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COVID-19 is on a path to runaway growth in Washington state

Controlling transmission through face masks, social distancing, and hygiene critical


OLYMPIA—The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report on Friday, July 17, which shows that Washington State as a whole is in an explosive situation. Transmission continues to increase or accelerate across most of Washington state.

All indicators of the extent of viral spread are higher than last week, except for Yakima County.

In both eastern and western Washington, cases are increasing fastest among 20-29-year-olds and are also growing in both younger and older age groups around them. There is no progress to zero; the level of daily new cases is substantially higher than the state’s previous peak in March.

The spread of COVID-19 continues to accelerate across most of Washington state as of the start of July. The reproductive number (the estimated number of new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) is still well above one in both eastern and western Washington, except for Yakima County. Only a reproductive number below one means the number of people getting COVID-19 is declining.

The latest report contrasts the sharp turnaround in Yakima County—where recent efforts to control the virus resulted in increased use of face masks and distancing—with the exponential and accelerating growth of cases in Spokane County.

Hospitalization rates are rising throughout the state. In eastern Washington, hospitalizations continue to increase across all age groups. In western Washington, these rates are just starting to grow, led by admissions among 20-39-year-olds.

As case counts once again grow among older and more vulnerable people, hospitalizations are likely to continue trending up.

DOH partners with the Institute for Disease Modeling, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington, and the Microsoft AI for Health program to develop this weekly report. More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH website and in the state’s risk assessment dashboard.

“In these trends, we are seeing the impact of our collective decisions. We are jeopardizing the gains we made as a state with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and the actions each one of us takes now will determine what happens next,” said. “If we want to send our kids to school in the fall and avoid new restrictions, we must all make a conscious shift in the way we live our lives. That means staying at home as much as possible, reducing how many people we see in person and continuing to wear face coverings and keep physical distance in public.”


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