LONGVIEW, Washington — Rapidly rising COVID-19 cases in Cowlitz County are prompting health officials to urge residents to get vaccinated if they have not already and to wear face coverings in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, to curb the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or who has been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 should get tested whether or not they are vaccinated or have previously been infected. COVID-19 testing is needed to identify, treat, and isolate those who are infected. Several healthcare partners are providing tests locally:
• Walgreens; 2939 Ocean Beach HWY, Longview WA 98632
• Pacific Urgent Care; 900 Ocean Beach HWY #110 Longview WA 98632
• Rite Aid; 364 Triangle Shopping Center, Longview WA 98632
+ To find more testing locations, visit: https://bit.ly/3jysM9A
Hospitals and emergency rooms across the state are facing challenges with adequate capacity. Do not go directly to a hospital for a COVID-19 test unless it is an emergency.
COVID-19 cases in Cowlitz County began to steadily increase in early July, with the average number of cases reported each day rising from 7 for the week of July 4-10 to 36 for the week of July 22-28. The county now has the fourth highest case rate in the state. This week alone, August 2-6, more than 400 cases were reported.
Low vaccination rates and more contagious variants are contributing to the rise in cases, which are largely occurring in unvaccinated people.
Of Cowlitz County’s total population, 44.2% is fully vaccinated and 48.2% has received at least one dose. Three variants of concern identified by the CDC have been found in Cowlitz County cases, including the delta variant, which is more contagious than previous COVID-19 strains and may cause more than twice as many infections.
Recent data show vaccine coverage in Cowlitz County is highest among residents age 65+ (69% completed vaccination) and lowest among residents age 12-17 (21% completed vaccination). Vaccine coverage is highest in Castle Rock (61% completed vaccination) and lowest in SE rural Cowlitz County (30% completed vaccination).
“We are in the midst of another significant wave of COVID-19 cases in Cowlitz County. In order to protect yourself and your family, and to stop the spread of this deadly disease in the community, please get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Steven Krager, deputy health officer for Cowlitz County. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at protecting against the variants and preventing hospitalization, severe disease, and death.”
Due to the high level of virus activity in Cowlitz County, health officials are recommending that everyone, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated, wear face coverings in public indoor settings to maximize protection against the delta variant. Face coverings continue to be required for unvaccinated people in public indoor settings.
While uncommon, some vaccinated people can get the delta variant in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious. Infections in fully vaccinated people tend to be mild. The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness that can lead to hospitalization and death — even among those infected with the delta variant.
In response to rising virus activity, Cowlitz County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) will prioritize interviewing people who test positive for COVID-19 to identify potential exposures at priority locations, such as long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, schools, food processing facilities, and other businesses at risk for significant outbreaks. CCHHS has paused identifying, notifying, and monitoring close contacts of confirmed cases.
For more COVID-19 guidance and resources, visit: https://bit.ly/3rVgZGl. To find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you, see: https://bit.ly/3jvo4cM.
(360) 414-5599, ext. 6451
|Release #: 21-028|