadequate care if you experience a medical emergency.

The East Hospital Region inched closer to receiving a recreational travel advisory. Hospitals in Eastern Washington are very stressed due to the unvaccinated population east of the Cascade and Idaho residents seeking treatment in Washington state.

Thank you

Thank you to our new subscribers and those of you who have made one-time contributions. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for helping us keep the lights on!

In August, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin mentioned the N95 Project as a trusted source for N95 masks. A check on the website showed that a 50 count box of United States manufactured N95 masks are available for $40.00. We recommend wearing N95 masks indoors as they provide the best protection against COVID when properly fitted.

No promotional consideration has been given, or requested from the n95 project or any manufacturer of masks

Vaccination

Pfizer applies for Covid-19 vaccine Emergency Use Authorization for children 5-11

Pfizer and BioNTech have asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of their coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, the companies announced Thursday, according to a report in USA Today.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will need to sign off on the vaccine before it becomes available to children of those ages. An independent expert panel will review the data on October 26.

Pfizer vaccine booster shots are now available

Booster shots for eligible individuals are now available statewide. Individuals who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago, are 65 or older, or are immunocompromised can receive their third dose immediately.

In the Kirland-Bellevue-Woodinville area, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Bartell’s, and QFC are offering booster shots. Additionally, the third dose is available at the CVS located within the Target store at 17,700 NE 76th Street in Redmond.

Most locations require an appointment, which can be scheduled online.

King County, Washington is reporting over 86.7% of age eligible residents are vaccinated with at least one dose. The highest rates of positivity are in areas with low vaccination rates statewide. The FDA has provided full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for anyone 16 and over and EUA approval for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

COVID vaccines are free for anyone over 12 years old, and no appointment is necessary at most locations. Lyft and Hopelink provide free transportation, and KinderCare, the Learning Care Group, and the YMCA offer free childcare during vaccination appointments or recuperation.

For information on getting a vaccination in King County, you can visit the King County Department of Public Health website.

Malcontent News

Hospital Status

According to the DoH COVID Dashboard, 91% of all staffed acute care beds are occupied, and 17.2% of patients have Covid-19. Statewide, hospitals have the staff to support approximately 666 additional acute care patients. ICUs are at 88.1% of capacity statewide, with 30.0% of ICU patients fighting Covid-19 – an estimated 352 patients with 56% on ventilators. The state has the staff to support approximately 145 additional ICU patients.

The 7-day rolling average hospital admission rate for new COVID patients was 123. The Department of Health reported 1,193 Covid-19 patients statewide on October 6, with 197 requiring ventilators.

Hospital RegionCountiesICU OccupancyICU COVID PatientsAcute Care OccupancyAcute Care COVID Patients
EastAdams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whitman93.1%46.6%89.2%27.7%
NorthIsland, San Juan, Skagit, Whatcom74.8%34.2%86.2%13.1%
North CentralChelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan83.2%48.6%75.1%21.7%
NorthwestClallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason92.2%43.2%95.9%27.2%
Puget SoundKing, Pierce, Snohomish91.0%24.7%94.6%13.5%
South CentralBenton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas, Walla Walla, Yakima88.1%33.1%83.6%21.2%
SouthwestClark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania 72.8%33.1%85.9%21.4%
WestGrays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston78.7%21.8%84.5%15.9%
Hospital status by region – ICU Occupancy should be below 80%, ICU COVID Patients should be below 20%, Acute Care Occupancy should be below 80%, and Acute Care COVID Patients should be below 10%

We’re seeing a tale of two Hospital Regions in the data. All four metrics for the West Hospital Region are approaching a level that would trigger a recreational travel advisory. In contrast, The West Hospital Region continues to inch closer to normal. Eastern Washington and the Olympic Peninsula are the two regions holding the rest of the state back. It is important to note that the Puget Sound Region and East Region have a significant number of transfer patients, both from within Washington and out of state.

KING reported that Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett is backed up against a wall. On Wednesday they had 40 boarders, that is patients in the emergency department waiting for a bed, and 30 on Thursday.

“It’s disappointing we’re still in this position,” said Darren Redick, CEO of Providence Northwest Service Area.

“As of yesterday, we’ve opened up a six-bed satellite ICU to care for additional ICU patients, because we’re out of bed capacity in our normal ICU,” Redick explained. The hospital has been forced to cancel elective surgeries due to the surge of patients coming through the doors.

