Health officer: King County ‘at very high risk’ of rolling back to Phase 2

Apr 25, 2021, 8:00 AM | Updated: Apr 26, 2021, 6:09 am
T-Mobile Park, COVID-19...
A sign in T-Mobile Park reminds fans of the COVID-19 safety rules. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

King County continues to trend towards a Phase 2 rollback when the state evaluates data on May 3, with case rates and hospitalizations climbing across the region.

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

In order to remain in Phase 3 of reopening, large counties must maintain a case rate under 200 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days, and under 5 hospitalizations per 100,000 over seven days. As of Thursday, King County is sitting at over 213 new cases per 100,000 and 4.9 hospitalizations.

“Our current metrics put us at a very high risk of rolling back to Phase 2,” King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in his weekly briefing on Friday.

Duchin estimates that one person is now being hospitalized for COVID-19 every hour and 24 minutes in King County, and that since the county entered into Phase 3 on March 22, cases and hospitalizations have risen by 70% and 75%, respectively.

“As of today, this surge has continued to grow, despite the precautions we’re currently taking as a community,” he cautioned.

King County hovering just below Phase 3 threshold

More troublingly, hospitalizations are rising in younger demographics, indicated by the fact that over the last week, more people 20-29 years old were hospitalized in King County than people over 70. Meanwhile, 8% of the county’s COVID-related deaths in the last 28 days have come from the 25-49 year-old age group. Over the entire course of the pandemic, residents in that demographic make up just 2.5% of total COVID deaths.

Duchin believes recent rises are due to the opening of up of more activities, increased prominence of more infectious variant strains, and large, unmasked private gatherings. He went on to note that the risk of COVID continues to be greatest indoors “in crowded settings where people are not wearing masks,” particularly when not wearing a mask during loud speaking, exercise, and singing.

That said, the county continues to make progress with vaccinations, with 57% of adults having received one or more doses, and 37% now fully vaccinated.

“The threat from this variant driven outbreak remains real, and we need not only to continue, but strengthen our actions against COVID-19 in the coming weeks,” Duchin advised.

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Health officer: King County ‘at very high risk’ of rolling back to Phase 2