“We may be done with COVID, but it’s clearly not done with us,” said Reed Price, executive director of the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center (BISCC), who recently made some significant changes to BISCC’s “participation policies” in light of rising numbers.
According to the Kitsap Sun, Kitsap County’s COVID-19 case rate has more than doubled in the last two weeks, as the omicron virus variant arrived in earnest. The Kitsap Public Health District attributed the jump to omicron, reporting that the seven-day case rate per 100,000 residents has spiked from 112 on Dec. 18 to 249 on Dec. 24. That number, the health district said, is expected to continue to climb. Data reporting is delayed by five days to improve accuracy, so a fuller picture of how the virus might have spread over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday will appear in the coming days, the newspaper noted.
As for the Senior Center, “we are going to take a break from in-person activities, at least for the week of Jan. 3 through Jan. 7,” Price said, of one of the island’s most vulnerable populations. “We’ll assess this on a week-by-week basis,” he added.
When BISCC resumes its in person activities, it will require proof of a booster shot in addition to requiring proof of a COVID vaccine to participate in in-person activities, Price stressed.
For further context on the omicron variant, we direct you to a conversation several days back during the BISCC’s “Something To Talk About” Zoom session, featuring Loren Bast, executive director of Bainbridge Prepares, and Dr. David Cowen, the lead of BP’s Medical Reserve Corps and physician at Virginia Mason Winslow Clinic. They explain what’s known about COVID’s Omicron variant.
While some officials are predicting that as much as 40% of the world’s population will be infected with the omicron variant of COVID, there are also indications that omicron may not be as deadly as earlier variants.
Regardless, authorities stress that vaccines—and mRNA-type vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna particularly—continue to be the best protection against serious illness or death.
Kitsap Public Health District Health Officer Dr. Gib Morrow reinforced this, noting in a recent statement, “Getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to protect your health and stay out of the hospital. If you are already vaccinated, get a booster shot as soon as you can.”
The omicron spike came as the first known case were detected in Kitsap just prior to Christmas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that for the week ending Dec. 25, omicron accounted for nearly 60% of cases nationwide.
The health district reported a “significant” number of recent cases in Kitsap connected to clusters within organizations and about 30 outbreaks in the wider community, including outbreaks linked to high school basketball and wrestling teams. It’s not known how many omicron cases have been reported on Bainbridge Island.
“I know we are all tired of COVID, but this new surge in cases cannot be ignored,” Morrow told the Kitsap Sun. “We need to recommit to taking basic steps to prevent the spread of the virus for the sake of our families, our schools, our hospitals, our businesses, and ourselves.”
The health district had scaled back to weekly COVID-19 data reporting two weeks ago, but said last week that it would bring back daily data updates to its online dashboard for the month of January in response to the spike in cases and “what is predicted to be a sustained wave of omicron activity.”
If you need to get tested for COVID-19 in Kitsap County, you can find a provider on a list the health district keeps updated on its website: kitsappublichealth.org.