Daily Covid-19 counts now surpass previous peak in Washington state
Remember that "curve" a lot people talked about this spring, when they said we should "flatten the curve?" Across Washington state, the curve of confirmed Covid-19 cases is now looking more like a swelling wave.
That has health officials very concerned.
Since mid-June the daily counts of confirmed Covid-19 cases have swung upwards and now surpass the state’s previous peak that spanned mid-March to April.
About half as many people are being hospitalized with Covid-19 than the previous peak, however.
“We are carefully watching the number of cases rising across the country, and certainly here in Washington state, and are certainly very concerned about that,” Washington Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman said.
The highest rates in the state are in central Washington counties, Whatcom and Spokane counties, he said. Sixteen out of the state’s 39 counties have had fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, he said. Those numbers are a key metric assessed by the governor and health officials to see if a county is ready to move to a higher phase.
No county will be able to make that move until at least July 16. On July 2, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Health Secretary hit the "pause button" on counties moving forward with a higher phase of reopening.
“If (cases) continue to go up, moving out of this sort of pause on a phase really doesn’t seem very likely,” Wiesman said.
The percent of tests coming back positive has hovered between 4-6% since May, and was 5% at the beginning of July, which exceeds the state’s target of 2%.
New cases among younger people, people of color
Two recent reports from the Institute for Disease Modeling and the Washington State Department of Health show people under the age of 40 and people of color are increasingly bearing the burden of the disease in the state.
“People of Hispanic ethnicity or people who are Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders have rates of illness that are about nine times higher than whites, which is quite striking,” state Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said.
Younger people testing positive has nearly doubled, she said. January through March, 22% of cases were in people 35 years and younger, whereas in May and June they were 46% of cases.
Outbreaks are happening in a wide variety of settings, Lofy said, including restaurants, retail businesses, food production plants, educational settings and long-term care facilities.
Lofy's message to young people: limit your social interactions and always wear a mask when you’re interacting with other people.