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Chelan, Douglas counties about 7,000 vaccinations away from 70% goal

WENATCHEE — COVID-19 case rates have plateaued a bit in Chelan and Douglas counties while vaccinations continue to tick upwards, about 7,000 vaccinations away from the 70% goal.

The incidence rate in Chelan County has remained in the 80 new cases per 100,000 people range throughout early June, according to data from the Chelan-Douglas Health District. As of June 6, there have been 82.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days.

Chelan County’s rate is down from 128 cases per 100,000 about a month ago, according to data from the state Department of Health.

Douglas County has a slightly higher incidence rate with 96 new cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days as of June 6, according to data from the health district. In early April, its COVID-19 case rate was 137.1 per 100,000, according to the Department of Health.

The state plans on fully reopening the economy on June 30 regardless of the incidence rate. But if the hospital ICU capacity statewide ever reaches 90%, then activities will begin to get restricted, according to the “Healthy Washington” reopening plan.

As of June 7, state ICU capacity was at 81%, according to data from the Department of Health.

Seven people were hospitalized at Central Washington Hospital due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, with one patient in the intensive care unit. On June 2, 14 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 with two of them in the ICU.

Around 97% of new COVID-19 hospitalizations at CWH in the last couple months were people who had not been vaccinated, according to Confluence Health spokesman Andrew Canning.

If ICU capacity remains below 90%, the state could fully reopen before June 30 if 70% of the population 16 and older would get the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

With 3.9 million initiated vaccinations already administered statewide, another 389,282 would be necessary to reach 70% as of June 5, according to data from the Department of Health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts 4.2 million people age 18 and older in the state as having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the state.

The state Department of Health acknowledged the discrepancy between the two databases in a statement on Monday. The department of health said the differences are due to:

  • Some Washington residents get vaccinated out of state and their records are not submitted into the state’s immunization system.
  • DOH uses 2020 p
  • opulation estimates that are larger and more accurate while the federal government uses 2019 census data.
  • The federal government gets data from the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and other sources of vaccines that were allocated by the federal government that do not get shared with DOH.
  • The state dashboard reports initiated vaccinations for people 16 and older while the state counts for people 18 and older.

In Chelan and Douglas counties, about 63% of people 16 and older have been vaccinated as of June 5, leaving about 7,000 more people to get their first shots to reach the 70% threshold, according to data from the Department of Health.

Photo: Will the storms pass for the weekend?

Scam calls see slow increase in Chelan County, continue to target elderly community

WENATCHEE — Wenatchee Valley residents may be noticing a few more unwanted calls than usual after a recent rise in local phone scams. These calls continue to be an issue for those who are targeted, including older adults.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office documented a small increase in reported scam calls over the past four months. The office recorded 27 reports of calls between April and June 3 in comparison to 17 calls between Feb. and April 3.

Money given away over the phone is extremely hard to track and it is a favorite tactic by scammers, said Cpl. Lee Risdon with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

Best practices to avoid phone scammers include not picking up for unknown phone numbers and opting to let callers leave a message, he said. Legitimate companies are not going to call and ask for personal info to be wirelessly sent.

Scams are largely targeted toward older adults, he said. Risdon advised families to chat with elderly members of their family to warn them of potential scammers.

One Waterville resident had a worrisome run-in when she noticed her husband was falling victim over the phone to a scammer on June 2.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said she at first panicked. The couple quickly canceled their credit card and then reported the incident to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m in my late 70s and … if they hit my bank account I’m destroyed,” she said. The scammer left messages at their home in Waterville falsely claiming they were from Publishers Clearing House and were giving away money.

The resident said she wanted to let community members know about the scam because she did not want others to be tricked by similar scammers.

“I hate to have people hurt,” she said.

There are a variety of different types of phone scams residents have reported in the Valley. A scam caller earlier this spring falsely claimed they were with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

Risdon said law enforcement agencies will not be asking for one’s birth date because they will already have that sort of information. The same goes for banks — they should not be asking for bank account numbers.

