Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek said in a letter to the community posted Tuesday, Sept. 15, that she is looking to see what comes of COVID-19 transmission rates in the weeks after Labor Day weekend to make a decision on giving an OK to reopen schools in the county, possibly by this fall.

“I am watching the numbers from the Labor Day weekend as we saw a significant rise in transmission rates after the Fourth of July weekend,” she wrote in response to a question about reopening schools. “I am hoping this won’t be the case but am waiting for a full incubation period, 14 days, to see what our trajectory is going into fall.”

Abdelmalek added that she wants to make sure the timing is right and that the community is ready to move forward when they make the decision to recommend in-person instruction. She said she will dedicate next week’s letter to the topic of reopening schools in Thurston County.

This comes after Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department earlier this month began allowing public schools to gradually return to in-person instruction. As of Tuesday, Pierce County had reported an average 35.2 cases over the last 14 days.

The number of new cases reported in Thurston County is also falling, with the county reporting an average of 6.5 new cases daily over the last 14 days. There have been three COVID-19-related hospitalizations over the last seven days and the most recent death was reported almost two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services reported two new cases of COVID-19; one was in a male between the ages of 10 and 19 and another was in a male in his 30s.

The total number of cases reported in Thurston County since the start of the pandemic stands at 1,097.

Superintendents in all eight public districts in Thurston County back in July agreed unanimously to not open up buildings due to increased transmission rates of the virus locally. Since then, spread of the virus has simmered down both locally and statewide, though health professionals have remained anxious about another potential wave of infections later this year.

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