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Skagit County COVID testing site
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‘We’re in trouble’: Skagit County sees ‘alarming’ rise in new COVID cases

A Skagit County COVID testing site. (Skagit County Health Department, Facebook)

With COVID-19 cases beginning to rise across Washington, Skagit County health officials have mounting concerns over a growing outbreak of their own.

Gov. Inslee: Outbreak at the UW ‘too deadly to ignore’

“We’re in trouble,” Skagit Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand said in a Thursday news release addressed to the county’s residents. “COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate, and we need your help to reverse the trend and keep us out of major trouble.”

The county is reporting a “dramatically” rising rate of new cases, with 27 and “many more probable cases in the last few days alone.” At the current rate, the county could soon be up over 75 cases per two weeks per 100,000 residents. That would put it firmly back in the “high risk” category. Skagit has been in Phase 2 of the reopening process since June, but on its current path could see that rolled back.

If this trend continues, the county could risk being unable to return students to in-person class. In recent weeks, Skagit County has been able to begin part-time in-person instruction.

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Local health officials are urging residents to continue wearing masks in public at all times, limiting large gatherings, and providing information to contact tracers when prompted.

This is in line with an increase in new cases statewide, as more people spend time indoors in the colder fall and winter months.

Despite that, Gov. Jay Inslee relaxed a handful of restrictions Tuesday, allowing restaurants to expand table capacity and serve alcohol until 11 p.m., and letting movie theaters open up at limited capacity for counties in Phase 2 and Phase 3. That decision was largely driven by positive gains in businesses complying with COVID guidelines laid out by the state.

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