COVID cases on the rise in Snoqualmie Valley

There remains a disparity in vaccination rates across valley cities.

The number of COVID-19 cases has risen across the Snoqualmie Valley over the past two weeks, but death and hospitalizations remain low.

In its preliminary findings between July 21 and Aug. 6, the King County health department found that cases nearly doubled in all valley cities compared to the previous two weeks (between July 6 and July 20).

Despite the increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been almost nonexistent. Over both sets of weeks, valley cities had two COVID-related hospitalizations and one death.

“[Vaccinations] make a difference. We’re not seeing those deaths,” said Sherry Jennings, a spokesperson for the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital. “People who are vaccinated aren’t being hospitalized.”

The state Department of Health found that more than 94% of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalization between February and July 2021 were among those who were unvaccinated.

Jennings said the hospital has seen an increase in people coming in to get tested for COVID-19, likely due to an increase in travel. She also said the hospital has seen an increase in cases, but those cases have not correlated to hospitalizations.

Snoqualmie (zip code 98065) had the most cases over the last two-week period with 35 — an increase of 25 compared to the last two-week span.

North Bend (zip code 98045) had 23 cases between July 21 and Aug. 6, compared to 14 cases between July 6 and July 20. Carnation and Fall City (zip codes 98014 and 98024) both had five cases in the beginning weeks of July. Now, the two cities have 15 and 12 cases, respectively.

Jennings said vaccines remain the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Snoqualmie Valley Hospital employees will be required to receive the vaccine beginning Sept. 1.

Vaccines are still reported to be effective against the delta variant, which is more transmissible than other strains, according to the state Department of Health. According to an Aug. 4 report, the variant makes up 85% of state cases.

“The only way we get back to normal is if everyone gets vaccinated,” Jennings said.

However, there remains a disparity in vaccination rates across valley cities. The upper valley reported higher vaccination rates, with 80.1% of Snoqualmie residents and 73% of North Bend residents having been vaccinated, as of Aug. 5.

Vaccination rates are lower in Carnation and Fall City, at 69.3% and 66.6%, respectively. Both are below the 70% vaccination rate goal set by the county.

Jennings said the hospital has been out in the community trying to encourage unvaccinated residents to get inoculated.

“We’re doing all we can to get out there and we’ve seen a lot of people get off the fence. It’s been encouraging,” she said.

The county and hospital, working together, developed three groups of valley residents they are targeting to try and raise vaccination rates. The list includes Fall City and Carnation, teens age 12-18 in North Bend, and indigenous populations.

Teenagers in North Bend had the lowest vaccination rates of any age group, at 48.6%. This is well below the city average of 73% and is the lowest of any age group. All other age groups have rates of 65% or higher.

Jaime Martin, a spokesperson for the Snoqualmie Tribe, said they did not have much to report regarding a rise in COVID cases.

Over the last 14 days, the county has had 3,888 cases, 105 hospitalizations and three deaths, according to the county health department.

The Centers for Disease Control and county department of health are recommending everyone wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor spaces.

According to modeling projections from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, if universal mask coverage were achieved by July 26, it could have decreased the death count between July and November by 46,000 people. The model projects the U.S. is likely to experience an additional 62,000 COVID-19 related deaths between July 19 and Nov. 1, 2021.