skip to main content
Health
caption: Julie Czartoski, a nurse practitioner at Fred Hutch, waits for first responders to arrive to participate in the Seattle Covid Cohort Study on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at Fred Hutch in Seattle. First responders with the Seattle Fire Department who either hadn't tested positive for the coronavirus, or had never been tested at all, were tested for the virus as well as for antibodies.
Enlarge Icon
Julie Czartoski, a nurse practitioner at Fred Hutch, waits for first responders to arrive to participate in the Seattle Covid Cohort Study on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at Fred Hutch in Seattle. First responders with the Seattle Fire Department who either hadn't tested positive for the coronavirus, or had never been tested at all, were tested for the virus as well as for antibodies.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Third Covid-19 surge hits western Washington

Public health officials say a third surge of coronavirus cases is hitting western Washington.

New cases have about doubled over the past month in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, according to Washington Department of Health statistics.

The department calls the trend “alarming.”

New cases haven’t matched the peak numbers the region saw this summer during the pandemic’s second wave.

Epidemiologists say fatigue from many months of social isolation plays a part in the latest surge.

So does weather.

“It started with the smoke event and the turn in the weather that we think brought a lot of people indoors,” said Seattle-King County health officer Jeff Duchin.

“We’re seeing a lot of household cases, where people have contacts within their household and are passing Covid along to household members,” said Tacoma-Pierce County epidemiologist Cindan Gizzi. “As we spend more time indoors, it’s more likely that we will be seeing household contacts increasing.”

In contrast to new infections, rates of hospitalizations and deaths have remained fairly steady.

Epidemiologists say, with winter coming, it’s time to step up our efforts to ward off this virus.

"It will be easier for the virus to spread for the next five months or so," Duchin said.

Following basic safety precautions, however tiresome, can make all the difference, according to Duchin.

“It can save 1,000 lives between now and February in Washington state,” he said.

"We’re seeing Covid cases result from any type of gathering," Gizzi said. "That could be a large household gathering. It could be gathering at a social event, anyplace people gather, especially indoors. That’s how this is being transmitted."

Health officials urge people to keep masking up and distancing from others, even trusted friends and neighbors, who may not know they’re infected and contagious.

Avoid large gatherings and indoor spaces.

And wash your hands.