VANCOUVER, Wash. — This week, Clark County Public Health reported 28 new deaths due to COVID, the highest count yet in its regular weekly update. But this number needs context; it does not mean each death occurred in the past week.
Unlike the reporting of new cases and hospitalizations, reporting COVID deaths is a slower process.
“Physicians caring for the patients have to review the case, complete the death certificate, and that gets reported to the state department of health, so that can take a while,” explained Clark County Public Health director Dr. Alan Melnick.
So even though 28 COVID deaths were just announced Thursday, it's likely the deaths occurred 10-12 days or more before they were reported. This week, 90% of the deaths occurred Jan. 8 and Jan. 19. Two were from December and one was from back in August.
Altogether, the new count pushes Clark County's COVID death toll to 667.
Of the 28 people who died, 13 were in their 80s or older, five were their 70s, four were in their 60s, four were in the 50s, one man was in his 40s and one woman was in her 30s.
Melnick stressed the importance of taking the time to provide reliable information.
“Mortality information gives us one picture of the health of our country, our state and our community; it's important to know accurately what people are dying from.”
Melnick is watching other data too. For example, hospitalizations from COVID are currently at 118 in Clark County and capacity is at 97.7% of hospital beds and 96.4 % of ICU beds, currently with a slight downtick.
“Hospitalizations seem to be going down but, given where we're at, I’m concerned over the next couple of weeks about our hospital capacity and what's happening there,” said Melnick.
Clark County is showing exceptionally high COVID activity, measured in new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period.
This week, Clark County reported 2,549 cases per 100,000. Last week it was 2,206. The week before, it was 1,679 and on Dec. 23, it was at 263. Anything above 200 cases per 100,000 residents is considered “high” COVID activity.
The fast-spreading omicron variant is a primary concern for Melnick as the surge has not yet appeared to slow down in the county.