Two more Whitman County residents died from COVID-19 since Friday.
Whitman County Public Health on Tuesday reported the two deaths and 12 new positive COVID-19 tests during the past holiday weekend. There have been 41 COVID-19-related deaths, to date, in the county. There were no new hospitalizations since Friday.
There have been 3,259 total cases in the county thus far. The newest patients include two people younger than 20, nine people between ages 20-39 and one person between ages 60-79.
Washington state remains in Phase 1B tier 1 of its vaccine allocation plan. This phase allows for vaccines to be administered to health care workers, residents 65 years and older and residents 50 years and older in a multigenerational household.
However, Public Health Director Chris Skidmore told the Whitman County commissioners Tuesday that the county is ready to move on from Phase 1B tier 1.
“It looks like we’re going to be the first county to move completely through 1B1 in the state of Washington,” Skidmore said. “And the state called this morning and it’s looking like some other counties are starting to approach where we’re at and they’re having the same concerns that we had with not being able to move into those next 1B2 tiers.”
Phase 1B tier 2 allows vaccinations for workers in child care settings and K-12 educators and staff during in-person schooling or child care. It also includes specific high-risk essential workers groups age 50 and older who work in certain congregate settings.
Skidmore’s staff was asked last week by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office to carry out the county’s plan to vaccinate school teachers and staff.
Inslee’s office warned Skidmore’s staff that doing so would jeopardize vaccine allocations from the state.
Whitman County has found itself in this situation largely because it has been so efficient in getting eligible people vaccinated.
Skidmore informed the Daily News this past weekend that the county is outpacing the rest of the state in this regard thanks to “extensive partnerships and collaborations that were developed early on in the pandemic and continue today.”
Whitman County Commissioner Tom Handy said Monday that hundreds of people attended vaccine clinics held at Pullman Regional Hospital and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories this past weekend.
“We could do a lot more at those clinics than we did,” Handy said. “Literally ran out of vaccines before we ran out of capacity.”
There were 15 confirmed or probable cases reported in Latah County since Friday. There have been 2,482 confirmed and 140 probable cases, to date.
The latest cases include two people younger than the age of 5, one person between ages 5-12, three people between ages 13-17, four people between ages 18-29, three people in their 30s, one in their 40s and one in their 60s.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.