The Washington State Department of Health this week released new guidelines for an upcoming phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution that will target vulnerable individuals and older adults.

According to a news release from Whitman County Public Health, phase 1B will seek to prevent severe cases and hospitalizations through inoculating people older than the age of 70 and those older than 50 who live in a multigenerational household. The news release said it is important to note that Whitman County remains in phase 1A of vaccine distribution.

The release said more than 1,050 people have been vaccinated in phase 1A, which includes health care providers, hospital staff, emergency workers and other professionals on the front lines of the pandemic. About 500 more are expected to be inoculated this week.

On Monday, Whitman County announced a change in the way it tabulates COVID-19 data relevant to the region — including that it will no longer release updates regarding the number of current hospitalizations.

“Whitman County will now be reporting the number of deaths and hospitalizations according to the Washington State Department of Health, rather than local tracking methods used previously,” a release said. “Using the state reported information is a clearer picture of the actual data because it will also reflect Whitman County residents that have been hospitalized or died outside of the county.”

With these new data included, the county said 33 Whitman County residents have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic — some of which were previously unreported.

The county reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend and Monday, pushing the its total to 2,939.

New cases included four women and two men under the age of 19, 10 women and eight men between 20 and 39, four men and four women between 40 and 59, two men and two women between 60 and 79 and one woman older than 80.

Latah County reported 31 new cases of the disease over the weekend and Monday, which brings its total to 2,284. New cases include 10 men and 13 women between the ages of 18 and 29, three men in their 30s, two men and two women in their 40s and a man in his 60s. In Latah County, 1,969 people have recovered from COVID-19 and six have died since the pandemic began.

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