Infection rate

Infection rate by county July 26 to Aug. 9 per 100,000 people with data from the state Department of Health. 

NCW virus infection rate highest in state

{child_byline}By Tony Buhr{br}World staff writer{/child_byline}

NCW — COVID-19 infection rates in Douglas, Chelan and Okanogan counties are the highest in the state. Grant County has the sixth-highest rate.

The high rates will likely delay the reopening of in-person teaching at schools until they decline to 75 infections per 100,000 residents.

Rates in the four counties range from about 295 and 550 per 100,000 in the last two weeks, according to state Health Department data collected from July 26 to Aug. 9.

Schools districts are planning to do remote learning this fall, though some are ready to reopen classes once infection rates decline. But health officials reiterated in a news release this week that current infection rates in Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Grant and Kittitas counties are too high to allow teachers and students to return to the classroom.

Once the rate gets down to 75 people per 100,000 schools can consider hybridization of school learning, said Chelan-Douglas Health Officer Dr. Malcolm Butler. Hybridization is where schools offer both online and in-person education based on student’s needs.

“The big picture concept is that some students will not learn well outside the classroom,” Butler said. “These are the students at highest risk of educational failure if classrooms are closed.”

Schools and educators should also be considered essential businesses and essential workers, according to the news release. The status would provide teachers with access to personal protective equipment, funding for reorganizing classrooms, and other resources.

When schools do reopen, districts should monitor schools closely and be ready to close their doorsand revert to remote learning again again if outbreaks in the community or schools occur, according to guidance from health officers.

In schools, an outbreak is when two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are detected among staff and or students who:

  • Have had contact with more than one person and transmission is possible
  • Do not share a household
  • Were not in close contact with one another

In the case of an outbreak, schools should send students classrooms home to quarantine for 14 days if students are learning in groups or cohorts, according to the guidance.

But schools should be closed and teaching should go remote if:

  • Two or more classrooms are dismissed due to an outbreak
  • More than 10% of the classrooms are dismissed due to an outbreak
  • Schools can no longer function with current staffing levels

If schools aren’t grouping students together, they should evaluate to determine whether transmission is occurring and close the school when:

  • There is a rapid increase in cases
  • A prolonged chain of transmission occurs in the school
  • Schools can no longer function with current staffing levels

Schools should also check students for COVID-19 symptoms and follow recommendations for quarantining when students are ill, according to the guidance.

All students, volunteers and guests in schools must wear a cloth mask when indoors. Also school districts must collect information for the local health district including:

  • Total number of staff and students
  • Number of staff and students with a COVID-like illness
  • Positive cases of COVID-19
  • Outbreaks
  • School closures and why

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Tony Buhr: 664-7123

buhr@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @TonyBuhr