Kitsap is among eight counties in Western Washington that are now recommending people wear masks in indoor public places due to rising cases of COVID-19 and the highly infectious Delta variant.
“This step will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the public, including customers and workers, help stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in many parts of the state and decrease the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant,” the joint statement from the eight counties says.
Health officials making the recommendation no matter what your vaccination status is are in King, Snohomish, Pierce, Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and San Juan counties.
Even though the coronavirus vaccines offer a high level of protection against severe illnesses that lead to hospitalization, they aren’t 100% effective – there have been 3,446 such cases statewide since January.
The rise corresponds with statewide and national increases in COVID driven by the highly contagious delta variant. Here are some trends KPHD epidemiologists are tracking:
- Case rates are highest among young people and populations with lower vaccination rates. During the most recent week with data available, 58% of the cases were among Kitsap residents younger than 35, and cases are rising rapidly among people younger than 18.
- Bremerton, which has the lowest vaccination rate in the county, had the highest rate of new cases.
- The percent of all COVID tests that are positive has increased substantially.
- Hospitalizations remained elevated over the past three weeks. Eight Kitsap residents were hospitalized with COVID as of July 17.
- Kitsap County’s vaccination rate is increasing incrementally, but more than one-third of residents are not yet protected. About 150,000 Kitsap residents (roughly 65% of those 12 and older) have initiated vaccination.
“As much as we want to be done with COVID, we cannot ignore our rising case counts or the growing threat posed by virus variants,” KPHD health officer Dr. Gib Morrow said. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and help our community fight off this new wave of disease.”
The health district also noted a few things about the delta variant:
- Viruses change or mutate over time. The delta variant is one of several COVID variants tracked by public health.
- The delta variant is more contagious, spreads more easily, and results in more serious illness than the original COVID virus. That could cause more people to become sick and hospitalized.
- The delta variant accounts for the majority of new cases in the United States. The delta variant is spreading throughout Washington and in Kitsap County.
- COVID vaccines provide good protection against the delta variant. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community against delta and other COVID variants.