A jump in the number of new COVID-19 cases earlier this month was likely due to events and social gatherings over Labor Day weekend, according to Island County Public Health.
Case rates had been declining in recent weeks, after a spike in mid-August as unvaccinated people were contracting the fast-spreading delta variant.
The 14-day case rate, which is what the state looks at, declined in Island County from 335 per 100,000 people during Aug. 13-26 to 198 per 100,000 Aug. 27-Sept. 9.
Then the cases increased again, with 173 new cases during a seven-day period. The 14-day case rate for Sept. 2-15 was 281 per 100,000 people.
An additional person died from COVID last week, bringing the total to 37 in the county.
The latest COVID briefing memo from Don Mason, COVID response manager for the county, indicates that the upward trend in cases may not be over.
“We believe this increase in cases over last week is associated with several community factors, but likely represents the leading edge of a 2-week case increase associated with social gatherings around the 3-day Labor Day weekend,” he wrote. “We will likely see another increase in the data next week due to this.”
The Oak Harbor Music Festival was the biggest event to take place that weekend. Hundreds of people attended the crowded event downtown and many, if not most, did not wear masks.
Gov. Jay Inslee did not issue a mandate requiring masks at outdoor events with more than 500 people, regardless of vaccination status, until a week after Labor Day.
Outdoor events are considered to be a much lower risk of COVID transmissions, but hundreds of people have been infected at “super-spreader” events across the state, according to Washington State Department of Health.
The good news, according to health officials, is that the vaccination rate has been increasing. The county reported that at least 583 county residents got their first dose and 660 people became fully vaccinated in a week.
The county reports that 67% of the eligible population has received at least one dose.