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State DOH: Close to ‘turning the corner’ on COVID-19, but seeing start of fourth wave

A sign in T-Mobile Park reminds fans of the COVID-19 safety rules. (MyNorthwest photo)

While there have been increasing vaccinations across Washington state, cases and hospitalizations in nearly all age groups are also on the rise.

Health officer: Snohomish County ‘in serious jeopardy’ of rolling back to Phase 2

In a weekly briefing with officials from the Washington State Department of Health, the state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said the majority of counties are seeing increased COVID-19 cases and more variants. Case rates are increasing in all age groups except those age 70 and older, and hospitalizations rates are also increasing in all age groups, with the sharpest increase in younger adults.

“We are close to turning the corner in the state of Washington, but we are seeing the beginning of a fourth wave,” Dr. Shah said.

“People need to hang on longer,” he added. “We know the weather is improving, we know people are going outside, we know vaccines are making a difference — our data are showing that — but we need people to hang on.”

Dr. Shah emphasized that the state is seeing progress, and vaccinations are working.

“The road ahead is strong, we’re going to get there,” he said, adding that he believes all Washingtonians know what to do to protect themselves, those around them, and their communities.

The difficulty is making sure we all remember those actions, he says, and taking them into account every day with every single action we take.

“Until we have more people vaccinated, we are still vulnerable,” Shah said.

What to expect with Washington vaccine eligibility open to all

As part of the briefing, Dr. Shah shared that the state is setting a new goal of 90,000 vaccine doses administered per day. The previous goal set in winter was 45,000 daily doses, which has since been reached and topped. Shah says when the goal of 45,000 was made, the state was administering about 12-13,000 doses. Now, the number of daily doses given statewide averages at about 50-60,000.

Part of reaching the goal of 90,000 doses per day will depend on supply, which Dr. Shah says is still an issue, but the state does have the capacity to administer more doses if and when supply ramps up.

For now, he says we have two very safe, very effective vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — and officials are verifying the safety of the third, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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