About 30 COVID-19 cases recently reported in Cowlitz County are connected to two separate Independence Day gatherings, and more cases related to those gatherings likely will emerge in the next few days, the county’s top health official reported Monday.

Dr. Steve Krager, county deputy health officer, said 20 reported cases are associated with a July 4 party, and 10 others are linked to a family gathering that weekend.

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Cowlitz County on Monday reported 13 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, bringing the county’s total to 286. The county recorded 28 cases Friday, its biggest one-day report since the pandemic began.

Cases from the two gatherings drove much of the increase since Friday, but Krager didn’t have the exact breakdown of which days the cases were reported. And some of the 20 cases from the Independence Day celebration haven’t been added to the county’s online count yet, he said.

Krager said he expects more cases linked to the Independence Day gathering because it seems that some household members of infected individuals are already getting sick. He said he doesn’t expect as much spread to come from the other gathering because it was limited to one family.

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People should be on the lookout for symptoms and get tested if they notice any, especially if they have been to a gathering within the last 14 days, Krager said.

“All it takes (to spread the disease) is one person to be sick without knowing it or sick with mild symptoms they don’t know are due to COVID-19,” he said.

The risk of catching the virus depends somewhat on a individual’s behavior at a gathering, Krager said. If the event was outside and the person wore a mask and kept their distance, the risk is smaller. However, just because an event is outside doesn’t mean there’s no risk, he said.

So far this month, Cowlitz County’s caseload has jumped 52%, with 98 new cases.

Cases among younger people are continuing to increase. By the end of June, infections among people 39 and younger made up about 51% of the county’s total. So far in July, that’s increased to about 60%.

Four virus patients are currently hospitalized, three outside and one inside of the county, according to the Cowlitz COVID-19 Incident Management Team. As of Friday, 106 cases are considered recovered.

(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)

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