COVID Case Counts Down Across All Age Ranges: Washington DOH

OLYMPIA, WA — Daily COVID-19 case counts remain high across Washington, but state health leaders are now hopeful that the latest wave of infections may soon be coming to an end.

At the Washington State Department of Health’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary of Health for the COVID-19 Response, confirmed that cases are now decreasing statewide across all age groups.

“We’re encouraged that we’re going the right direction, but we have a long way to go to get through this delta wave and prepare for the winter respiratory virus season,” Fehrenbach said.

Hospitalizations are also on the decline, and around 18 percent of the state’s hospital beds are currently filled. That’s down from a high of around 25 percent in early September, but still above the state’s goal of having less than 10 percent of beds filled.

But hospital admissions are still higher than they had been at the peak of the third wave of infections last winter, and ICU occupancy remains at around 88 to 89 percent — so while the decline is good news, experts stress this doesn’t mean Washington is out of the woods yet.

“The health care system is getting a little bit of relief, but is still very, very stressed and stretched, and we expect that this will continue,” Fehrenbach said.

Staying smart during the holiday season will be key to continuing the downward trend, the DOH said. Last winter, Washington saw case counts soar to new, record-breaking heights as temperatures dipped and more and more people started gathering indoors or traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fehrenbach says, that’s not something we want to see again this year.

“Our ability to continue on this trajectory really depends on the public continuing to step forward to get vaccinated and wear their masks,” Fehrenbach said. “These are positive signs, we want to recognize that progress, but we’ve got to keep rowing together to protect our communities.”

To prevent another winter surge, the DOH is urging Washingtonians to get vaccinated before gathering with their families for the holidays — both for the flu and against COVID-19.

“It is hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is six weeks away from tomorrow, so if you are not yet protected and have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine, you have time,” Fehrenbach said.

Source: Bellevue Patch