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Where COVID case rates, hospitalizations are highest in Washington

People play volleyball at Green Lake Park as Seattle became the first major city to reach a 70 percent COVID-19 vaccination rate on June 10, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising again across Washington, health officials are continuing to urge everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so.

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In Washington, most of the COVID-19 hotspots right now are in Eastern Washington. West of the Cascades, Island and Pacific counties are seeing the highest transmission, followed by King, Pierce, Clallum, Lewis, and Clark counties.

“We are extremely concerned by this increased spike in cases, driven by the delta variant, spreading like wildfire amongst men, women, and children,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, state secretary of health. “Vaccination the best tool we have in this pandemic, but we also recommend that individuals mask indoors, and avoid large, crowded settings vaccinated or not. We need to use all the tools we have to reduce the ongoing spread of this virus in our community and to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”

Case rates are rising across all age groups. Within the last 30 days, the majority of counties have seen substantial increases:

  • Only seven counties (Kittitas, Okanogan, Ferry, Klickitat, Walla Walla, Jefferson, Garfield, Grays Harbor) have seen cases increase less than 100%.
  • Twelve counties (Adams, Thurston, Snohomish, Benton, Skamania, Whatcom, Skagit, Kitsap, Yakima, Cowlitz, Mason, Grant) have seen cases increase between 100-299%.
  • Ten counties (Clallam, Stevens, Asotin, Whitman, Franklin, Spokane, King, Clark, Lewis, Pierce) have seen cases increase between 300-599%.
  • Six counties (Pend Oreille, Douglas, Lincoln, Pacific, Chelan, Island) have seen cases increase more than 600%.
  • Columbia, San Juan and Wahkiakum counties have among the fewest cases.

The state is now seeing daily case counts in the 3,000 range for the first time since the winter surge. As of July 30, one in 172 Washington residents was estimated to have an active COVID-19 infection.

The Washington State Department of Health also reports that hospitals and health care facilities are under “immense and increasing strain.” Many hospitals and facilities are facing staffing challenges that decrease the number of available beds, plus an increasing number of workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 is only further impacting those challenges.

COVID-19 related hospital admissions, the state DOH says, reached November 2020 levels as of Aug. 8, based on data reported by hospitals. Admission rates are up in all 18+ age groups. Hospital and ICU occupancy is up too, and many regional hospitals are at or near capacity.

State health officials say unvaccinated people are being hit hardest in this latest surge, with about 95% of COVID cases who were hospitalized from February to late July were not fully vaccinated.

All Washington health officers recommend masks in indoor, public spaces

In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials say now is the time to “redouble efforts” that keep the virus from spreading, including wearing a mask, watching distance from others, washing hands often, carrying hand sanitizer, and enabling WA Notify on your phone.

“Vaccination progress is continuing, but not fast enough,” Shah said. “If you are unvaccinated and continue to have questions, we encourage you to speak to a trusted healthcare provider.”

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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