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Thurston County adds three deaths, 23 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

The Olympian logoThe Olympian 5/12/2021 Martín Bilbao, The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.)

May 11—Thurston County confirmed three new deaths due to COVID-19 and 23 additional cases on Tuesday.

A woman in her 40s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 60s have died, according to Thurston County Public Health and Social Services. With this announcement, the county has confirmed a total of 89 deaths.

So far, the county has reported 9,251 cases with 546 hospitalizations. In all, the county considers 8,389 of those cases as recovered or recovering. Meanwhile, the state has reported that the county has reached a case rate of 203.9 cases per 100,000 people over the two-week period from April 20 to May 3.

This latest case rate is about 2.6 times higher than the most recent low of 77 new cases per 100,000 over the two-week period from March 4-17, according to state data. If the county continues to see a case rate above 200, it may be in danger of backsliding into Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee's reopening plan.

Inslee paused the plan on May 4, citing evidence the so-called "fourth wave" of disease activity may be flattening, but all counties will be revaluated on May 18. State data from April 9-22 indicates the county's case rate has been fluctuating around 200 since then.

To stay in Phase 3, the county would also have to see fewer than 5 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population over a one-week period. The latest state data does not bode well for the county as it indicates a rate of 7.1 new hospitalizations per 100,000 between April 24-30.

Though the county has only reported 89 total deaths, PHSS director Schelli Slaughter said the county has reached 101 deaths, including six in the last week. Slaughter shared the data during a Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday and called the development a "grim milestone."

The data Slaughter shared aligns with the state's COVID-19 data dashboard. County spokesperson Magen Johnson said the county only announces a death when they can confirm the cause of death on a death certificate.

Johnson said she is unsure how the state counts deaths but added the county is in constant conversation with the state to reconcile the data.

During the same meeting, Slaughter said 89% of all hospital beds in the region, which includes neighboring counties, are occupied.

"Our regional hospital capacity continues to be very stressed and very high," Slaughter said.

About 12% of acute regular beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, including nine who are currently on ventilators, she said. Additionally, she said 18.9% of intensive care unit beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, the latest state data shows 8.6% of COVID-19 tests in Thurston County have returned positive results from April 17-23 — over four times the state Department of Health goal of fewer than 2%.

There are currently three on-going outbreaks at congregate care setting in Thurston County, according to county data, including one at an adult family home, one at a nursing home and one at a supported living facility. So far, the county has reported 55 such outbreaks.

In the region

— Pierce County confirmed 136 new COVID-19 cases and one new deaths on Tuesday, bringing its totals to 46,168 cases and 545 deaths.

— Grays Harbor County has reported 3,954 confirmed and probable cases and 64 deaths as of Tuesday.

— Lewis County Public Health & Social Services reported 3,757 confirmed cases and 60 deaths as of Tuesday.

— Mason County reported 10 new cases on Tuesday for a total of 2,075 cases with 31 deaths,

In the state, nation and world

The state Department of Health has now reported a total of 416,930 COVID-19 cases and 5,593 deaths as of Tuesday.

In the U.S., more than 32.7 million cases had been reported as of Tuesday with over 582,700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Globally, 159.3 million people had contracted the virus and more than 3.3 million had died as of Tuesday, the data show.

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