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Rate of new COVID-19 cases in Washington now exceeds March peak

A COVID-19 testing site in Seattle. (Getty Images)

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Washington now exceeds the peak level the state had seen during its early-March outbreak, according to the latest report from the Washington State Department of Health.

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According to the report — done in partnership with Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling, Fred Hutch, and Microsoft — virus transmission is rising across “most of Washington state,” primarily among members of the population under the age of 40. In King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, the most affected age group has been between 20 and 29 years old. A similar trend has developed in Spokane County.

The seven-day average for daily cases in the Puget Sound region alone has grown from 93 in late June to 212 as of July 9. That comes with a “slight uptick in the test positive rate,” indicating that it’s not just increased testing which has led to the climb in cases.

That being so, hospitalizations have remained stable in King County, but have trended upward in Eastern Washington. Health officials also remain concerned about the possibility of the younger population spreading the virus to more at-risk demographics.

The rise in transmission rate has been consistent across Washington, as seen in the increasing effective reproductive rate (Re), a numerical representation of the number of people a single person with the virus will likely infect.

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Generally, an Re number under 1.0 indicates a threshold for declining transmission. Western Washington’s is estimated to be around 1.59. In Eastern Washington, the Re is roughly 1.20.

The report stresses the importance of continuing to adhere to mitigation strategies in order to avoid further growth in cases.

“It is crucial that current mitigation efforts be strictly maintained,” it concludes.

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