Future of pandemic in King County remains uncertain in months to come

Aug 30, 2021, 8:53 AM | Updated: 10:56 am
vaccine, incentives, booster, King County...
A pharmacist waits for patients at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on the UW campus on May 18, 2021, in Seattle. The two-day clinic offered newly-vaccinated patients a free Dick's Drive-In burger when they left. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at the highest level they’ve ever been over the course of the pandemic in Washington, local health officials remain uncertain as to what the path ahead may look like in terms of fully quelling the virus.

Delta variant could start ‘running out of people to infect’ by end of year

Following a surge in cases brought on by the highly-infectious delta variant, cases in King County have begun to plateau, according to health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin. That has him “cautiously optimistic,” albeit with a few caveats.

“I don’t think this is going to be the end of COVID-19 for us even if we get over this hump,” he said in a recent briefing. “I can’t tell you with certainty whether our plateau in cases is going to be sustained — it’s certainly at an unacceptably high level of disease transmission currently.”

Moving forward, he cites a combination of factors that make the situation difficult to predict. That includes the imminent return of students to in-person learning, upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a winter season that will drive people back indoors.

Combined with the fact that nearly half of the state’s total population remains unvaccinated, Duchin warns of the potential for additional fluctuations in COVID transmission.

“I’m very concerned that we may see progressive surges, peaks, declines, and then further surges,” he noted. “We’ve got future opportunities for people to gather, and until more of us are vaccinated we won’t be in the clear enough to fully relax.”

What you need to know about Washington’s new mask mandate

Given that, he once again emphasized the need for people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, pointing to massive increases in cases and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated population, both in King County and statewide.

Between early April and mid-August, the age-adjusted daily rate of hospitalized COVID-19 cases in King County increased from 1.0 to 7.3 among the unvaccinated. Among those who were fully vaccinated, that rate saw no appreciable increase over that period.

Should vaccinations not increase enough to stem the tide, Duchin isn’t ruling out a return to virtual learning for students.

“I think it’s important to understand the uncertainty around what we may experience once children come back to school,” he cautioned. “This really emphasizes the need to take all protective measures, and to be prepared if necessary to go back to remote learning if we find out that there’s too much transmission in a school setting.”

Local News

Kathryn Altena

King County Board of Health delays vote to repeal bike helmet law

After a public hearing on a proposed repeal of King County's bike helmet law, the county board of health decided to delay their vote.
18 hours ago
jim walsh, washington lawmaker...
Heather Bosch

Washington lawmaker is locked out of capitol over COVID vaccine mandate

A Washington state lawmaker says he's been locked out of the state capitol in Olympia over the COVID vaccine mandate.
18 hours ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Sammamish scores top spot on list of best small US cities to live in

A new list has crowned Sammamish, Washington, the nation's best small city to live in, marking the latest in a string of recent accolades.
18 hours ago
world cup...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Seattle among cities competing for hosting duties in 2026 World Cup

Starting Thursday, World Cup officials will tour cities across the United States, including Seattle, to determine which venues will host games in 2026.
18 hours ago
Seattle fundraising...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral race fundraising hits highest total in nearly two decades of available data

With just a few weeks to go until ballots are due, Seattle's two mayoral candidates have reached record fundraising heights.
18 hours ago
Seattle council debate...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle council candidates get chance to question each other in Wednesday debate

Candidates for Seattle's Position 9 City Council seat squared off in a debate hosted by Rainier Avenue Radio and Converge Media on Wednesday.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Future of pandemic in King County remains uncertain in months to come