COVID-19 activity continues to grow in Washington state as hospitalizations and deaths rise

For immediate release: July 28, 2020                 (20-134)

Contact: Jessica Baggett, Communications, 360-789-0058 

COVID-19 activity continues to grow in Washington state as hospitalizations and deaths rise

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report, which outlines concerning trends in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, as well as mixed trends in case counts in different parts of the state.

Report findings include:

  • COVID-19 transmission continued to grow across the state as of early July. Best estimates place the reproductive number (the estimated number of new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) above one in eastern and western Washington. The goal is a reproductive number well below one, which would mean the number of people getting COVID-19 is declining. While the estimated reproductive numbers are lower than they were in last week’s report, COVID-19 cases are continuing to grow.
  • Case numbers continue to trend upward in many counties, with possible decreases or plateaus in Clark, Franklin, King, Spokane and Yakima counties. It’s difficult to tell at this stage whether these numbers reflect true decreases, or if delays in testing are impacting case counts.
  • The proportion of tests that come back positive is still high in eastern Washington and is rising in western Washington. This likely means high or increasing case counts reflect greater spread of the virus, not just increases in testing. For this reason, the report recommends caution when interpreting recent downward or flattening trends in some counties.
  • The recent concentration of new cases in young adults has continued to spread into younger and older age groups. As noted in last week’s report, this trend in age distribution reflects a similar trend in Florida, where a high concentration of cases in young adults spread broadly into other age groups. New hospitalizations are also increasing across most age groups in the state.
  • Deaths continue to rise in eastern Washington, and appear to be increasing in western Washington for the first time since 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. Our actions matter: stay home, keep distance and wear a face covering. We all need to take this responsibility seriously and limit our activity to protect the health and safety of our communities.”

DOH partners with the Institute for Disease Modeling, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington and the Microsoft AI for Health program to develop this weekly report. More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH website and in the state’s risk assessment dashboard.