People sick with the novel coronavirus are infecting fewer people, and in some counties, COVID-19 case counts are plateauing or even falling, according to the latest statewide situation report from the Washington State Department of Health.
That’s the good news.
Despite those bright spots, new outbreaks around prisons, college towns and hospitals, as well as rising case counts in some counties, underscore that Washington state is not out of the woods, the department warned.
And while statewide hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 haven’t risen for the past three weeks, according to the department, they also haven’t gone down. Roughly 40 people are hospitalized and 10 to 15 die from the virus each day.
“While we see some positive trends in our data, we must continue to think differently about the ways we interact with one another,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a statement. “It remains critical that we limit the size and frequency of our social gatherings, wear face coverings and stay home when we are sick.”
Estimated effective reproductive numbers — the approximate number of people one person carrying the novel coronavirus will infect — have remained below one since late July in both Eastern and Western Washington. That could mean COVID-19 transmission is declining, health officials say, though the data is uncertain.
Case counts have plateaued in King and Clark counties and decreased in Benton, Franklin, Pierce and Yakima counties, the new data shows.
But case counts are rising in Grant, Lewis and Walla Walla counties, the new report noted. And recent localized outbreaks at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla County, among off-campus college students in Whitman County and at a hospital in Kitsap County “highlight our continued susceptibility,” according to the department.
Until case counts start to decrease across the board, schools are unable to reopen safely, Wiesman said.