COVID-19 cases surge in Washington State
Washington State is currently enduring one of its most serious COVID-19 influxes to date. With the state’s total case count having recently surpassed 118,000, the daily case count in Washington has steadily increased since it hit a low point in mid-September. There have been several noteworthy spikes in cases in the past couple of weeks, recently culminating in the highest daily case count the state has experienced yet.
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On Saturday, the State Department of Health announced Washington had hit a new record for daily case counts with 1,777 new cases. This breaks the previous record set on Friday when the department reported 1,691 total new cases. Levels like this have not been seen since early August.
“COVID-19 is currently spreading very quickly in Washington state,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a statement. “We are very concerned that disease transmission will only grow over the next few weeks with the holidays coming up. The threat to overwhelming not just our hospital systems, but our ability to do contact tracing, is real. We need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread.”
According to the Washington State Hospital Association, in the month of November alone, King County — by far the state’s most case-abundant area — has had its total case count rise from 28,223 on November 1st to 30,854 on November 9th, continuing the upward trend the county experienced for much of October.
The regions that have undergone the most extreme rise in cases are primarily Washington’s highly-populated counties, specifically King, Yakima, and Pierce counties. Additionally, Snohomish and Spokane counties have recently experienced a significant surge in cases. On November 7th, King County had 491 confirmed cases in a single day, contributing to the populous county’s overall case total of over 30,000. On the same day, there were 159 new cases in Pierce County and 138 new cases in Snohomish County.
Furthermore, there have been 73 confirmed deaths recorded so far this month statewide. The rate has risen slightly from the 70 confirmed deaths of the previous week, and it is significantly higher than it was two weeks prior, when reported deaths totaled 57 from October 19th to October 26th. This rapid rise in death rates emphasizes the intensity of cases that Washington has seen in the past couple of weeks.
Although the state is experiencing a high diagnosis rate, Washington State hospitals have not yet been overwhelmed by capacity constraints. According to data collected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), they have so far maintained adequate room for incoming COVID-19 patients in need of hospitalization. However, if this trend continues, the need for ICU beds in the state could surpass hospitals’ actual ICU bed capacity in late December, according to a projection by the IHME.
In terms of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, the COVID Tracking Project shows that Washington has seen an increase from 386 current hospitalizations on November 1st to 404 hospitalizations on November 8th. It is worth pointing out that this 18 person increase in hospitalizations is rather meager when compared to those of other states experiencing even higher COVID rates. For instance, November COVID hospitalizations in Iowa have so far already risen by 274 occupants, and Nebraska’s have risen by 147. Regardless of this difference, the recent surge in Washington’s COVID cases could indicate that a considerable rise in hospitalizations could soon become likely.