The Washington State Department of Health announced 1,777 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, Nov. 6. The week prior, it announced 1,000 new cases in a day for the first time since mid-summer. On Oct. 30, it shared a report detailing how COVID-19 spread is intensifying across the state, https://bit.ly/359GV7c. On Nov. 4, Washington broke another record with 1,454 total cases in a day. And the state ended last week with yet another broken record.
These numbers reflect an overall surge that started in mid-September and are very troubling as we head into darker, colder months, the holidays and the respiratory virus season.
The fall surge, which is showing no signs of stopping, has erased the progress that we made this summer. Western Washington, specifically King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, are hot zones for disease transmission, and they’re following a troubling nationwide trend. Last week, the United States broke two records in as many days: more than 100,000 cases reported on Nov. 4 and more than 116,000 on Nov. 5.
“COVID-19 is currently spreading very quickly in Washington state,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We are very concerned that disease transmission will only grow over the next few weeks with the holidays coming up. The threat to overwhelming not just our hospital systems, but our ability to do contact tracing, is real. We need everyone in Washington state to take action now to stop the spread.”
As the holidays approach, everyone should take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including:
• Limit in-person gatherings as much as you can. That means reducing the number of times you gather, how many people attend and how long you spend together. Gather outside if possible, or open windows and doors to maximize ventilation inside.
• Always wear a face-covering when you’re around people who don’t live with you. This includes close friends and family. It may feel awkward to do this around people we know well and trust, but many people get COVID-19 from someone who doesn’t have symptoms yet. Even if you’re keeping some physical distance, it’s still a good idea to wear a face covering.
• Talk to your family and friends about alternate ways to celebrate the holidays. Brainstorm ideas for virtual celebrations so you can still enjoy spending time together without putting each other at risk.
• Make a safety plan for in-person gatherings. Have a conversation with your family and friends about what you’re going to do to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when you gather.
• Stay home if you’re sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. If you’re feeling a little under the weather but aren’t sure if you’re getting sick, take the cautious approach and protect others by staying home.
• Keep up your good hygiene habits. Wash or sanitize your hands often and avoid touching your face.
More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH website and in the state’s risk assessment dashboard. Additional resources for the holidays are available at coronavirus.wa.gov/gatherings.
“These increases reflect the impact of our collective decisions and behavior. Each one of us needs to take immediate action to avoid new restrictions and prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” said Deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach. “We are all tired and want to spend time with loved ones during the holidays and continue progress toward safely reopening schools, but high community rates increase the risk of every single activity we do, and unfortunately, the virus does not get tired or take holidays. We know what works to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we’ve flattened our curve before. We must push through the fatigue and redouble our efforts to contain the virus.”