COVID-19 transmission slowing in Eastern Washington, DOH says

(STAFF REPORTS/Chewelah Independent)

Cases beginning to grow in older individuals, again…

The Washington State Department of Health announced yesterday that transmission of the virus is slowing overall in Eastern Washington. The DOH said that this is the first time the reproductive number for the virus is estimated to be below one.

“Maintaining or intensifying current levels of reduced activity, social distancing and mask use will be critical to keeping the reproductive number below one,” The Department of Health said in their news release.

Decreases in case counts come in previously hard-hit areas like Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties but there are also rises in cases in Okanogan, Chelan and Douglas counties. Okanogan county currently has the highest per-capita rate of the virus in the state.

NE Washington currently has eight people hospitalized because of the virus, including five from Stevens County. There have been 55 new cases of COVID-19 in Stevens, Pend Oreille and Ferry County in the past two weeks.

Tramission of the virus is still growing in Western Washington and the DOH said cases are increasing again in people age 40-69 and over 70.

“This is alarming because the risk of hospitalization and death is significantly higher for these age groups,” the DOH said in their news release.

“I’m very concerned to see these increases in older age groups, as we predicted. This was likely following the recent spike among younger people,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We all have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities. The good news is that wearing face coverings and keeping our distance is working. What each of us does matters, and we must all aggressively maintain these habits to make progress.”

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.

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