COVID cases on the rise…again

— Created July 28, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

A recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases on Whidbey Island has officials from WhidbeyHealth Medical Center in Coupeville on alert.

Concern over hospital capacity prompted officials to post a message on WhidbeyHealth’s website and its social media late last week, telling the community positive cases of COVID-19 are “rising dramatically” in Island County as well as across the state and that the medical center is nearly full, which could lead to delays in treatment.

“Simply put, people are getting sick and very soon there will not be enough patient beds available to treat everyone – whether seeking care at WhidbeyHealth, another hospital, or transfer to another hospital if more advanced care is required,” the statement read, further encouraging residents who have not yet been vaccinated to do so.

Dr. Nicholas Perera, a WhidbeyHealth Emergency Department physician, added his own comments to the WhidbeyHealth statement:

“Yesterday at work (July 22), I diagnosed four cases of COVID. Of those, three were hospitalized; of those, two went to the ICU and one of those to the pediatric ICU. “

 Perera’s post said all the COVID cases he has seen have been among unvaccinated individuals.

 According to WhidbeyHealth Marketing Manager Conor O’Brien, as of 2 p.m. Monday there were 22 inpatients (the hospital cannot exceed 25 inpatients) and the ICU was full. Of the current inpatients, 23-percent of them were hospitalized due to COVID-related illness. O’Brien said it is unknown how many of those COVID cases were due to the Delta variant.

“The key difference with the Delta variant is its transmissibility,” he said. “In comparison to the initial wave of coronavirus and subsequent variants, the Delta variant has not been found to be a stronger version of the virus, just one that is easier to pass between people. This is why WhidbeyHealth is continuing to encourage vaccines for all. If members of our community decide not to vaccinate, we’re continuing to strongly encourage masking, social distancing, and good hand hygiene practices.”

O’Brien said WhidbeyHealth had administered 130 COVID-19 swab tests in the previous 10 days to people presenting at the emergency room. Of those, 12 people tested positive, or an 11 percent positivity rate.

“WhidbeyHealth is asking our community for their support, as they have supported us throughout the pandemic,” he said. “We’re our community’s local healthcare option and being able to continue to provide exceptional healthcare close to home is key to our mission. While many social restrictions have been lifted in the past few weeks, our county’s care rates per 100,000 have increased to near pandemic levels as well. We would be delighted to have all of Island County vaccinated but understand that some of our community have decided not to do so. For those who have made this decision, we urge additional cautions and highly recommend that they continue to mask, social distance, and practice good hand hygiene.”

Whidbey Weekly reached out to the Island County Department of Public Health via email, but got no response to our inquiry. According to the website, there were 64 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed between July 15 and July 22. Also according to the website, there will be a mobile vaccination clinic from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hydros for Heroes event in Oak Harbor. An appointment is not necessary and there is no cost for a vaccination and neither ID nor insurance is necessary. Learn more at