COVID-19 deaths, outbreaks have mounted as delta wave crashes on Kitsap – Kitsap Sun

It’s a grim pandemic trend that’s played out again in Kitsap: as COVID-19 cases have mounted, so too have hospitalizations and then deaths.

The delta variant wave that’s crashed particularly hard on the unvaccinated has brought a sharp uptick in COVID-19-associated deaths. In August, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations jumped, Kitsap recorded 27 deaths, the deadliest month of the pandemic since the January peak. And through the first weeks of September, another 21 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded.

The “vast majority” of deaths and hospitalizations that the Kitsap Public Health District has seen are among those who are unvaccinated against the virus, said Dr. Gib Morrow, health officer for the county.

“At the end of the day each and every one of these points on the graph or the numbers that we talk about, it’s so crucial to remember that they are human lives and there’s a lot of collateral damage that goes along with that,” he said.


Along with the surge has come a corresponding bump in virus outbreaks. The health district has reported 32 active outbreaks during the week ending Sept. 11, and a handful of active outbreaks at long-term care facilities throughout Kitsap as of Thursday, including at Bremerton Health and Rehab, The Arbor in Bremerton, Orchard Pointe Memory Care in Port Orchard, Ashley Gardens Memory Care in Bremerton, the Madrona House on Bainbridge Island, Liberty Shores in Poulsbo and at the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard.

“The pattern in those situations is that an unvaccinated, typically a staff or a worker or somebody who maybe visits, come in and infect a coworker, and then it will kick off like wildfire, and we are definitely seeing breakthrough cases in those settings,” Morrow said. “That’s one of the reasons I think (booster vaccination shots) are appropriate for those over 65. But by and large, people aren’t getting that sick when they get infected post-vaccination. They have some mild symptoms, or they test positive, but they’re not getting hospitalized or passing away to the extent that we were seeing back in January.”

From April: A little more than a year after COVID-19 hit, Kitsap reaches 100 virus deaths

Hal Bringman, of Bainbridge Island, had been visiting his 83-year-old mother who has dementia at Orchard Pointe Memory Care, and now has pieced together that he had been in the midst of an outbreak that had spread throughout the facility. His mother tested positive, and he became sick too, though he wasn’t able to confirm that he contracted the virus, he said.

The health district has reported 42 COVID-19 cases in connection with the outbreak at the facility.

“When you’re going through dementia, you have essentially lost a love one, but you’re losing them in slow motion and then in all this insanity on top of it, it’s a lot of stress,” Bringman said, referring to the pandemic generally. “It doesn’t feel particularly well managed and it doesn’t feel like we’re going in the right direction. Who knows how many other variants are going to come out?”

The Kitsap County Jail also navigated another virus outbreak this month, its second active outbreak and the third since the pandemic began. The health district has reported 33 cases connected with the newest outbreak.

Sgt. Ken Dickinson, a spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, said that case numbers had gotten so high that jail staff felt they had to take “drastic action” and on Sept. 7 began limiting those booked into the jail to those accused of more serious crimes. Inmates who tested positive have been isolated and are tested every other day, he said. Staff and inmates wear N95 masks.

Dickinson said Thursday that the jail was down to five positive cases and expected “as long as we stay status quo,” the facility would be down to two cases on Friday.

“I think our folks did a good job recognizing and containing it the best way they could in a relatively short order to where we’re down to just two people (Friday),” he said. “That’s because they had these protocols in place and followed them rigidly and were able to adapt and adjust when they needed to do even more.”

Morrow, Kitsap’s health officer, said that asymptomatic transmission was a “large” factor in the outbreak. The health district recommended aggressive testing and contact tracing and asked that jail staff be tested frequently, he said, noting, “Ideally we would like to get all corrections staff fully vaccinated.”

A declining wave?

Might Kitsap’s delta wave be subsiding? Morrow noted a decline in the numbers of new cases being reported and said that there are signs that “things are maybe plateauing a little bit.”

Still though, he said, “I think there’s still a lot of circulating transmission right now, and we’re aware of a lot of cases that are occurring amongst really all age groups.”

Nathan Pilling is a reporter covering Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.

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