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County health officer says COVID-19 cases are increasing across retail, youth sports, travel

People arrive to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine during opening day of the Community Vaccination Site, a collaboration between the City of Seattle, First & Goal Inc., and Swedish Health Services at the Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle, Washington on March 13, 2021. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

While cases are dropping in long-term care facilities across King County, Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, says they’re seeing increases elsewhere.

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Duchin explained in his weekly address on Friday that there’s an increase in cases at child care and K-12 schools settings to less than 2% in January to 5% over the last three weeks.

“We’ve also seen eight outbreaks associated with youth sport leagues in the last eight weeks,” he said, adding that those teams reported taking the precautions during games and practices.

However, there have been risks and opportunity for transmission during travel to and from games, practices, and tournaments, and during communal meals and socializing that happen before and after.

Duchin said they’re also seeing outbreaks linked with non-health care employment settings.

“Over the past eight weeks, there’s been a 16% increase in outbreaks across non-health care work sites, and these include manufacturing, retail, delivery, hospitality, and other businesses,” he said.

Duchin said that almost 40% of those cases reported going to work over the last month. That’s jumped from 30% in January.

There’s also been an increase in cases associated with social and community events.

“Nearly 30% of cases reported attending events family visits, group meals, parties and weddings during their exposure period,” Duchin said. “That’s up 10% from 20% in January.”

About 11% of the cases reported had attended bars and restaurants, which is up 5% from January. Ten percent of the cases reported visiting retail establishments, which is also up from 5% in January.

Duchin said the number of cases associated with travel has doubled in the past four weeks — 4-6% in January to 8-11% currently. That includes people returning from spring break travel.

While travel isn’t recommended, Duchin reminds people to get tested beforehand, 3-5 days upon your return, and avoid other people for 7 days afterward. If you don’t get tested, quarantine for 10 days.

Duchin said to remember that about 30% of cases don’t report contact with someone who knowingly has COVID-19, and up to 50% of cases spread before people report experiencing symptoms or know they’re ill.

“It’s important to remain vigilant and take precautions,” Duchin said.

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