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King County on the brink of stepping back to Phase 2

New cases and hospitalizations continue to surge since moving to Phase 3 on March 22.



[KIRKLAND] – (MTN) The latest data indicates that King County is on the bring of falling backward to Phase 2 when the state Department of Health does their next evaluation on May 2. New cases per 100,000 are up to 217.5 and hospitalizations are 4.8. To remain in Phase 3, new cases must be below 200 per 100,000 people and hospitalizations below 5.0. According to the Department of Health, 85.4% of all ICU beds are utilized in King County, 12.2% with COVID-19 patients.

Pierce County, which moved back to Phase 2 on April 16, has not made enough progress on reversing the trend in the county. Cases are at 217.3 per 100,000 and hospitalizations are 7.2. Snohomish County is also at risk of dropping to Phase 2 next week. Hospitalizations have more than doubled since last month and new cases are 205.0 per 100,000.

Moving to Phase 2 would drop occupancy of restaurants and other facilities to 25% and could potentially end spectators at sporting events at high school, college, and professional levels.

On Friday, Dr. Jeff Durchin of King County Health explained, “King County entered Phase 3 with the rest of Washington state on March 22, at a time when cases and hospitalizations were already on the rise. Since that time, our 7-day average case numbers have risen by 70 percent, and hospitalization rates have increased by 75 percent.”

King County dashboard for April 24, 2021, at 10:00 AM

State, county, and hospital officials all echoed the same observations. New cases are mostly COVID variants such as B.1.1.7 from the United Kingdom. A majority of hospitalized patients are in their 30s and 40s and are presenting with extreme illness. One area hospital is canceling elective surgeries due to its patient load.

Currently, 36% of all King County residents are fully immunized and 57% have received at least one dose. The National Institute of Health, CDC, and other federal officials have stopped talking about achieving herd immunity, taking a more muted position due to vaccination hesitancy. The number of people being vaccinated is slowing down, with hundreds of available appointments in South King County going unused late this week.

Among the Black population of Washington, only 47% have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Distrust in vaccination programs born out of historical medical experiments conducted by the government on Black populations has created distrust and fear.

King County can move the numbers in the right direction before the May 2 evaluation. Wearing masks even if vaccinated, limiting exposure to people, and sticking with to-go options for restaurants and alcoholic beverages can help lower the positivity rate.

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