While caution is still key, Washington’s Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah says the state’s COVID-19 numbers are “going in the right direction.”
Numbers of new cases and deaths are down almost across the board, because vaccines work, said Shah at the Department of Health’s weekly news briefing Wednesday.
“Get them. Help others get them,” he said. “Protect yourself, your loved ones and your community … We do not want to see a tale of two societies.”
Case counts have declined since late April, according to a June 3 DOH situation report based on data available through May 20.
The seven-day rolling average case count declined from a peak of 2,930 on Jan. 8 to 741 cases per day on Feb. 15. It remained at that level for a month before cases increased to 1,501 per day on April 23. It has since declined to 848 as of May 20.
Hospital admissions have also continued to decline since late April, with the seven-day rolling average of hospital admissions falling from a peak of 117 on Jan. 6 to 31 on March 6. That number remained stable until late March, reaching a peak of 82 on April 27, and declining once again to 65 on May 20, the DOH report said.
Deaths have remained fairly steady since late March, with some variability, the department said. The seven-day rolling average of deaths declined from a peak of 32 on Jan. 10 to 5 on March 23.
According to DOH, 7.2 million vaccine doses have been given to Washington residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose data incorporates figures from sources not shared with DOH, reported that 7.8 million shots had been given.
According to DOH, 3.4 million Washingtonians age 16 and up, about 56% of the population, are fully vaccinated.
Over 73% of those 65 and over have been fully vaccinated, but 20% of the same group have yet to initiate vaccination. Vaccination rates across all age groups continue to show signs of slowing, with an average of about 29,203 doses administered per day as of May 31, DOH reported.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, the state’s epidemiologist for communicable diseases, said the most recent variant reports indicate that the alpha variant, first identified in the U.K., remains the most prevalent in Washington, and continues to spread across the state.
Of the 21,104 coronavirus positive specimens sequenced since January, DOH’s most recent variants report showed 4,603 cases of the alpha variant. The second most frequently detected variant is epsilon, first identified in California; DOH documented 2,571 cases.
The highly transmissible delta variant, first identified in India, accounts for just 5% of new infections in the state, said Lindquist.
Shah and other health officials said that while the numbers are encouraging and trending in the right direction, it’s important to continue wearing a mask, avoid indoor gatherings and get as many people vaccinated as possible.