COVID-19 vaccine relief is on the way, but dangers still loom

OLYMPIA, Wash. — As COVID-19 surges and hospitals are strained throughout the region and country, there could be some relief in the coming weeks.

After a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine will be coming in the next couple of weeks, providing a bit of relief in the short term.

With Thanksgiving over, the wait begins to see if the holiday proves to be a superspreader.

“That’s going to take us like 10 days or so after Thanksgiving to start seeing those signals in our data,” said Secretary of Health, John Wiesman.

It can take 5-7 days for people to develop symptoms, and the state is still concerned with the amount of people that are in the hospitals with COVID-19.

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“We just need everybody to continue to really pay close attention to wearing their face coverings, keeping their distance, not having social gatherings,” said Wiesman.

In Spokane, Sacred Heart Medical Center is treating a high number of patients with COVID-19 and the staffing is tight. They are concerned about a spike after Thanksgiving, as well. Inslee said it is imperative to follow the health guidance in the weeks and months to come even after Thanksgiving.

“It is just as imperative to avoid a celebration of a football game with a bunch of folks sitting around next to each other not in the same household… not wearing masks,” said Inslee. “That is just as dangerous as Thanksgiving dinner.”

While there is still a high concern for COVID-19 in the state, Inslee said there is no imminent plan to put into restrictions like the ones seen in parts of California — which include a limited stay-home order and a quarantine time for visitors.

Even with vaccines on the way, experts say it will take between 60%-70% of the population to get vaccinated to stop outbreaks and that will take months.