A year and one day ago, the novel coronavirus came to the United States by way of Washington.
Since then, it has claimed the lives of more than 404,000 U.S. residents, including 4,065 Washington residents and 462 Spokane County residents.
The global pandemic continues to rage, and while there are two vaccines available for the virus, rollout continues to be sluggish in the United States.
State health officials are building capacity in Washington to get more people vaccinated when more doses arrive. For now, however, dose levels remain relatively level.
This week, Washington will receive 93,300 doses of vaccine for first shots and 142,625 second doses.
In order to meet the state goal of vaccinating 45,000 people each day, the state would need to receive 300,000 doses each week. For now, that level of supply is not realistic.
“We will see more doses when the federal government gives us more doses,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference Thursday. “I just can’t create vaccines out of thin air.”
The new Biden administration has signaled it will attempt to boost vaccine production using the Defense Production Act and other means at the government’s disposal.
Washington Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said state health officials are asking officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more transparency and advance notice of how many doses the state will be receiving.
“We do not yet have a timeline from federal government,” Shah told reporters Thursday. “We’re anticipating as they continue to transition this week into next week, we’ll have more information.”
So far, at least 52% off the vaccine doses that have arrived in the state have gotten into arms, excluding the long-term care program run by the federal government to vaccinate residents and staff at those facilities. This percentage is expected to increase in the coming weeks, as vaccine distributors must use 95% of their doses in the first week after receiving them before moving forward.
As of Thursday, all nursing facilities in the state enrolled in the federal program have received at least their first doses of vaccine, and by Sunday, all 2,400 long-term care facilities in the program should also have at least been visited once for their first dose, state health officials said.
Rollout of that program was slow when it began in mid-December, but on Thursday, Michele Roberts, assistant secretary of health leading the vaccine rollout, said that CVS and Walgreens are poised to finish their first round of vaccinations in facilities statewide by Sunday.
State health officials offered very few details on Thursday about the mass vaccination sites, one of which is coming to Spokane Arena as soon as next week.
Inslee said he’s very confident in the progress being made for mass vaccination sites, specifically Spokane Arena, although local stakeholders were not made aware before Monday of the state’s plans. Inslee said in normal times, there would’ve been a six-month discussion about it but they have to move quickly right now.
“There’s nothing that we have planned that anyone in Spokane is going to complain about, because we want to get people vaccinated in Spokane County.”
A look at local numbers:
The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 156 new cases of the virus and 11 additional deaths on Thursday.
Thus far in the pandemic, 462 Spokane County residents have died from the virus.
There are 106 people in Spokane hospitals being treated for COVID-19.
The Panhandle Health District confirmed 137 new cases of the virus and five additional deaths on Thursday. There have been 220 deaths from the virus in the five-county region.
Hospitalizations continue to decline in the Panhandle, where there are 58 residents hospitalized with the virus. Kootenai Health is taking care of 49 of those COVID-19 patients, with 21 requiring critical care.
S-R reporter Laurel Demkovich contributed to this story.
Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.
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