October 25, 2021

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Coronavirus In Washington: The Week In Review

SEATTLE — The first full week of 2021 was full of developments for Washington’s coronavirus response, including the announcement of new vaccine eligibility tiers and a path forward for reopening the state using new metrics.

During the weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday, state health officials highlighted positive trends in case counts and hospitalization rates, noting that the state’s third wave in illnesses appears to have peaked. However, the number of new illnesses trended upward over the last week in some areas, including the state’s largest counties.

While the flattening of the curve and overall downward trends are positive news, officials said the state remains in a tenuous position as figures remain well above target levels. As of Thursday, at least 1,064 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illnesses were hospitalized across the state, with 118 ventilated.

The Washington State Department of Health on Friday reported more than 4,800 new coronavirus infections and added 65 deaths to its official tally.

Across the United States, the situation remains dire, with another daily case record set Friday and at least 16 states reporting their highest hospitalization figures to date.

In Seattle, Public Health – Seattle & King County recorded 180 cases Friday, with 1,704 positive tests, 69 hospitalizations and 18 deaths resulting from the coronavirus over the past two weeks. The city’s 14-day testing positivity rate sits at 9.6 percent. The rate of cases in the state’s most populous county has dropped to 281 per 100,000 residents over two weeks, a figure that is still more than 11 times the goal range.

Catch up on this week’s coronavirus headlines:

Washington activates new reopening guidelines Monday, but no regions qualify to move forward yet

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a new approach to reopening the state by region, using updated guidelines for case counts, hospital admissions and test positivity rates. The “Healthy Washington” initiative replaces the Safe Start plan, where each county was categorized among four phases.

Under the new standard, Washington is sorted into eight regions, including Puget Sound, which groups Snohomish, King and Pierce counties together.

(Office of the Governor)
(Office of the Governor)

For each region to move to Phase 2, they must meet the following metrics:

  • A 10 percent decline in COVID-19 case rates over the past two weeks

  • A 10 percent decrease in COVID-19 hospital admission over the past two weeks

  • An ICU occupancy under 90 percent

  • Test positivity of less than 10 percent

State health officials announced Friday that none of the regions will qualify to begin the second phase when the new rules take effect Monday, but even the first phase will allow for a few more activities, including the return of some live entertainment and other recreation.

(Washington State Department of Health)
(Washington State Department of Health)

Once a region qualifies for Phase 2, businesses can resume some indoor dining and entertainment, along with sporting events with a maximum of 200 spectators.

(Washington State Department of Health)
(Washington State Department of Health)

Learn more about the Healthy Washington plan on the governor’s blog.

We now know what groups will qualify for vaccines through April

Another major announcement this week included Washington’s plan to vaccinate more people in the weeks and months to come. Right now, the state remains in Phase 1A, which limits eligibility to workers in healthcare settings, frontline first responders, and workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Phase 1B will include four tiers, with the first expanding eligibility to include all people ages 70 and older, along with those 50 or older who live in multigenerational households. The state is still determining a timeline for when the next phase will activate.

Here is what to expect through April:

(Washington State Department of Health)
(Washington State Department of Health)

The Washington State Department of Health said on Friday that more than 466,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were distributed across the state, and more than 150,000 Washingtonians have received their first shots.

Read more: Washington’s Next Coronavirus Vaccine Phase: Here’s What To Know

Seattle Public Schools superintendent calls for vaccine prioritization for educators

As more school districts unveil plans to return to the classrooms, the outgoing superintendent of Seattle Public Schools is calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to place educators and other school staff in a higher prioritization bracket for vaccines.

Under relaxed guidelines from the state, which encourage returning younger students to the classroom, some of the state’s largest districts are preparing to resume in-person instruction, including Seattle and the Lake Washington School District.

In a letter sent to Inslee, the state Secretary of Health and the health officer for King County, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau asked that all staff returning to school in March be allowed to receive the vaccine under the first tier of Phase 1B.

“Prioritizing vaccinations for public educators and critical support staff will send a strong message of the state’s commitment to public education and care for our public educators in a time when so much is uncertain,” Juneau wrote. “This action will help build trust in our collective commitment to recovery.”

Total coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths by county:

Editors note: Patch is now updating these totals on a weekly, rather than daily, basis. Readers should keep in mind that the increases below represent infections, hospitalizations and deaths over a seven-day period.

The latest figures include only data reported by Jan. 7, 2021.

County

Confirmed Cases

Hospitalizations

Deaths

Adams

1,675 (+48)

86

16

Asotin

1,018 (+59)

48 (+3)

18

Benton

12,582 (+890)

658 (+27)

167 (+3)

Chelan

5,163 (+312)

219 (+12)

38 (+3)

Clallam

770 (+57)

27

4

Clark

14,846 (+1,502)

784 (+60)

159 (+13)

Columbia

89 (+5)

14 (+1)

4

Cowlitz

2,696 (+281)

136 (+11)

33 (+4)

Douglas

2,774 (+177)

108 (+4)

15

Ferry

186 (+10)

11 (+1)

2

Franklin

9,267 (+495)

466 (+3)

86 (+3)

Garfield

98 (+3)

12

2

Grant

6,313 (+332)

293 (+20)

50 (+5)

Grays Harbor

2,527 (+307)

117 (+7)

27 (+1)

Island

1,012 (+88)

63 (+2)

22

Jefferson

252 (+32)

22 (+5)

2 (+1)

King

67,932 (+5,352)

4,385 (+223)

1,105 (+55)

Kitsap

3,887 (+384)

223 (+12)

49 (+9)

Kittitas

1,847 (+159)

49 (+5)

30 (+4)

Klickitat

529 (+53)

22 (+2)

3

Lewis

2,677 (+232)

165 (+13)

34 (+3)

Lincoln

274 (+24)

15

5

Mason

1,750 (+258)

56 (+3)

16

Okanogan

1,851 (+94)

111 (+4)

30 (+1)

Pacific

570 (+28)

20

6 (+1)

Pend Oreille

494 (+41)

33 (+2)

4

Pierce

28,427 (+2,563)

2,046 (+125)

387 (+39)

San Juan

83 (+9)

4

0

Skagit

3,526 (+227)

203 (+9)

43 (+3)

Skamania

209 (+19)

7

1

Snohomish

24,382 (+1,989)

1,672 (+66)

419 (+29)

Spokane

28,247 (+2,666)

1,479 (+94)

379 (+30)

Stevens

1,260 (+78)

69 (+2)

18 (+1)

Thurston

5,261 (+495)

319 (+11)

58 (+2)

Wahkiakum

56 (+8)

1

0

Walla Walla

3,699 (+181)

197 (+10)

40 (+5)

Whatcom

4,066 (+588)

201 (+18)

56 (+1)

Whitman

2,899 (+116)

74 (+8)

33 (+6)

Yakima

21,467 (+1,623)

1,127 (+46)

334 (+17)

Unassigned

1,562 (+73)

15

4 (-1)

Total

268,607 (+21,855)

15,557 (+809)

3,699 (+238)

The above numbers are provided by the state Department of Health, and some numbers differ from the totals provided separately by county health agencies.

This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch

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