Coronavirus, Public Health, Vaccines

Fourth Wave of COVID-19 Infections Threatens Washington State’s Return to Normal

Public Health Connection, Washington State Department of Health

COVID-19 cases are increasing again in Washington. This dangerous trend comes while hospitalizations and deaths are increasing, especially among younger populations. Medical experts say we have reached the ‘fourth wave’ of the pandemic in Washington. We have a higher rate of infections than we did in the third wave, and the numbers are increasing daily.

So how did we get here? Even with millions getting vaccinated?

  • There are five variants of concern spreading in Washington state. During the latest sequencing and variant report, we discovered a 35% increase in variants from the week before.
  • Experts believe these variants are causing more severe infections — raising hospitalization rates and ultimately, deaths. Over 600 hospitalizations were reported in the past week by state hospitals — the most we’ve seen in months.
  • Although people of all ages are vulnerable to COVID-19, the most recent wave seems to be impacting younger people more than others. People under the age of 50 currently make up half of Washington’s hospitalizations.
  • The virus continues to spread as more people let their guard down by not wearing masks, keeping physical distance, etc. Even if you are fully vaccinated, there are still guidelines to follow. We all need to do our part to slow the spread.
  • Demand for the vaccine is slowing, even though eligibility has expanded. The vaccine is our best shot to end the pandemic, and it’s effective against many variant strains.

The arrival of the fourth wave is troubling to medical experts, including Dr. John H. Vassall, Physician Executive, Quality and Safety, for Comagine Health.

“There are new variants spreading — so if we let down our guard, we give the virus the upper hand,” said Dr. Vassall. “As cases increase, restrictions that were lifted may have to be reintroduced. That’s damaging to morale and can delay when we all can get back to normal.”

As Dr. Vassall urges us to take this wave seriously, he reminds us how we can get back into control.

What can we do?

  • Don’t wait, get your COVID-19 vaccine ASAP! Appointments are readily available through Vaccine Locator. Encourage your loved ones to do the same. Better yet, take them with you to get vaccinated together!
  • Follow the guidelines for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. There are certain considerations for mask wearing, gatherings and travel.
  • Play it safe with gatherings. Enjoy the warmer weather and take it outside when you can.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive.
  • Download or enable WA Notify to receive notifications if you were in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

“We hoped that things would be getting under control by summer, and with everyone’s effort that could still happen,” Dr. Vassall added.

That takes all of us. Together We Will, Washington.

More information

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Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at

For more information about the vaccine, visit Check the vaccine locator tool to find out if it’s your turn for the vaccine and see a list of places where you can get it. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.