Washington health officials see hopeful COVID signs

Image Credit: SE Washington Interagency Team
Dr. Umair Shah visits the Benton County Fairgrounds in Kennewick, Washington on Tuesday, February 9, 2021.

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington health officials say they are seeing signs of hope in the COVID-19 case and hospitalization data and also now expect more consistent vaccine allocations from the federal government.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said all of the state’s counties will remain in their current phase of the state’s economic reopening plan and won’t face more restrictions because new COVID cases are leveling off after a recent spike.

“We are balancing reopening, we are balancing vaccinations, we are balancing this race against time and we are balancing COVID fatigue,” Dr. Umair Shah, the state’s health secretary, said in a Department of Health briefing Wednesday.

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The Seattle Times reports that Shah said modeling as of April 16 showed that immunity from vaccines has lowered transmission, but COVID transmission was still increasing. Daily case counts averaged about 1,300 cases in late April, which is higher than counts during the second wave over the past summer.

Hospitalizations are also up; however, those who are being hospitalized tend to be younger and have shorter stays than those previously hospitalized, said Dr. Scott Lindquist, acting state health officer.

More than 50% of eligible Washington residents have received at least a first dose of the vaccine, and about 39% of eligible residents — about 2.4 million people — are fully vaccinated.

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The state will receive nearly 400,000 doses of vaccine next week, with nearly 220,000 doses of Pfizer, 160,000 Moderna doses and 17,000 of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

For the first time, Acting Assistant Health Secretary Michele Roberts said, the allocation forecast from the federal government shows the state receiving about the same amount every week through the end of the month, which helps with planning and scheduling.


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