King County COVID cases soar by nearly 200% over holiday weekend, hit record levels

Dec 28, 2021, 8:32 AM | Updated: 11:14 am

King County COVID surge...

A sign for a King County (Wash.) Public Health COVID-19 vaccination clinic located at the Tukwila Village Farmers Market. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

COVID-19 case numbers skyrocketed in King County over the holiday weekend, hitting their highest levels over the course of the entire pandemic, dating back to March 2020.

Washington sees ‘rapid rise’ of omicron variant cases leading into holiday season

According to King County’s COVID-19 dashboard, the region has experienced a 195% increase in new cases over the last seven days, as well as a 58% increase in hospitalizations. The county also saw its highest ever case count for a single day at over 2,200 on Dec. 23, besting the previous high of 1,207 cases on Nov. 30, 2020.

Seattle-King County Public Health also told the Seattle Times that these totals likely represent an undercount.

The Washington State Department of Health reports similarly high numbers statewide, after identifying over 6,200 new cases last Friday. That number represents a single-day record for the pandemic, while setting up a surge likely to surpass what the state experienced this last fall.

As for how long this will last, Fred Hutchinson scientist Dr. Trevor Bedford points to data from Gauteng, South Africa, and London, indicating that the timeframe could be shorter than past surges. While omicron-fueled surges in Gauteng and London resulted in immediate, rapid rises in cases, numbers quickly began to plateau in both cities.

Emerging omicron variant ‘does not change our approach to fighting pandemic’

“Estimates suggested the potential for a very large wave in terms of cases [in Gauteng],” Bedford said on Twitter. “However, this wave did not manifest in Gauteng, South Africa, to the degree expected with peak case loads of the Omicron wave similar to the previous Delta wave.”

“We’re now seeing a similar trend in London with rapid initial rise in case counts, but a seemingly faster crest than predicted,” he added.

That said, Bedford also pointed out that “predicting when a wave will crest ahead of observing slowing in case growth is very difficult,” making King County and Washington’s own situations fluid for the time being.

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