Department of Health: Delta variant driving dramatic spike in COVID cases statewide

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are accelerating across Washington state, and the state health department says that unvaccinated people are being hit hardest.

Officials are urging those who have not yet received the shot to get vaccinated, and also say now is the time to redouble efforts around the key behaviors that keep the virus from spreading:

  • Wear a mask, watch distance, wash hands often, carry hand sanitizer, and enable WA Notify on phones
  • Keep gatherings small and outside whenever possible, and avoid any large outdoor gatherings like concerts, fairs or festivals
  • Stay home if sick or exposed to COVID-19, and get tested if they have symptoms

“We are extremely concerned by this increased spike in cases, driven by the delta variant, spreading like wildfire amongst men, women, and children,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “Vaccination the best tool we have in this pandemic, but we also recommend that individuals mask indoors, and avoid large, crowded settings vaccinated or not. We need to use all the tools we have to reduce the ongoing spread of this virus in our community and to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Case rates are rising across all age groups because of widespread disease transmission. Within the last 30 days, the majority of counties have seen substantial increases:

  • Only seven counties (Kittitas, Okanogan, Ferry, Klickitat, Walla Walla, Jefferson, Garfield, Grays Harbor) have seen cases increase less than 100% .
  • Twelve counties (Adams, Thurston, Snohomish, Benton, Skamania, Whatcom, Skagit, Kitsap, Yakima, Cowlitz, Mason, Grant) have seen cases increase between 100-299%.
  • Ten counties (Clallam, Stevens, Asotin, Whitman, Franklin, Spokane, King, Clark, Lewis, Pierce) have seen cases increase between 300-599%.
  • Six counties (Pend Oreille, Douglas, Lincoln, Pacific, Chelan, Island) have seen cases increase more than 600%.
  • Columbia, San Juan and Wahkiakum counties have among the fewest cases.

Prevalence is approaching levels last seen in the winter 2020 surge, which means a lot of people are currently infected and may be spreading the virus. As of July 30, one in 172 Washington residents was estimated to have an active COVID-19 infection, the health department said.

The latest outbreak is also straining hospitals and health care facilities, the health department said. For example:

  • Expected increases in summer hospital occupancy coupled with a sharp increase in non-COVID-19 patients, who are arriving at hospitals sicker and staying longer
  • Many hospitals and other health care facilities are experiencing staffing challenges that decrease the number of available beds.
  • As of Aug. 8, COVID-related hospital admissions reached November 2020 levels based on data reported by hospitals. COVID-19 admission rates are increasing in all 18-plus age groups.
  • COVID-related hospital occupancy and ICU occupancy are skyrocketing, and many regional hospitals are at or near full capacity. This rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations is further limiting hospital capacity.
  • As of late July, about 95% of COVID-19 cases who were hospitalized since February were not fully vaccinated.
  • Health care facilities report an increasing numbers of workers who have tested positive for COVID-19. This will further impact hospital staffing challenges.

The state is now seeing daily case counts in the 3,000 range for the first time since the winter surge. The Department of Health is also reporting 24 new deaths today, which is a significant increase from weeks past.

“Vaccination progress is continuing, but not fast enough,” said Secretary Shah. “If you are unvaccinated and continue to have questions, we encourage you to speak to a trusted health care provider.”

  1. This is a horrid thing. To let these activities continue here regardless of how safe you think they are…they aren’t. People have to go home and go now. Your Mayor should be doing a live remote right now, in my opinion. HE should be contacting anyone with a business or plan for another event. Our town if we were smart would look like a ghost town for a couple weeks. But that isn’t the case. Now tomorrow is the Saturday Market. I sincerely hope all of the citizens here take it upon themselves to stay home and to the vendors you stay home too. Harsh No not at all. It is necessary and anyone who puts money or pride above human life is a failure. A failure at being a human being. I haven’t said much lately but after finding two more of my friends dead in the East… and now Dr. Spitters report again today. Saying this same thing to you…. Mayor how can you allow this to continue. How can you ignore your own Health Department DR. I am not griping at you today about politics and ideologies but about human life and care and suffering. What kind of person are you?? I mean I really need to know. Now if you have cancelled these events Thank you. IF you have not well.,.

  2. Who cares. Delta isn’t some new thing. The UK had a delta variant “surge”/”explosion”/skyrocket/giant exploding ball of misery death and suffering unleashed by satan himself. It was a nothing burger. Deaths have been flat for a year. Hospitalizations are primarily in the unvaccinated, who very clearly considered the risks of the vaccines greater than the risks of the getting covid, and are fine with the consequences of their actions, and do not want to be protected. 85% of Washington agreed to get vaccinated. You aren’t getting anymore people to agree. You need to understand how hard it is to get 85% of people to agree with ANYTHING. States that did Covid measures and states that did not had practically no difference in deaths per capita with a few outliers. Case numbers be damned, getting the sniffles is part of life, and Covid is nothing more than the sniffles for the vast majority of people. I am a young person who has had two years of my life stolen from me. No one is promised to live another year. I could die in a car accident tomorrow and have spent the last two years of my life barred from doing anything a 19 year old would normally have been able to do. It is pointless to “save lives” if the life you are saving consists of sitting in your house all day watching Netflix, scrolling through social media, forever denied human interaction. If you want to be a hermit, be my guest, but don’t drag me into your insanity.

    1. