Spring surge of COVID continues on Vashon

So far, the spring surge it isn’t as serious as Vashon’s January COVID surge, but it’s cause for concern and caution.

Editor’s Note: Read COVID updates by VashonBePrepared in Spanish and English at tinyurl.com/yan39zeh.

A rising trend of Vashon COVID cases, new Vashon hospitalizations, and a worsening King County COVID safety metric make it clear: a spring surge of COVID infections has come to Vashon. So far, it isn’t as serious as Vashon’s January COVID surge, but it’s cause for concern and caution.

Daily new COVID case counts on Vashon have gone from near zero in early March to an average of more than six new cases reported to MRC per day. Three more hospitalizations occurred in the past two weeks, bringing the Vashon pandemic total to fifteen. These are the first Vashon hospitalizations since February.

King County’s CDC community transmission risk rating moved even further into the yellow/medium risk range, now almost 260 cases per week per 100,000 population.

The Vashon daily count of new cases is estimated to be twice as high as the number reported in the official dashboard count published by Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) — a result of easy access to free home tests and enhanced reporting by the Vashon community to Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). The MRC count is compiled from multiple sources, including reporting by community members. You can help Vashon MRC continue to monitor COVID levels on the island by calling the helpline if you have a positive test: (844) 469-4554.

The rising case counts on Vashon translate to a greatly increased risk of transmission within our community. So, now is a good time to get a second booster and make sure you have home tests on hand for use if you have any symptoms that could be COVID. Booster shots are in high demand so it’s important to get on the schedule at a provider. Vashon Pharmacy, Vashon Natural Medicine, and Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge give boosters. If they are booked up, there are many resources on the mainland, including the major pharmacy chains and healthcare provider networks.

Positive Test: Free COVID Antiviral Treatment

If you test positive for COVID and are at risk for severe disease (are unvaccinated, over age 65, or immunocompromised) you should talk to your healthcare provider about getting treatment. You can receive one of the several COVID treatments at no charge on the advice of your doctor. Available treatments shorten the length of your COVID illness and reduce your chance of hospitalization or death by 90%.

Vashon Pharmacy has been very proactive about acquiring courses of oral treatments, but supply is likely to remain somewhat limited until the current wave of COVID infections subsides.

Your physician will help you decide between the two antiviral pills and two intravenous treatments available.

Paxlovid (the oral drug most effective against the Omicron variant) must be started within five days of the onset of COVID symptoms, so if you are at risk it’s essential to act quickly. Don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen. Test immediately and more than once if you develop symptoms. Then call your healthcare provider right away if you test positive and are at increased risk.

If you don’t have a healthcare provider, call the MRC helpline for advice. MRC volunteers may be able to provide a referral to a physician who can write a prescription, although they do not write prescriptions themselves.

Quarantine or Isolation Calculator

There’s no substitute for calling your doctor’s office to get the best advice for your situation. But, if you want to get some quick advice on what to do, the CDC has developed an easy-to-use calculator: bit.ly/COVIDactionTool

The tool walks you through some basic questions and very quickly provides you with a list of action steps to take if you have been exposed to someone with COVID or you test positive.

Is It Hay Fever or COVID?

This new surge of COVID comes at a confusing time. It’s spring. So, if you have a runny nose, is it a seasonal allergy, or do you have COVID? The symptoms overlap a bit (see graphic at the top left of this page.)

Know the difference between hay fever symptoms and COVID symptoms. The two afflictions share some symptoms, but hay fever generally does not cause fever and chills, body aches, loss of taste or smell, or intestinal problems such as nausea or diarrhea.

The best way to determine whether you are experiencing hay fever symptoms or have a COVID infection is to get a supply of free home tests, and use them without hesitation if you have symptoms. Within a few days, you can have 15 tests stocked up for your household and can test as often as needed. The federal government sends five tests to a household and you can reorder once. The state will send your household ten tests per month. Visit covid.gov/tests and sayyescovidhometest.org to order now.

It’s easy to shrug off symptoms and assume they are hay fever. However, one recent case investigation provided an important reminder. MRC doctors expressed relief that a family tested a daughter multiple times, even though she has seasonal allergies every year. She tested negative three times, but on the fourth test she tested positive and the family was able to work with MRC doctors to ensure she did not share her COVID infection with others in the community.

Latest Vashon COVID Statistics

Source: Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and Vashon EOC. PHSKC adjusts statistics from time to time as data is refined during its quality control processes. These statistics may not include all recent Vashon cases, due to the lag in posting of data to PHSKC. Home testing data may also be missing because there is no comprehensive system to collect it. Hospitalizations may include some patients who tested positive for COVID on admission for other reasons.

23 = New cases reported since the last weekly report (52 new cases in 14 days).

864 = Total COVID cases for Vashon residents since the pandemic began.

15 = Patients hospitalized since the pandemic began.

5 = Deaths since the pandemic began.

93.3% = percentage of Vashon residents age 5+ who have completed the primary series, compared to 85.7% of the King County 5+ population.

65.4% = percentage of Vashon residents age 5+ who have added a booster shot to their completed primary series.

For King County, the PHSKC dashboard for the last 30 days says people who are not fully vaccinated are 1.1 times more likely to get COVID, seven times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID and 11 times more likely to die of COVID.

For more resources, visit VashonBePrepared.org or visit the group’s Facebook page. Sign up at tinyurl.com/4smk364m to receive email updates.