A recent flare-up in new COVID-19 cases has state health officials worried. (Getty Images)
While many counties in Washington are continuing to relax social distancing measures, the state Department of Health remains concerned about a recent increase in new COVID-19 cases.
“The situation in eastern Washington is of greatest concern, particularly in Benton, Franklin, Spokane, and Yakima counties,” the DOH said in its latest update. “If COVID-19 continues to spread at its current rate, we will soon see large increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in these areas.”
According to the latest data collected by the state, those Eastern Washington counties “are in a comparable position to King County at its peak in March.” In Western Washington, the DOH warns that the virus “may be spreading more once again” as well.
It’s unclear where exactly this latest flare-up began, but the DOH theorizes the culprit could be Memorial Day celebrations and travel that took place during that period. It also noted that the time frame for this increase in cases does not include recent protests over the death of George Floyd.
The DOH detailed a series of benchmarks it would like to see the state hit in order to keep its COVID-19 outbreak under control. Those benchmarks include:
- Fewer than 25 people diagnosed with COVID-19 for every 100,000 people over the last two weeks
- Fifty negative tests for every person who tests positive for COVID-19 (essentially having positive COVID-19 tests at or below 2%)
- Under 80% capacity in hospitals to manage any potential surge
Washington state has yet to achieve two out of those three goals: For every 100,000 people, there were 48.4 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last two weeks, 5.1% of COVID-19 tests were positive last week, and combined, hospital beds are 65.5% filled.
As of late Sunday, the DOH reported 25,834 total people have tested positive for coronavirus statewide, with 1,217 deaths.