COVID-19 death rate declining in Washington, other health data still needs improvement

SPOKANE, Wash. — COVID-19 is infecting people at a record pace in Washington.

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Here in Spokane County, more than 800 people have contracted the virus in just the last 10 days, but a reason for hope comes with the state’s death rate for the virus.

About 3 percent of people in Washington infected with COVID-19 have died. But, the good news is that rate is declining, as shown on the 7 day rolling average.

Near the end of March and beginning of April, Washington’s 7 day rolling average for deaths was around 30. Now, it’s back under 10, like it was before the virus peaked.

Other health data isn’t as optimisitc.

More than 40,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Spokane County, but about 6.5 percent of those have come back positive. Health officials saythat’s too high, hoping to get the number closer to two percent.

On the other hand, there is also a major back log in testing right now.

Some people are waiting at least ten days for results while others are also waiting days to hear from contact tracers.

“Our metric is to reach folks within 24 hours, and right now we’re hitting about 80 percent of those that are assigned to us specifically,” Steve Smith of Spokane Regional Health said.

Another piece of data to keep an eye on is the “R” Number, also known as “R naught,” which shows us how the virus is spreading.

Washington Department of Health’s latest data shows Spokane County’s R number is sitting around 1.5, which means each person with COVID-19 is infecting at least one and a half more people on average.

Yakima County had a similar R Number at the start of July, but health officials said that has now gone below one.

They credit that drop to 95 -percent mask usage in the county.