Relative isolation may be limiting spread of virus

Essentially, it’s waters that surround Whidbey Island that protect it from the surge of COVID-19 that spread across the state and the nation this summer.

Island County Public Health Director Keith Higman opined that the relative geographic isolation of the island, as well as residents’ compliance with state mandates, has resulted in the limited increase in positive cases of the virus.

The county has had 217 positive coronavirus tests, which is an increase of four since Friday. The number of deaths remain at 11, according to Public Health.

“That’s sort of the pace we’re seeing, ” Higman said. “We have a couple a day.”

Other counties, including those nearby, have seen a much steeper increase. Franklin County, which has a population of only about 10,000 larger than Island County, has had 2,753 cases.

“I’m pretty proud of the numbers we have even though we’re seeing the cases increase slightly,” Higman said.

Most of the new cases in the county, he explained, are from people either traveling outside the county or hosting people from outside the county. The message he hopes to pass on to residents is that they should limit their travel to only what is essential.

The county is currently in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, but the sudden spike in cases across the state and nation has caused health officials to reemphasize the importance of such measures as wearing a face mask, limiting contact with others and staying home.

The increase in cases in the state and county are not the result of more testing, Higman said, pointing to a new report by the Institute of Disease Modeling. The report states that the authors have “complete confidence” that the epidemic grew in both eastern and western Washington in June.

Like in the rest of the state, cases in Island County increased fastest among people in their 20s.

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