DOH: New report shows increasing COVID-19 activity, some Eastern Washington counties now comparable to King County at March peak

On Saturday, June 13th the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest COVID-19 statewide situation report, which shows virus transmission continued to increase in eastern Washington as of the end of May, with a possible uptick in western Washington as well.

DOH said there are still significant differences in transmission from county to county.

According to DOH, the situation in eastern Washington is of greatest concern – particularly in Benton, Franklin, Spokane and Yakima counties. The report estimates cases and deaths in these counties will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at current levels.

In fact, by population, these counties are in a comparable position to King County at its March peak. DOH said these counties may require similar efforts to expand hospital capacity and testing, protect the people at highest risk and increase physical distancing.

“The trends we’re seeing point to the critical importance of actions we can all take, like staying six feet apart and wearing cloth face coverings whenever we’re in public, as well as a need for increased response in these harder-hit areas,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer at DOH. “We’re working closely with the Governor’s Office, local officials and partners to identify additional ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in these regions. Every single person in our state can and must do their part to help by following public health recommendations.”

Meanwhile in Western Washington, DOH said case counts had been trending flat, but small increases are now being observed. State and local officials will continue to monitor the region carefully to determine whether the slight increase in COVID-19 transmission shown in the report continues to grow.

The situation report findings include possible transmission increases over Memorial Day weekend, but DOH said this does not include increases that may have occurred following recent protests.

The report also includes a new measure called Progress to Zero for each county, which shows how far cases have declined from the peak level of activity. This measure varies considerably across the state, with some counties showing large decreases – like King County – and other counties that have not yet reached a peak number of cases including Yakima, Klickitat, Benton, Franklin, Spokane and Stevens counties.

The most recent estimates of transmission in eastern and western Washington are also available in the state’s risk assessment dashboard. The dashboard measures the same key metrics the Seattle-King County DOH dashboard does, but for each Washington State county.

According to the assessment dashboard, King County – currently in modified phase 1.5 – is meeting as many key metric goals (3/5) as neighboring, populous Pierce and Snohomish counties, which are currently in phase 2. King County is also meeting more key metrics goals than populous Spokane county (2/5), which is in phase 2.

According to the Seattle Times, King County could apply this week to move to phase 2, which would expand some business capacity and slightly relax restrictions on social gatherings.

As of June 13th, King County had reported 8,751 COVID-19 cases – up 51 from the previous day – and 574 deaths – level from the previous day.

The positive COVID-19 test rate for King County is still on the decline, now at 6.2% according to WA DOH. At its late March peak, that positive test rate was approximately 14%.

Locally, Snoqualmie has reported 27 total cases since the outbreak began – with four cases in May and none in June. Snoqualmie’s positive test rate is 5.1%. The City of North Bend (not including unincorporated area) has reported 18 cases – two in May and none in June – and has a 4.3% positive test rate.

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  • So, Seattle is meeting the metrics regarding the criteria to open at Stage Two.
    Was that before, or after the CHAZ?

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