Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek on Tuesday said she has not seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases following Labor Day weekend gatherings, which was a fear after a spike following July 4th.

Abdelmalek said she plans on addressing the safety around possibly reopening schools to in-person instruction soon.

“We’re continuing to look at what our likely COVID-19 trajectory is going into fall, and are reviewing the safety of recommending opening schools for some in person learning, and anticipate making a statement in the next few days,” Abdelmalek said in a Thurston Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

In a letter to the community published about a week ago, Abdelmalek said the case trajectory going into the early part of fall would be a major factor in whether or not they would consider recommending students begin going back to school.

Since the start of the school year, public districts have largely been teaching students by way of online video instruction and distanced learning measures. This was due to a recommendation Abdelmalek gave over the summer to superintendents to keep schools closed. Weekly case loads at the time were more than twice what’s been reported in the last couple of weeks.

Cases of COVID-19 have seen a noticeable decrease in recent weeks. The county has recorded an average of six new cases a day over the last two weeks. The county has reported a total 30.8 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, with the goal being 24 per 100,000.

“That was a requirement for us to advance into Phase 3,” Public Health Director Schelli Slaughter said. “That’s where we were at right before going into Phase 3. Since that time, that’s been our target. We’ve exceeded that case rate and we’ve been trying to get back down. I mentioned that today because that’s a significant benchmark and it’s good news that we’re getting closer to meeting that target again.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Public Health has reported a total 1,143 cases and 17 deaths, with two of those reported in the last seven days.

On Tuesday, the county reported three new cases of the virus. One of the individuals were in their 40s, one was in their 50s and one was in their 90s.

Public Health and Social Services on Tuesday also published its weekly COVID-19 situation report. This week, the Yelm ZIP code reported 5 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 117.

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