As holidays approach, Dept. of Health warns that people should stop socializing to flatten the curve

OLYMPIA, Wash. — As the holiday season approaches, the State Department of Health is urging Washingtonians to avoid socializing.

The request comes as the state grapples with rising coronavirus case numbers and hospitalization rates.

During an emergency media briefing on Tuesday, Secretary of Health John Wiesman said immediate action must be taken now to flatten the curve.

“The most serious consequences are yet to come from this virus, and if we don’t act, those can be severe,” Wiesman said.

He said if people do not strictly follow safety protocols, like social distancing and wearing a mask, then those consequences could include economic tolls.

The state warned of a “fall surge” but State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said the trend has not gone down. Cases began to increase in early September, continued in October and there has been an accelerate growth in the past two weeks.

She said these are the highest numbers of cases the state has seen since the start of the pandemic and case counts are still accelerating.

Lofy said hospitalizations have been increasing on both sides of the state, though primarily in western Washington. She noted that people of all ages are finding themselves in the hospital, including children being treated in ICUs.

She said this could soon overwhelm the hospital system is action is not taken.

“We should stop socializing for the next few weeks to slow down the disease,” Lofy said.

Health experts said people should avoid gathering with people outside of their household and are urging a different Thanksgiving celebration this year. If Washingtonians are seeing people from outside of their home, they should quarantine for two weeks before and consider gathering outside.

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