More than 5,000 people in Washington State have died of COVID-19 as of this week.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) made the announcement on March 4, nearly one year after the first COVID-related death was reported in Washington on February 29, 2020.
According to the DOH, today’s announcement coincides with the death of more than 500,000 Americans due to the virus.
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Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health, is asking Washington residents to remember those lost to the virus by observing a moment of silence on March 4 at noon or at a time of their choosing.
“The sad truth is that this pandemic is not over,” said Secretary Shah in a press release. “But there is also hope. We have the power to stop the spread of this virus. Please wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. It’s up to all of us to protect our families and communities. We will heal. We will recover. And we will never forget those we have lost.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee acknowledged the grim milestone in a news release: “Each of these 5,000 lives were more than a number to us. Each represents the loss of a unique individual who has left an empty chair in the lives of family, friends, and community.”
“At the same time, it is fitting and proper to be thankful for the efforts of our citizens to fight COVID-19. Our residents have kept each other safe. If we had suffered the same death rate as other states, such as South Dakota, we would be mourning an 11,000 additional Washingtonians right now. Washingtonians do right by each other. We will continue to do all we can to help reduce infections, hospitalizations and deaths, so that more Washingtonians can emerge from this pandemic to enjoy healthy lives.”
According to Public Health Seattle and King County, 100% of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have been visited by vaccinators. Fifty-nine percent of King County residents aged 75 years or older have at least one documented dose.
Sixty-eight percent of licensed healthcare workers have received at least one dose, and 17 mobile teams have been deployed in the field to vaccinate high-risk older adults in the county.
While Phase A1 of COVID vaccinations is still the priority, the DOH is hoping that the release of Phase B1 guidance will help facilities, counties, and individuals to plan for the months ahead. Once the state is ready to start Phase B1, they will let communities know how and where to get the vaccine.