Increase in COVID-19 activity statewide extremely concerning as holiday season nears, officials say and call for renewed prevention efforts now.
A new report released today by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) warns that the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating acrcoss the state.
Report findings include:
- Disease is spreading rapidly across Washington. The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) are 1.29 in western Washington and 1.36 in eastern Washington as of October 30. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining.
- From mid to late-October, case counts and hospitalizations have increased in both western and eastern Washington. Although some of the increase in cases through early October is related to increased testing volumes, more recent case counts in both eastern and western Washington have increased, despite testing volumes being flat.
- Hospitalizations will continue to rise in western Washington even if cases start to plateau. Hospital admissions in western Washington have been increasing since the start of October. Because patients may stay in the hospital for up to several weeks, hospital occupancy will continue to rise for some time after hospital admissions level off.
“I am extremely concerned about what seems to be an accelerating trend in the spread of COVID-19. Immediate action is needed from all of us to avoid new restrictions and prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy.
“This situation is extraordinarily urgent, and we’re running out of time to change direction,” she warned. “We need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
There is still time for Washingtonians to make a difference:
- Wear a mask around people you don’t live with (even close friends and family).
- Stay home as much as possible, limit the number, size and frequency of gatherings, and only attend gatherings that are essential.
- Wash your hands frequently, get your flu shot, and stay home if you’re sick.
- People who want to visit family for Thanksgiving should limit themselves to only the most essential activities now, and essentially quarantine for two weeks before even a small outdoor gathering.
Get tips for safer gatherings and ideas for alternative celebrations here.
DOH partners with the Institute for Disease Modeling, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and the Microsoft AI for Health program to develop these reports every other week.