Vaccines open to all Washingtonians 16+ as health officials warn of 4th wave

Washington

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state’s Secretary of Health said a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations suggest Washington is entering into a 4th wave of the pandemic.

On Thursday, around 1.5 million residents will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as the state opened eligibility to everyone 16 and older.

“We’re concerned that we’re starting to see potentially the beginning of a 4th wave,” Dr. Umair Shah said during a press briefing Wednesday. “It’s hard to know but we really recognize that whatever progress we have made from the third wave appears to have plateaued and we’re moving in a direction that’s concerning to us.”

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Dr. Shah said this increasing trend is happening in the “majority” of counties statewide, KOMO-TV reported.

“We’ve seen sharp increases amongst younger age groups, especially those in the teens to their 40’s and 50’s,” Shah said.

The state reported a seven-day average of 1,070 cases on April 10, which is about the number of confirmed cases at the beginning of November when the state saw the start of its third wave.

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“The vaccine is clearly a great strategy, but the behaviors have turned all these waves around previously, so it can be done with this one also,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington’s state health officer.

Masking up, avoiding unnecessary travel and getting vaccinated are the best ways to stomp down this rise in cases, Lindquist said.

“It’s a delicate time for all of us because we know the wave is starting to come back and we don’t want that to happen,” said Dr. Shah.

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