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Washington boasts one of the lowest coronavirus rates in the US

Buttons sit on a table ready to be handed to the first volunteers receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at UW Medicine, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington state is ranked in the top five for the lowest coronavirus rates in the nation.

“We are 46 down the line,” said Dr. Francis Riedo at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland on Monday. “There are only a small number of states that are doing a little bit better than us.”

Dr. Riedo specializes in infectious diseases at the hospital, which saw coronavirus patients early in the pandemic. Many patients arrived to the Kirkland area hospital from nearby Life Care Center, a nursing home considered to be one of the first epicenters in the United States.

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Dr. Riedo says the ranking is determined by the number of cases per 100,000 residents.

He says comparing Washington’s case rates to other state indicates to him that the precautions being taken in Washington are working, and need to continue until there’s a significant drop in new positives.

“I think it’s a tribune that we’re doing as well as we are,” the doctor said. “Can we do better? You bet. And we need to do better for just a bit more until we get this under control.”

Riedo says hospitalization rates in Washington are close to the highest numbers ever, and many medical service providers are already struggling with having enough people who can report to work. But better treatment means more people are surviving COVID-19.

In fact, the New York Times’ ICU tracker indicates there’s an average 71% occupancy rate at hospitals in Washington state. That number is higher in populated cities like Seattle.

Riedo believes vaccines are still the best hope for getting the pandemic under control.

Washington state is expected to receive more than 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. That includes 57,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 44,000 doses from Moderna. So far, more than 30,000 doses have been administered statewide.

KIRO Radio’s Diane Duthweiler contributed to this report.

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