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Delta variant causing COVID cases to spread 'like wildfire,' WA health officials say

Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press file
Dr. John Corman, the chief clinical officer for Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, holds a sign that reads "Need Vaccine" to signal workers to bring him more doses as he works at vaccination clinic Jan. 24 at an Amazon facility in Seattle.

COVID-19 cases are “spreading like wildfire” among adults as well as children in Washington and state health officials said Friday they are extremely concerned.

The rapid acceleration in cases is demonstrating the delta variant’s potential to unravel the state’s hard-fought progress toward recovery, Department of Health officials said in a news release.

Unvaccinated people are being hit hardest, public health officials said, and they are again urging everyone who has not gotten fully vaccinated to do so immediately.

“Vaccination progress is continuing, but not fast enough,” state Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said. “If you are unvaccinated and continue to have questions, we encourage you to speak to a trusted health care provider.”

Prevalence is approaching levels seen in the winter 2020 surge, which means a lot of people are currently infected and may be spreading the virus, officials said.

Within the last 30 days, the majority of Washington's counties have seen substantial case increases, according to officials.

Pend Oreille, Douglas, Lincoln, Pacific, Chelan and Island counties have seen cases increase the most — more than 600% in the past 30 days, officials said.

King County has seen cases rise between 300-599%, along with Clallam, Stevens, Asotin, Whitman, Franklin, Spokane, Clark, Lewis and Pierce counties, officials said.

Adams, Thurston, Snohomish, Benton, Skamania, Whatcom, Skagit, Kitsap, Yakima, Cowlitz, Mason and Grant counties have seen cases increase between 100-299%.

The less than a dozen remaining counties have seen cases rise less than 100%, according to officials.

The state is also seeing daily case counts in the 3,000 range for the first time since the winter surge and the Department of Health is reporting 24 new deaths today, which is a significant increase from weeks ago.

Local health officials across the state on Thursday urged everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks in public indoor spaces such as grocery stores.

State health officials said Friday that everyone should reinstate all the key behaviors that keep the virus from spreading including mask wearing, distancing, frequent hand-washing and using hand sanitizer.

Officials also said people should keep gatherings small and outside and avoid any large outdoor gatherings such as concerts, fairs or festivals.

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