‘Signs of improvement’ for COVID in Washington, with concern for school-age kids

Oct 13, 2021, 2:58 PM | Updated: 3:22 pm
COVID, Washington...
A first grade student at the Green Mountain School listens to his teacher in Woodland, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Washington continues to take overflow patients from around the Northwest, but overall, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are dropping in the state.

Some areas, however, are still posting increases, including Spokane and Skagit counties.

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“We are seeing some signs of improvement, but disease remains high across the state,” said Lacy Fahrenbach, the state’s deputy secretary for COVID response.

“We’re encouraged that we’re going the right direction, but we have a long way to go to get through this delta wave,” she added, noting that cases are decreasing statewide and across all age groups.

The state Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair Shah, says unlike neighboring states — including Alaska, Idaho, and Montana — the strain on Washington’s hospitals from COVID patients is easing, and some federal assistance is starting to arrive after requests for help were answered.

“I want to be really clear that these resources are not going to solve the entirety of the challenges,” he noted on Wednesday.

“I do not see in the immediate future where we would have to utilize or implement crisis standards of care guidelines,” Shah added, which is in contrast to what’s happened in other nearby states.

That essentially means, Shah says, those neighboring states were having to make difficult decisions on who gets various life-saving therapeutics or other resources, like ventilators, but that is not the case in the state of Washington.

Washington’s COVID response team says the next hurdle will be seeing if children can get vaccinated before a possible surge in cases caused by colder weather and winter holidays.

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Unfortunately, COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and child care centers and hospitalizations among kids are on the rise in Washington right now. Dr. Scott Lindquist, the state’s acting chief science officer, says there have been 963 outbreaks in K-12 schools and child care between February 2020 and September 2021. He says over 4,500 COVID cases have been linked to those outbreaks.

“The summary here in the past two months are pediatric cases, and hospitalizations have risen to the highest point they’ve been since the beginning of this pandemic,” Lindquist said.

“The children in this 0-19 year age group have had more severe disease in the past two months than any other time during this pandemic,” he added.

So far, 13 children have died of COVID-19 in Washington since the start of the pandemic.

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‘Signs of improvement’ for COVID in Washington, with concern for school-age kids