COVID UPDATE: Promising signs for control of illness

COVID-19 vaccinations are helping slow the spread of the virus in Washington and reduce its impact on the healthcare system, according to the state Department of Health.

Department (DOH) officials said May 20 that said vaccination efforts and other preventive measures, such as wearing masks and maintaining distance from people who aren’t vaccinated, must continue to keep positive trends in COVID cases from reversing.

Case counts are declining statewide. Only a few counties are continuing to see increasing case counts, including Lewis, Kittitas, Stevens and Whatcom.

Transmission decreased sharply over the last two weeks of April, but was still relatively high as of April 30.

As of May 6:

  • An estimated 36 percent of the state’s overall population had immunity from COVID, DOH reported. The estimated percentage of the population with active COVID-19 infections, known as overall prevalence, was decreasing but still high.
  • Case rates were declining in most age groups and flattening in the rest. Cases were flattening among children up to 9 years old and adults 60 to 69, and remained flat in people 70 and older. Case rates continued to be highest among people ages 20-29, followed by ages 10-19 and 30-39.
  • Hospital admissions were declining slightly in people ages 20 to 79. More recent data reported by hospitals suggest total hospital admission rates were continuing to flatten or decline slightly as of mid-May, DOH officials said. As of May 14, the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients statewide was beginning to flatten. The number of ICU beds occupied by these patients has varied more, but also appears to be flattening.

Scott Lindquist, the state’s acting health officer, said getting vaccinated is protecting people from serious illness and hospitalizations from COVID-19. The hospital admission rate for COVID-19 in unvaccinated people ages 45- to 64 is about 18 times higher than people of the same age who are fully vaccinated, he said. For people 65 and older, the hospital admission rate is about 11 times higher among people who are unvaccinated than those who are fully protected.

“We are excited to see trends improving, but we aren’t out of the woods yet,”  Lindquist said. “We still have work to do on vaccinations if we want to continue to see declines in disease and make progress toward full reopening. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community from the virus.”