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Uptick in King County positive cases tempers Seattle’s vaccination progress and Phase 3 enthusiasm

Enthusiasm about Seattle’s progress on vaccination and move to a new phase of reopening including more room for sit-down dining after a year of COVID-19 restrictions is being tempered by an uptick in new positive cases in King County.

The health department’s latest tallies show a rise to around 187 new positive cases per day over the past week in King County — up just under 30% over recent levels. Hospitalized cases and deaths that had mostly leveled off after peaking again in winter haven’t yet started to climb but could tail the positive case uptick. Currently, around six people per day are hospitalized with COVID-19 complications and the county is averaging two daily deaths over the past week. 1,456 have died here since the start of the pandemic.

“Even as more opens up, we need to proceed with caution,” King County Public Health Tweeted this week. “We are already seeing an uptick in cases. Wear a mask, keep gatherings small, and stay outdoors when possible.”

Monday, Seattle and King County joined the entire state in moving to Phase 3 of reopening including a further reopening of Washington’s economy and loosening of restrictions on large gatherings including professional and youth sports and “other outdoor spectator events.” Restaurants can now serve indoor diners at 50% capacity.

Large counties like King County with more than 50,000 residents must maintain a 14-day average of new COVID cases at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, and a seven-day average of new hospitalizations per 100,000 at five or fewer to remain in Phase 3.

The county currently is measuring a positive rate of around 104 per 100,000 and its hospitalization rate is considered “flat/decreasing.”

The eligibility for vaccination is also being expanded though supplies still can’t keep up with demand — a situation the White House says will improve by May. Washington residents 60 to 64 and those experiencing homelessness that live in or access services at shelters and congregate settings will also be eligible. Restaurant workers have also joined the ranks of the essential workers who formally qualify for COVID-19 vaccination.

Seattle officials say efforts to reach vulnerable residents including communities of color have been successful here with around 70% of those 65 years old and older in all parts of the city receiving at least one shot of vaccine. Despite efforts to reach the communities, People of Color groups continue to lag the county’s white population in the rate of vaccination.

King County reports that 31% of its 16+ population has now received at least one dose with more than 18% fully vaccinated.


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JaneP
JaneP
18 days ago

According to this chart our COVID positive rates are higher for any period before November. So how is it something to celebrate? The rates were so high before everybody had to work from home and stay at home but now that’s not the case any more? Even though the rates are the same as they were when we did?

Megan
Megan
18 days ago
Reply to  JaneP

Yeah, that level and climbing even with the amount who have been vaccinated.

Seattle Resident
Seattle Resident
18 days ago
Reply to  JaneP

My guess is Inslee is watching what is happening in CA and doesn’t want to be impeached by nutjobs on the right. Our state had 1st outbreak and it is because we all hunkered down, that we never had a big breakout. We are so close to having most of our state immunized. Please do not go to Phase 3!!!

dre
dre
17 days ago
Reply to  JaneP

I do think there is cause for concern and that is shared by quite a few people, although many people around here are starting to let their guard down. Even very rational people think we are nearing the end of the pandemic due to the vaccine rollout, but unfortunately little is known about the effect on variants and breakthrough infections. It’s likely that surges will continue as the variants mutate and people tire of restrictions.

Who wants to guess how long we’ll stay in Phase 3 before reverting? If you think we’re going to Phase 4, I want your optimism or naivety.

John Whittier Treat
John Whittier Treat
17 days ago

We’re going to blow it, aren’t we? You mf just couldn’t wait, could you.

slider292
slider292
17 days ago

I’m not surprised, given the increasing number of small groups (3-6) of twenty-somethings entering my building in the evenings. At least the death toll and hospitalizations appear to remain very low in King Co.

Anoninseattle
Anoninseattle
17 days ago

But, how are our hospitals doing? Are we having a substantial uptick in hospitalizations? Sounds like no, it’s flat or going down.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m continuing to hunker down and don’t plan to return to indoor dining any time soon, but I will feel better if I knew that even if case rates were going up, the people getting sick now by and large aren’t those that will flood our hospitals and put more stress on the healthcare system, because those at most risk of severe illness or dying have been protected by vaccination now.

Gov's A Joke
Gov's A Joke
17 days ago
Reply to  Anoninseattle

Lol. I have severe respiratory effects, three weeks of Covid hell so far, and I have asthma. Zilch for vaccine priority for those with lung disorders.

Too late.

Rachel
Rachel
17 days ago

Some restaurants in the neighborhood have appeared to be at way more than 50% capacity indoors even prior to Phase 3. I wonder how much effort is going into enforcement of these rules.

Don't Panic
Don't Panic
17 days ago

The relationship between cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has been getting more favorable throughout the pandemic, due to better treatments and better protections for the elderly. That is a big reason why the November-January surge did not overwhelm the hospitals, even though the case counts were far higher than they were last April.

We should expect that vaccination progress will start preventing future surges in hospitalizations and deaths, before it starts preventing future surges in cases.

Inslee is willing to go to Phase 3 because surges in case counts are getting much less likely to lead to major surges in hospitalizations and deaths, due to the vaccine.