As COVID-19 cases soar, worries rise about hospitalizations, deaths


Last updated 11/18/2020 at 8:51am

Courtesy of Snohomish Health District

New COVID-19 cases in Snohomish County are boosting local hospitalizations and raising worries about overwhelming the health care system, a virtual press conference was told Tuesday.

"The virus is a force of nature," Dr. Tom Tocher, Chief Medical Officer, Community Health Center of Snohomish County "It's like the rain or the wind. We can't stop it from being around, we can't protest it. It's going to spread, and we have to do everything we can to prevent that spread, to interrupt that spread."

COVID-19 cases have hit an all-time high and "We're increasing 50% per week. So when you hear the term exponential growth, that's what's occurring," said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer at the Snohomish Health District.

Spitters call the infection rate "explosive" and warned of its impacts on the local health system.

As of Tuesday, Snohomish County hospitals were treating 52 confirmed cases of COVID with three additional suspected. A total of 10 people from that pool were on mechanical ventilation in intensive care.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is roughly 2.5 times that of late October. "And if we don't turn this around beginning immediately, then that 50 will become 100 and then that's definitely where the hospital system is going to be in big trouble and that means we're all in big trouble, too," Spitters said.

Spitters joined County Executive Dave Somers and, in encouraging people to adhere to new restrictions put into effect this week by Gov. Jay Inslee to slow COVID transmission. Among other things, the governor has outlined steps to limit indoor contact between those who don't share a home. Data suggest those interactions are contributing most to the spread of new cases.

"We really shouldn't be confused about where we are," Executive Somers said. "We are on an icy road, going about 100 miles per hour. And we are tapping the breaks with the most recent actions by the governor to try to slow down. If that doesn't work, we're going to have to take even more serious action or face more serious consequences."

The demand for COVID tests has more than doubled at Community Health Center in recent weeks and the positivity rate has jumped from 4% to 8%, said Dr. Tocher.

The community is "at a critical point where we still have the opportunity to reduce or prevent an overwhelming surge of demand on our hospitals, which are already under stress," Spitters said.

Watch the Snohomish County briefing:

Or read the transcript and view the slides from Dr. Spitters:


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