If you’re hankering for a Halloween scare, look no further than newly released stats on the spread of COVID-19.
In King County, the number of new cases reported each day has increased 2.5-fold compared to what it was in mid-September. The region, which includes Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, is averaging 170-190 new COVID infections daily, which is approximately 8 cases per 100,000 people.
“We clearly need a COVID-19 reboot,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, the top health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “We expected it would be more challenging to manage COVID-19 during the fall and winter as we spend more time indoors and the environment changes, but the virus clearly has the home field advantage right now, and we need to step up our game big time.”
Washington state health officials this week reported a total of 105,557 cases and 2,359 deaths since COVID was originally detected in the state in February. On a per capita basis, Washington has 10.1 daily cases on average per 100,000, according to the New York Times.
Overall, the U.S. has more than twice the infection rate as Washington, with 23 daily cases per 100,000 people. America has tallied more than 9 million COVID cases and some 228,700 deaths, according to the Times. The disease is the second leading cause of death after heart disease.
The rate of infections is rising across the country, health officials and data trackers reported. The nation set a record with more than 500,000 new cases this week, said The COVID Tracking Project.
This, of course, is just the start of fall. So what’s the outlook for the rest of the year?
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) had more troubling news. Unless steps are taken to curb peoples’ exposure, such as mandates to limit the size of gatherings and business operations, the total deaths could reach more than 500,000 by Feb. 1, it projected in a briefing this week. If the nation adopted universal mask use, that number dips below 350,000. Other projections, the IHME said, are less bleak.
[email protected]_UW now projects 399,000 #COVID19 cumulative deaths by February 1. If states do not react to risingnumbers by re-imposing mandates, cumulative deaths could reach 514,000 by the same date. pic.twitter.com/3XoIV9YOt7
“The potential for a significantly more severe outbreak than we have yet seen is real, but not inevitable,” Duchin said. “I feel that we’re heading down a treacherous path and the longer we wait, the more difficult it gets to reverse the trajectory of our increasing outbreak.”
As we approach the holidays, people are wondering about quarantines and testing as a means to gathering safely. Duchin said that quarantining for 14 days followed by a negative test should be safe, but there are no guarantees.
A preliminary, non-peer reviewed study posted this week found that testing was more effective after, rather than before, quarantine.
In a video conference on Thursday, Duchin shared additional local figures, including the sources of the virus’s spread.
The update wasn’t all tricks and no treats. The good news from King County includes the fact that people are able to get COVID tests within two days or less of noticing symptoms, the rate of death here and elsewhere is below the set target and only three-quarters of hospital beds are filled, with only 2% being used by COVID patients. It also appears that infections are dropping for young adults as an outbreak in the UW’s fraternity and sorority housing has declined.
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News – Seattle-area health officials call for ‘COVID-19 reboot’ as cases and hospitalizations rise