Report: COVID transmission rate sees slight decline across Washington
The latest report from the Washington Department of Health points to encouraging trends for the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response.
Transmission rates in both Eastern and Western Washington have declined since the DOH’s previous report (compiled as part of joint effort in tandem with Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modeling and Fred Hutchinson).
In Western Washington, the effective reproductive rate — the number of people a single person with the virus will likely infect — was approximately 1.54 on July 17. As of July 23, that number had decreased to 1.16. Eastern Washington saw a decrease from 1.41 to 1.19 in that same period. Generally, an effective reproductive number below 1.0 is the benchmark for success in limiting transmission of the virus.
“While the trend in new cases continues to rise in many counties, there may be recent decreases or plateaus in King, Spokane, Clark, and Franklin counties; this hopefully reflects improved adherence to masking and distancing guidelines,” reads the DOH’s latest report, published last Friday.
The DOH also cautions that it “cannot entirely rule out impacts from delays in testing” as one of the reasons behind decreases in new cases, and that it “recommend[s] caution when interpreting downwards or flattening trends in recent cases in some counties.”
Demographically, new cases appear to be spurred by a recent concentration in young adults with “increasing burden detected in older adults and children.”
On Thursday, Gov. Inslee also noted that the state’s COVID-19 response is “seeing some evidence of success,” while “widespread facial coverings are becoming the norm.”
“Better days are ahead,” he said. “We’re in a bit of a lifeboat right now, but we’re all going to get to that shore.”
That being so, deaths in Western Washington appear to increasing for the first time since March, according to the DOH, and the department continues to stress the need to adhere to masking and physical distancing policies in order to continue suppressing the spread of the virus in the days ahead.