Back to School

School DistrictStatusLess than 10 Active Cases10 or More Active Cases
BellevueYELLOW– Ardmore (2*)
– Bellevue (7**)
– Big Picture (1*)
– Chinook (4*)
– Eastgate (1*)
– Enatai (3*)
– Highland (8**)
– Interlake (3*)
– Lake Hills (4*)
– Newport (4*)
– Newport Heights (1*)
– Puesta del Sol (1*)
– Sammamish (4*)
– Sherwood Forest (2*)
– Spiritridge (1*)
– Stevenson (2*)
– Tillicum (1*)
– Wilburton (3*)
– Woodridge (3*)
None
Lake WashingtonYELLOW– Bell Elementary (1*)
– Barton Elementary (1*)
– Dickinson/Explorer Elementary (1*)
– Ella Baker Elementary (1*)
– Eastlake High (2*)
– Finn Hill Middle School (3*)
– Franklin Elementary (2*)
– Frost Elementary (2*)
– ICS (1*)
– Inglewood Middle School (1*)
– Juanita Elementary (1*)
– Kamiakin Middle School (4*)
– Keller Elementary (2*)
– Kirkland Middle School (1* see notes)
– Lakeview Elementary (4*)
– McAuliffe Elementary (1*)
– Muir Elementary (1*)
– Northstar Middle (1*)
– Redmond Elementary (2*)
– Redmond Middle School (1*)
– Redmond High School (2*)
– Renaissance Middle School (1*)
– Rosa Parks Elementary (1*)
– Rush Elementary (1*)

see notes below
None
NorthshoreYELLOW– Arrowhead Elementary (5)
– Bothell High School (42**)
– Canyon Creek Elementary (19)
– Canyon Park Middle School (4)
– Cottage Lake Elementary (3)
– Crystal Springs Elementary (23)
– East Ridge Elementary (9)
– Fernwood Elementary (1)
– Frank Love Elementary (22)
– Hollywood Hills Elementary (34)
– Inglemoor High School (1)
– Innovation Lab High School (1)
– Kenmore Elementary (2)
– Kenmore Middle School (19)
– Leota Middle School (3)
– Lockwood Elementary (25**)
– Maywood Hills Elementary (11**)
– Moorlands Elementary (2)
– North Creek High School (7)
– Northshore Middle School (2)
– Secondary Academy for Success (4)
– Shelton View Elementary (6)
– Skyview Middle School (11)
– Sunrise Elementary (7)
– Timbercrest Middle School (5)
– Wellington Elementary (31**)
– Westhill Elementary (52)
– Woodin Elementary (5**)
– Woodinville High School (11)
– Woodmoor Elementary (12)
None
Local Districts Scorecard – * indicates positive cases only ** indicates 5 or more confirmed positive cases

We redefined the school district statuses. Information for classroom and building closures has been a challenge to obtain, both for closures and reopening. We are adopting moving any school with more than 10 active COVID cases reported into the red, and we’ve adjusted the third column to reflect this change.

Maywood Elementary in the Northshore School District reported six confirmed Covid-19 cases.

We have a parent confirmed report of a single Covid-19 case at Kirkland Middle School, with an additional 17 students quarantined.

We multiple parents e-mailed us about two confirmed Covid-19 cases at Juanita High School. However, because the district sent the e-mail on Monday, we cannot confirm if these are new or included in the last dashboard update.

We continued to encourage parents to request improved daily data reporting from the Lake Washington School District.

Kirkland-Bellevue-Woodinville

No update

National Round-Up

Johns Hopkins University Cumulative Case Tracker is reporting 111,503 new cases and 2,556 deaths nationwide on Wednesday. The United States has now lost 704,000 residents to Covid-19 since February 29, 2020. In 2020, when no vaccine was available, 352,000 people died – so far in 2021, with a vaccine, the same number have passed on.

A study out of the U.K., where they keep more detailed records of unvaccinated versus vaccinated fatalities, indicated just 1.2% of deaths since January 1 were among unvaccinated people. Covid-19 data in the United States are recorded at a state level, and some states such as Florida, Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming, don’t track statistics for vaccinated versus unvaccinated.

Alaska

Editor’s Note: I must remain objective. I must remain objective. I must remain objective.

As Alaska experiences the highest Covid-19 new case rate on the planet, Anchorage has been forced to ration Covid-19 testing because of a surprise budget shortfall.

Alaska Public Radio reported a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bronson said the administration plans to ask the city Assembly for additional cash “in the near future.” But for now, it’s scaling back its testing contractor’s hours at multiple sites around the city, with reductions totaling 108 hours a week, the contractor said.

Technically, Anchorage’s purchase order with its testing provider, California-based Visit Healthcare, runs through the end of October. But the city is paying a flat rate of $98 a test, and amid Alaska’s delta variant-driven surge, demand has been so high that without the reduced hours, Bronson’s administration would have exhausted its appropriation from the Assembly by Oct. 18, according to Acting Health Director Joe Gerace.

New cases in Alaska still lead the nation but have declined significantly from last week – but a lack of testing resources helps keep that number down. The state is still operating under “crisis standards of care” with 180 Covid-19 patients statewide. Alaska has 125 staffed ICU beds statewide, with 26 available. There were 842 new cases reported today. At the current rate of new cases detected, 1% of Alaska residents are catching Covid-19 every 8 days, and the state is under testing.

There appears to be a scandal at PeaceHealth Ketchikan. In April, registered nurse Marian Weber started work on the remote island as a traveling nurse. According to KTOO, she was a whistleblower who reported unsafe staffing levels impacting patient care.

