If you’ve been wondering why Skagit County’s case rates are so high and aren’t declining like some other counties in the state, you’re not alone! We’ve gotten many questions recently about why Skagit seems to be so different compared to our neighboring counties. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple—there are several factors at play. Here are some things to consider:
1. Skagit County’s population is different! We are more rural and agricultural than our neighbors to the north and south. Many of our residents do not work from home, meaning that folks are out in the community more. We also have many large households here in Skagit, which allows for more household transmissions.
2. Our vaccination rates are still behind our neighbors—especially King county. Populations with a higher percentage of fully vaccinated residents will see lower case rates. Until we have a higher vaccination percentage, COVID-19 will continue to spread.
3. Many of our residents are still not taking proper precautions. Masking and limiting gatherings can help to keep disease transmission lower. We are currently seeing the results of Halloween weekend, with a greater number of new cases over the past week or so.
Thankfully, it isn’t all bad. There are some good things at play too when considering our case numbers.
1. Skagit County residents continue to take testing seriously! Folks are great at getting tested when not feeling well or when potentially exposed to the virus. We know this by looking at our positivity rates at the Fairgrounds testing site. Since we reopened in August, we’re averaging about 11-12% percent positivity—this means that slightly more than 1 in every 10 people who come to the fairgrounds on a given day are testing positive.
2. Expanding on this—Skagit County has low-barrier testing options that many of our neighboring counties do not! This means that more people can access a test when they need it.
3. Public Health, when conducting case investigation, recommends that positive cases have other members in their households tested. Since we know that COVID-19 can spread easily within one’s home, there is a good likelihood that other members of the home will also test positive.
4. Our partners—schools, employers, long-term care facilities—are really great at doing what they need to do, including following testing guidance from Public Health and the Washington Department of Health.
Lastly, it is important to note that while our case rates are high right now for us, Skagit never saw the incredible spikes in cases that many of our comparable counties saw earlier this year. Yes, our numbers are high, but our trends have always been much smoother than counties in Eastern Washington, for example.