DOH: Spokane Co. possibly curbing COVID-19 infections, statewide trend still concerning

Spokane skyline
Copyright 4 News Now

OLYMPIA, Wash. — According to the Department of Health’s statewide situation report, COVID-19 transmission is growing, but several counties including Spokane could be lowering their infection rates.

The report estimates COVID’s reproductive number—the number of new people each patient will infect, also called R-nought—is above one in both Eastern and Western Washington. The Department of Health says the goal of everyone’s coronavirus response is to get that number well below one.

While the R-nought has lowered from last week’s report, DOH says the trend still shows a growth in COVID-19 cases.

DOH notes that several counties may be seeing their infections plateau or even decrease; Spokane, Clark, Franklin, King and Yakima counties included. Health officials say that this is either a sign of actual cases lowering, or is indicative of testing delays.

The trend in other counties is not as great, as infections continue to rise, reports the DOH.

Another concern is that the positivity rate in tests is still high statewide, and is also rising in western Washington. DOH reports that this reflects a greater spread of the virus, and not simply a surge in testing.

Most troubling of all is the shift in age group infections; at the outset of the pandemic, people over the age of 60 were contracting the virus more than any other age group. Now, it’s inordinately affecting young adults, who in turn spread COVID-19 to younger and older age groups.

All age groups are now seeing a rise in hospitalizations, and the DOH says that deaths are increasing, too—the death rate in western Washington is sadly becoming comparable to what they saw in March.

“While I’m encouraged by continued progress in Yakima County, the data require that we must do more across the state,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We are still at great risk for significant growth as the virus continues to spread in Washington state. And, as it moves into more vulnerable age groups, I am very concerned that hospitalizations and deaths will continue to increase.”