Just days after announcing that the fall coronavirus surge is showing no signs of stopping, the Washington State Department of Health has revealed that an increase in COVID-19 activity is “extremely concerning as the holiday season nears.”
The department explained that transmission is happening at an accelerated pace across the entire state. The ideal reproductive number, which indicates how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect, is well below one. Western Washington currently has a reproductive number of 1.29, while eastern Washington is seeing a higher number at 1.36.
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In addition to higher transmission levels, case counts and hospitalizations have increased in both western and eastern Washington from mid to late October. Even if cases start to plateau, the department believes that hospitalizations will continue to rise as patients may stay in the hospital for several weeks.
“I am extremely concerned about what seems to be an accelerating trend in the spread of COVID-19,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy in a press release. “This situation is extraordinarily urgent, and we’re running out of time to change direction. We need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The department once again expressed concern that transmission will only grow with the upcoming holidays, and it is urging Washingtonians to “take action now to stop the spread.”
Washingtonians can reduce transmission rates by limiting in-person gatherings, wearing face coverings when around people, celebrating the holidays virtually, keeping up with good hygiene habits, and staying home when sick.