OLYMPIA — On Friday the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report, which highlights alarming trends in transmission and hospitalization data. (A pdf of this report is attached.)
Report findings include:
• The spread of covid-19 continues to accelerate across most of Washington state as of the start of July. The reproductive number (the estimated number of new people each covid-19 patient will infect) is still well above one in both eastern and western Washington, with the exception of Yakima County. The goal is a reproductive number below one, which would mean the number of people getting covid-19 is declining.
• In Yakima County, the encouraging signs highlighted in previous reports appear to be plateauing. The reproductive number in Yakima County is estimated to be close to one. However, the test positive rate (the proportion of people who test positive) remains high. To maintain this progress, the county must continue to strictly follow mask and distancing policies.
• Changing our behavior makes a difference. The report contrasts the sharp turnaround in Yakima County — where recent efforts to control the virus resulted in increased use of face masks and distancing — with the exponential and accelerating growth of cases in Spokane County.
• The level of daily new cases is higher than the state’s previous peak in March.
• Recent growth in cases among 20-29 year olds is spreading into all age groups. This includes low but increasing rates among children and teens. It reflects the age breakdown among new infections in Florida just one month ago, which have since spread broadly into younger and older age groups.
• Hospitalization rates are rising throughout the state. In eastern Washington, hospitalizations continue to increase across all age groups. In western Washington, these rates are just starting to increase, led by hospitalizations among 20-39 year olds. As case counts once again grow among older and more vulnerable people, hospitalizations are likely to continue trending up.
“In these trends, we are seeing the impact of our collective decisions. We are jeopardizing the gains we made as a state with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and the actions each one of us takes now will determine what happens next,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “If we want to send our kids to school in the fall and avoid new restrictions, we must all make a conscious shift in the way we live our lives. That means staying at home as much as possible, reducing how many people we see in person and continuing to wear face coverings and keep physical distance in public.”