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Concern that climb in COVID-19 cases means ‘fall surge’ is starting

Experts say we must act now to reverse trend | State Department of Health

Data from the state Department of Health show that COVID-19 case numbers in Western Washington counties are climbing at an alarming rate, near or beyond previous peaks in some areas.

A total of 472 new cases were reported in the state on Oct. 18 after 532 new cases on Oct. 17 and 775 cases on Oct. 16. The state total is 98,661 cases through Oct. 18, including 2,258 deaths.

As cases in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties continue to trend sharply upward, health officials warn we may now be entering the fall surge.

Nationwide, numbers are concerning as well. On Oct. 16 there were 70,000 cases in one day in the United States, matching the largest number set back when disease activity was high in July. These cases are climbing, not because of localized outbreaks, but because of widespread disease transmission. A surge in cases right now could have very serious consequences for our healthcare system, local plans to open schools, the state’s economic recovery and beyond, according to a Oct. 20 state Department of Health news release.

“When this happens, we place everyone, but particularly our elders, parents, grandparents and those with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other chronic disease at great risk,” said state Secretary of Health John Wiesman in the release. “A surge in COVID-19 along with flu season puts us at enormous risk of overwhelming our hospital systems and undoing other important statewide progress toward containment. However, all of us doing our part can turn this trend around.”

There is so much happening right now that make our efforts challenging. People have been at this for months, online schooling is pulling attention of people with children at home, and everyone is feeling some level of isolation fatigue. Now is the time to join your neighbors and commit to key behaviors that keep the virus from spreading, like:

• Wearing a mask, even with people you see regularly and in your smallest social circles and anytime you are using shared transportation, including while in your own vehicle with other people.

• Keeping gatherings small and hold them outside whenever possible.

• Avoiding any social gatherings indoors, but if you must participate, wearing a mask and ensuring windows and doors are open to maximize ventilation.

• Washing or sanitizing hands often and not touching your face.

• Staying home if you’re sick or if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

“It’s time to flatten the curve again,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “I’m optimistic we can get our kids in school, keep our businesses open and control the spread of COVID-19 if everyone does their part.”


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