How new ‘mini wave’ of COVID cases in King County is different from past surges

Apr 8, 2022, 8:28 AM

COVID, Seattle, Pike Place...

Seattle's Pike Place Market. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

As mask mandates have faded away and many having returned to pre-pandemic routines, COVID-19 cases have begun to tick back up again.

UW researchers: ‘The pandemic phase of COVID-19 is gone’

In King County, COVID cases have risen by 41% over the seven-day period ending on April 2, albeit with hospitalizations largely remaining unchanged. And as University of Washington Virology head Dr. Keith Jerome notes, there’s a strong chance that case counts could be even higher than what’s being reported.

“I think we’re having a mini wave, or the beginnings of a wave, I don’t know where it’s going to go,” he told KIRO Newsradio’s Dave Ross. “I’ll say this is, there’s probably more COVID out there than we realize because people are doing the tests at home now.”

With public testing sites have scaled back, a large portion of people are performing their own at-home rapid tests, which don’t get reported to local health agencies. For the cases that are getting reported, labs like UW Virology where roughly 2-4% of samples were coming up positive months ago are now seeing that rate rise up over 10%.

Unlike past surges, though, there are factors at play now that could mitigate the severity of the virus as it continues to spread.

“It’s partially about the virus, but it’s also about us,” Dr. Jerome described. “Have we had COVID before? What’s the medical care like? We have a vaccine. Those are generally factors in our favor.”

Europe’s omicron surge ‘totally different’ than what’s expected in Washington

“Hopefully, what we’ll see is that there are more cases, more illness, and then people say, ‘Wow, that was a bad cold,’ or, ‘I missed a couple of days at work,’ or something,” he continued. “And that’s the majority of what we see.”

Looking toward the future, Jerome also notes that collectively we “need to get to the idea that this virus is going to be out there forever.”

“We as a scientific enterprise, as humanity, have eradicated one virus, and that’s smallpox, with a just Herculean global effort,” he explained. “That was kind of the perfect virus to be able to eradicate; this one’s going to be here, and we’re going have to learn to live with it.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave Ross

supreme court pro-life...

Dave Ross

Ross: Supreme Court rules against pro-life challenge, so what’s next for the Christian Nationalists?

The Supreme Court last week unanimously turned down the pro-life challenge to the FDA’s decision to make Mifepristone widely available.

2 days ago

luxury lane toll...

Dave Ross

Ross: Let the rich pay the exorbitant ‘luxury lane’ toll prices

The new higher tolls for solo drivers in the luxury lane are hitting the $15 maximum every rush hour, all to save exactly three minutes of driving.

9 days ago

trump belltown hellcat...

Dave Ross

Ross: If popularity creates immunity, maybe the ‘Belltown Hellcat Bandit’ should run for president

A lot of completely normal Americans believe Trump should have gone free, and he probably will because of his popularity.

16 days ago

forever chemicals living defensively...

Dave Ross

Ross: Living defensively has its limits when facing ‘forever chemicals’

The trouble is that "living defensively" has its limits – as we heard when 3M lost control of its "forever chemicals."

27 days ago

Image: In this photo illustration, the logos of social media applications Instagram, Facebook, Link...

Dave Ross

Ross: If you hope the government will save kids from social media, think again

Social media firm TikTok must sell itself to a non-Chinese company, or it goes dark in the U.S. But that law is headed straight to court.

30 days ago

kristi noem book...

Dave Ross

Ross: Gov. Kristi Noem’s new book includes alleged meetings with dictators, dead dogs

Did South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as she claims in her new book?

1 month ago

How new ‘mini wave’ of COVID cases in King County is different from past surges