“We had one patient that was intubated, and we had one that required continuous BiPAP (a type of ventilator), and these are ICU-level … patients,” she said.

But Weber said they weren’t placed in the intensive care unit — even though there were rooms available in the ICU that she said were equipped to handle COVID-19 patients.

Instead, she said, they were placed with the rest of the hospital’s COVID-19 patients in a section of the medical-surgical unit. And that was a problem, she said, because it meant critically ill patients couldn’t be monitored effectively from outside their rooms.

She was told to report the situation to a hospital administrator. On August 24, four days after reporting her concerns and just after signing a four-month contract extension, she was fired. On September 28, the hospital reported Sherry Dunlay, interim director of acute care, had abruptly departed.

Hospitals in Anchorage, Bethel, and Valdez continue to be the most impacted by the ongoing surge.

Idaho

Idaho has reported more than 1,321 new Covid-19 and another 24 deaths today. The state continues to see 1/2 of 1% of all residents infected every 7 days. In good news, the positivity rate dropped to 14.6%, however, it is likely higher with almost 8,000 tests awaiting processing.

Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin’s Indoctrination Task Force lost a member to Covid-19 this week. The task force was created to monitor and prevent critical race theory in Idaho schools, and other non-patriotic ideologies.

Pete Coulson, 67, was a member of the task force and told people he was “vaccinated by Christ.” After a three-week battle, he died of Covid-19.

“I am deeply saddened at the loss of Pete Coulson, as I’m sure everyone in (the) Treasure Valley is,” McGeachin wrote in a prepared statement Thursday. “He was loved by everyone who knew him, and he will be greatly missed. I’m praying for his family.”

If you’ve been following our coverage and thinking McGeachin’s beliefs and values are concerning, you’re not alone. According to a report in the News & Observer, a group of Republicans in Idaho have had enough.

Prominent mainstream Republicans, worried the state’s hard-right drift could scuttle their efforts to grow Idaho’s economy, are asking Democrats and Independents to register as Republicans to vote in the party’s May primary. “Everybody and their dog ought to get out to the primary and have their say so,” said Jim Jones, a former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and former Republican Idaho attorney general. “That’s where your vote counts.”

Kootenai Health told KTVB they set a record for the number of pregnant women hospitalized and saw a sharp increase in stillbirths.

“We have definitely seen more pregnant hospitalization in the ICU,” said Robert Scoggins, Kootenai Health’s ICU medical director. “You are really taking care of two people and I think that’s a really difficult situation, makes us all very nervous but so far we have been lucky.”

But not all of Idaho’s hospitals are so lucky. St. Luke’s Magic Valley in Twin Falls is reporting more stillbirths.

“We are seeing more stillbirths, unexplained stillbirths and towards the end of the pregnancy,” said Dr. Stacy Seyb, who specializes in Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Dr. Seyb said in April there were 18 confirmed cases of COVID cases in pregnant women across all St. Luke’s locations. September saw 150 confirmed cases. and 97% of hospitalized pregnant women are unvaccinated.

“If you are pregnant, you are three to five times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to succumb to the process and die,” Dr. Seyb said. “The thing about COVID is it causes issues with blood clotting and placentas are very vulnerable to blood clots and I think we can see smaller babies that aren’t growing well as well and so those are the types of things we see overall.”

May the odds ever be in your favor.

Montana

Montana’s situation continues to worsen with KTVQ reporting 1,301 new Covid-19 cases and 21 more hospitalizations, increasing the number to 465. At the current rate of new confirmed cases, 1% of all Montanans are infected with Covid-19 every eight days. With a hospitalization rate of 5%, Montana does not have the staffing or facility resources to meet the current surge.

Hospitalizations have increased 40% in the last month and Billings Clinic is having to pay traveling staff as much as $200 an hour to work in the struggling hospital.

According to Montana Public Radio, the Montana Hospital Association has asked the Gianforte administration to use federal COVID relief dollars to contract traveling staff like nurses and respiratory therapists, especially for small critical access hospitals that can’t afford them right now. Gianforte’s administration declined to do that. Spokesperson Jack O’Brien says the administration will find other ways to help hospitals obtain staffing, though no additional details were provided.

ICU nurse Laurie Sutphin had this to say. “The worst thing is that we had so much hope when the vaccine came out. We thought we’d never be here again.”

Wyoming

Officials reported 681 confirmed cases, and hospitalizations grew to 217. Wyoming had 12 pediatric Covid-19 patients in September, beating the record set in August according to the Star Tribune.

Ten Wyoming facilities reported a critical staffing shortage Thursday. Eleven reported anticipating such a shortage within the week.

According to Oil City News, seven hospitals had zero available ICU beds available and four had only one ICU bed available. While ICU beds are not exclusively used to treat COVID-19 patients, when hospitals deal with surges in these patients, that can put a strain on their ability to care for other types of critical-needs patients.

Wyoming officials are drafting a plan for statewide implementation of crisis standards of care.

Misinformation

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