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caption: UW Medicine nurses use hand sanitizer after testing patients for coronavirus on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at the University of Washington Northwest Outpatient Medical Center drive-through testing area on Meridian Avenue North in Seattle.
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UW Medicine nurses use hand sanitizer after testing patients for coronavirus on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at the University of Washington Northwest Outpatient Medical Center drive-through testing area on Meridian Avenue North in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Coronavirus cases in King County still rising. Highest numbers since April

We are heading into another summer weekend with some sunshine for a change, and with cases of the Coronavirus on the rise. Public health officials are again urging people to mask-up and keep their distance from others.

KUOW Paige Browning brings us this Covid-19 update.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

We have been watching this for 19 weeks. We know cases are now heading back upwards around the state. What is the latest here in King County?

The seven-day average for the week that just ended was about 120 cases per day. Compare that to the middle of June. On June 12, the seven-day average was just over 35 cases. These are the cases per day.

That is just a stark contrast. Thirty-five then, 120 cases per day now on average. To further explain where we are, I'm going to defer to Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health Seattle and King County:

“The disease is as severe as ever, and the risk isn't going away in the foreseeable future. Our challenge together is to manage Covid-19 over the long term, in the zone between total shutdown and letting the virus run wild.”

We're still in Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan in King County. The rest of the state is somewhere between Phase 1 and 3, but things are getting worse, as far as the number of people diagnosed, and people going to the hospital with Covid-19. We just really haven't seen these numbers since back in April.

What do we know about who is getting sick now, and how it's spreading?

As we've been hearing for a few weeks, young people make up the majority of cases now. Nearly three out of every four new cases is a person under age 40. Part of the rise in King County is due to college-age students. We've heard about fraternities at UW getting sick. There's an outbreak there.

But, it is broader than that. Duchin says the people getting sick now are mostly essential workers, or people getting sick from their own friends and family. This is in households, and with people who are gathering. We just had the Fourth of July; a lot of people getting together.

What is this going to mean for schools when they're supposed to reopen in the fall?

We never got over the first wave of this virus. We're still in it. Dr. Duchin said when it gets colder, and people are inside, the cases are going to grow a lot:

“I don't think we ever suppressed our first wave, either locally or nationally. I'm very confident that we'll see much higher levels of transmission in the fall and winter. And that's a reason why people really need to take the opportunity now to make the changes that will really decrease transmission, because the threat is going to be much higher soon.”

That temptation is really there now, to go outside, to get together with people, but he's saying we've got to wear masks, we've got to have social distancing, or it's just going to get worse in the fall.

Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.