Douglas County Undersheriff Tyler Caille agreed the biggest safety tip is to not release personal information to anyone unknown over the phone. Caille said the Sheriff’s Office has not seen a major rise in scam calls across Douglas County, but that it is still an ongoing issue for the area.

Residents can report scam calls to RiverCom Dispatch at (509) 663-9911.

Apple Blossom’s youth and grand parades to be combined

WENATCHEE — After a one-year hiatus, the chairs are coming back. And so is the parade. Orondo Avenue’s annual migration of portable seating will be followed Saturday by a parade lineup 95 entrees strong.

A pretty big turnout is expected at the Stemilt and Keyes Fibre Community Parade, said Darci Christoferson, Apple Blossom administrator. “I’m just excited it’s all happening.”

“The chairs are back and they never left,” she said. “The only time they left is when we didn’t have a festival.”

Last year’s Apple Blossom parade, which drew 120 entries, was one of many canceled events due to COVID-19.

This year’s parade combines the youth and grand parade entrees into one event, she said. There will be smaller group sizes headed down Orondo, fewer bands due to school being out and no running events at the parade.

But there will be floats and entries from across the valley rolling down the Avenue. The parade will start at 11 a.m. at Triangle Park, go down Orondo, take a left on Wenatchee Avenue and end at Seventh Street.

Christoferson said she was shocked at the turnout for Apple Blossom events last weekend and is expecting “big crowds for sure” on Saturday.

“We definitely feel the love from everyone by having this festival,” she said. “We get a little bit of normalcy back and I think everybody’s just so excited about that.”

Apple Blossom royalty and dignitaries from 2020 will start the parade, followed by this year’s royalty, she said.

Those looking to grab a seat for the parade should keep in mind that event organizers will not be allowing seating along Memorial Park on Orondo due to food vendor lines.

Pre-parade and bleacher seating tickets can be purchased for $5 at appleblossom.org or at the door.

Planes, trucks, buses, automobiles and more | Wenatchee Valley projects highlighted at next week’s state Transportation Commission meeting

OLYMPIA — Wenatchee Valley transportation projects take center stage next week at the Washington State Transportation Commission meeting.

Community leaders and local officials will talk about everything from Wenatchee’s “Complete Streets” program and Northern Fruit’s plans to electrify its truck fleet to the continued quest to complete the Apple Capital Recreation Loop project.

The virtual two-day meeting, broadcast live at tvw.org, runs 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday. It will be conducted using Zoom. Those interested in participating can register at wwrld.us/WSTC.

Tuesday’s agenda

  • A briefing from the Chelan-Douglas Regional Transportation Council about the region’s varying urban and rural transportation needs as the only region of the state that lacks an interstate highway.
  • Reports from city and county officials on ongoing transportation improvement efforts. One of those is Wenatchee’s “Complete Streets” program, which removes transportation barriers and promotes equity by providing pedestrian, bicycle, transit and motor vehicle access.
  • County economic development leaders will discuss how air, highway and rail systems impact economic development and tourism.

On Wednesday

  • Douglas County PUD will share details of its renewable hydrogen production facility pilot project and Northern Fruit will talk about the planned electrification of its truck fleet.
  • Link Transit will talk about its fixed route bus services and special needs transportation programs that are being explored that would cut costs while increasing access.
  • A multijurisdictional panel will provide information on the proposed Apple Capital Loop project, which includes construction of Confluence Parkway running parallel to North Wenatchee Avenue, and a second bridge across the Wenatchee River to Olds Station.

Questions or comments from the public can be submitted during the virtual meeting, which will be addressed if time permits. Written comments can also be submitted via email until 4 p.m. the day before the meeting. Send comments to transc@wstc.wa.gov.

The state Transportation Commission is a seven-member board appointed by the governor. It provides an open public forum for transportation policy development, conducts special projects as directed by the Legislature and issues the state’s 20-year Transportation Plan.

The commission also is holding a special meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, to propose new ferry fares and to discuss toll rate increases on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the State Route 99 tunnel and the Highway 520 bridge. Presentations will be available on the commission’s website.

For information about the commission and complete meeting agendas, go to wstc.wa.gov/.