The number of COVID-19 cases are going down a little bit in Kitsap County after skyrocketing earlier this month, but the death rate is still high.
In Kitsap County, 16 people died this past week, after 15 died the week before. Those are the highest numbers since the pandemic began in March of 2020. On Wednesday, the Kitsap Public Health District confirmed three new COVID-related deaths, bringing the countywide total to 172.
The health district noted an active outbreak of 25 cases at the assisted-living facility Madrona House on Bainbridge Island and an outbreak of 23 cases at Poulsbo’s Liberty Shores senior center. Outbreaks are listed as “active” if an associated case has been identified in the previous 28 days.
Over the last seven days, the rate of positive tests on Bainbridge Island is 118.3 per 100,000 population, according to health district data from Sept. 16. That’s higher than last week, but still below South Kitsap and Bremerton, which are both still above 300.
Hospitalizations at St. Michael Medical Center are higher than at any previous point in the pandemic, driven by unvaccinated COVID patients. Elective procedures are being delayed as a result.
The rate of COVID cases has increased 14-fold from early July to early September – from about seven new cases a day to more than 100 — Health Officer Dr. Gib Morrow told the Kitsap County Health Board at a recent meeting. Morrow attributed the “explosion” of cases to relaxation of guidelines, increased reopenings and summer events and gatherings, all occurring during the rise of the Delta variant.
Case rates remain high among children up to age 18, but are still lower than those among adults. Children 11 years old and younger are still awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval for vaccination.
Kitsap County vaccination rates (71.1% have initiated vaccination, 65.5% have completed their series) are below the state vaccination rate (75.8%, 68.9%). Over 166,000 Kitsap residents have received at least one dose of vaccine; 53% of children ages 12 to 18 are fully vaccinated.
Morrow has called on local elected political and business leaders to enact vaccine requirements for their employees and customers. Employers in non-healthcare settings may choose to require COVID vaccines for their staff.
Details on the 16 most-recent deaths have not yet been provided by the health district. Of the previous 156 deaths, 69 were ages 80 and older, 37 ages 70-79, 29 ages 60-69, 14 ages 50-59, five ages 40-49 and two ages 30-39.
Additionally, 69 new COVID cases were also confirmed in the previous 24 hours, bringing the countywide total to 14,201 since the pandemic began.
Of the new cases, North Kitsap had eight and Bainbridge Island two; 24 were in South Kitsap, 17 in Bremerton; and 16 in Central Kitsap. Two cases came from an unknown area.
A total of 864 cases are in their recommended “isolation period” (10 days after first symptoms.) To date, the number of Kitsap County residents ages 12 and older who have initiated vaccination is 71.1%. The positive cases per 1,000 people is 216.8, but in a recent seven-day span it had increased to 271.1.
Of the 14,201 total cases, 518 have been reported on Bainbridge Island, 3,838 in Bremerton, 3,203 in Central Kitsap, 2,142 in North Kitsap and 4,492 in South Kitsap. Eight cases have come from unknown areas.
Other COVID news
Gov. Jay Inslee has expanded the state’s mask mandate to include outdoor gatherings of 500 or more people. Masks are required in all indoor public settings.
Oct. 18 is the deadline Inslee has set for state employees, health care employees and K-12 school staffs and volunteers to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.
Four COVID drive-through testing sites around the county are being conducted by the health district and the county Emergency Operations Center. Sites on Bainbridge Island (Mondays), downtown Bremerton (Tuesdays), Port Orchard (Wednesdays) and downtown Poulsbo (Thursdays) offer PCR testing from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Registration is recommended, since onsite registrations are limited. Register or find other testing opportunities around the county at kcowa.us/covidtesting.
People who test themselves at home and test positive should report their results by calling the state Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and follow CDC recommendations for isolation or quarantine.
778 COVID cases were reported countywide in the most-recent week with full data available (Sept. 5-11): 27 cases on BI, 141 in North Kitsap, 193 in Bremerton, 168 in Central Kitsap and 246 in South Kitsap.
Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested if they: Are showing symptoms of COVID and have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. If you’re not fully vaccinated, you should also get tested if you: Have taken part in activities that put you at higher risk, such as being in large gatherings or crowded indoor settings or are traveling (even domestically). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends unvaccinated people get tested one to three days before a trip and three to five days after returning from a trip.
The KPHD website says a massive research study of 340,000 adults in Bangladesh shows “conclusive, real-world evidence” on the effectiveness of surgical masks limiting the spread of COVID.