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Relief on the horizon 500 days and four waves later

It has been 500 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was identified here in Snohomish County. With more than half of those 12 and older now fully vaccinated, more normalcy is coming in just over three weeks.
Snohomish County is well on the way to opening up. Image courtesy of Snohomish County.

By Heather Thomas, Snohomish Health District, June 4, 2021.

It has been 500 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was identified here in Snohomish County. In the 16 months since then, this county has weathered four waves of increasing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

Nearly 40,000 people in Snohomish County—roughly 1 in 20 residents—became reported cases.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s COVID-19 disease burden estimates that only 1 in 4 infections were reported, it’s possible that as many as 150,000 more residents may have been infected but not diagnosed. 

Close to 2,000 people in Snohomish County have been hospitalized since January 2020, along with 591 lives lost to COVID-19 that have left empty places at holiday tables and family get-togethers. However, the number of hospitalizations and deaths don’t give the full picture of COVID’s impact on our community.

While younger residents may have been spared from hospitalization, they are the ones more likely to have lasting impacts.

Research studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Clinical Infectious Diseases suggest that up to 30-50% of COVID patients continue to experience fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, and/or other lingering symptoms.

A recent report in Nature also highlighted what they found to be lasting health burdens on people, societies, and economies.

The health economists estimated that up to 30% of society’s health burden from COVID-19, across all age groups, is due to post-COVID disability. 

Every age group and every part of the county has been impacted by this pandemic, and it will take quite some time to fully recover. But there is reason to be hopeful.

Case counts are on the decline again. The number of outbreaks, hospitalizations, and deaths are slowing. Snohomish County is on a rebound, thanks in large part to the growing number of people getting vaccinated. 

It’s been six months into the vaccination efforts and more than half of those 12 and older in the county are fully vaccinated. These individuals are able to get back to all of the activities they did prior to the pandemic, and without masks in most settings. 

More normalcy is coming in just over three weeks, with the state set to reopen June 30th.

Schools are wrapping up the academic year filled with remote and hybrid learning, but in-class learning will be back in the fall.

Vacations are being booked, summer pastimes are on the agenda again, and visits with friends and family are being planned. 

“Things will likely continue to look a little different for quite some time, but relief is on the horizon,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “

He went on to say, “In order to stay on this path to recovery—and avoid any possible detours—we all need to continue masking up until vaxed up.”

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