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caption: Travelers wear masks as they check in next to a holiday tree at a Southwest Airlines ticket desk, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
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Travelers wear masks as they check in next to a holiday tree at a Southwest Airlines ticket desk, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.
Credit: (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Covid cases quadruple in the Seattle area in a single day, where omicron dominates

King County reported 2,879 new Covid cases on Thursday — the most new daily cases documented since the pandemic started. New cases of the disease more than quadrupled between Wednesday and Thursday in King County, which has seen a 169% increase in cases over the past week.

Experts have confirmed that the omicron variant is driving the local Covid spike. They say over 80% of new Covid cases in the area have been linked to the variant.

The new cases reported on Thursday make up over half of new Covid cases the county has seen over the last seven days. King County reported 2,879 cases on Thursday, compared to 617 new cases the day before, on Wednesday.

Researchers at the University of Washington Virology Lab said on Wednesday they are now certain omicron is the dominant Covid strain in the Puget Sound region. However, the delta variant continues to drive the majority of cases emerging in southwest and eastern Washington, they said.

Health officials have warned that this holiday season would inevitably be marked by a surge in Covid cases as the omicron variant, which appears to spread more easily than others, makes its rounds. Many have predicted that the colder months could usher in the worst infection rates seen throughout the pandemic thus far.

Experts have also predicted that omicron will, on average, cause more mild symptoms and will lead to lower rates of hospitalization than the delta variant. However, they've also cautioned that even with lower hospitalization rates, more people overall becoming infected and in a shorter period of time could overburden health care systems all the same.

This latest local Covid spike mirrors the rapid community spread of the omicron variant seen in European countries and South Africa, where cases of the strain are doubling every two to three days.

Reported symptoms of omicron infections include coughing, congestion, a runny nose, and fatigue. In other words, a case of Covid this winter could mimick the symptoms of a common cold. That's why health experts are urging people to get tested for Covid at the first signs of even mild sickness, to determine whether you need to isolate for 10 days.

Experts have also underscored the importance of taking layered precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus this winter: getting your primary Covid shots (Pfizer and Moderna preferred to Johnson & Johnson) and boosters when eligible, wearing properly fitted and medical grade masks, avoiding crowds when possible, and maintaining adequate indoor ventilation.