DOH says small changes needed to avoid statewide COVID-19 spike, according to situation report

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Department of Health’s latest situation report shows that, while the state’s COVID-19 cases are falling overall, several counties are seeing plateaus and increases in coronavirus activity.

According to the report, only small improvements need to be made to the state’s current efforts to contain the virus.

Statewide, the reproductive number—which indicates how many people an average patient will infect—has been held near one since July, with Western Washington at 1.14 and Eastern Washington at .92. This means that the disease is still transmitting, but at a far smaller rate than its peak earlier in the year.

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DOH notes that Spokane’s numbers rose after September 10, indicating high transmission around Labor Day weekend, and they are concerned that Spokane’s overall COVID-19 rate is increasing.
Benton, Clark, Franklin and Pierce counties are still plateauing, but not decreasing.

With more people spending time indoors for the fall weather and school season, DOH warns that “even slight increases in transmission… may result in exponential growth.”

“As the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors, we must all take precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19,” said state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “If you gather inside with people outside your household, it’s critical to keep the group as small as possible. Limit the length of time you spend together and the number of gatherings you have. Everyone should wear face coverings and stay at least six feet apart. Opening windows can also improve ventilation, even if it means wearing extra layers to stay warm.”