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Cowlitz County COVID-19 case rate decline slows, hospitalization rate increases

COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Clinic volunteer and retired PeaceHealth nurse Peggy Malone prepares syringes with the COVID-19 vaccine at the drive-thru vaccinations site at the Cowlitz County fairgrounds in Longview in March. 

The decline of Cowlitz County’s COVID-19 rates appears to be slowing, and the hospitalization rate increased in mid-November.

The county recorded about 308 new cases per 100,000 people from Nov. 2 to Nov. 15, down from 332 per 100,000 from Oct. 26 to Nov. 8. Cases had more steeply dropped off from mid-October to early-November.

Cowlitz County recorded 20 new confirmed cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 12,679 confirmed and 1,550 probable. Cowlitz County recorded two new deaths, with 256 total.

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The county’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate increased after leveling off earlier this month to about 17 new admissions per 100,000 people from Nov. 9 to Nov. 15. The county rate is about double the state’s, which appears to have leveled off.

PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center had 15 COVID-19 patients Wednesday, up from 10.

As of Monday, 57.7% of Cowlitz County residents had initiated vaccination and 53% were fully vaccinated. Statewide, 66.5% of residents had initiated vaccination and 61.4% were fully vaccinated.

About 15% of Washington’s 5- to 11-year-olds, 101-103 children, had initiated vaccination as of Monday.

Clinics and pharmacies began administering the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccines in early November, making children who received their first dose eligible for the second shot this week or next. Doses for that age group are one-third the dose given to people 12 years old and older and contain the same vaccine ingredients, according to the Department of Health.

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COVID-19 cases reported among students has slowed over the last two months as community transmission declined from its August and September highs.

Since Nov. 3, the Longview School District has reported 41 new COVID-19 cases, three of them staff members. Only one case was found to have been transmitted in school, a student on Nov. 10 at Robert Gray Elementary School. From the start of school, the district has reported 293 cases among students and staff.

Kelso has not reported any new cases since Oct. 21. The district has reported 22 in-school transmissions this year and five classroom closures.

Castle Rock has reported one new case since Oct. 29, a high school student on Nov. 8. The district has reported 69 cases this year.

Longview, Castle Rock and Kelso schools all use COVID-19 dashboards to report cases in schools. Other local districts do not publicly report cases in schools, and Kelso only reports student-to-student cases confirmed to be transmitted in schools.

The Daily News reporter Marissa Heffernan contributed to this story.

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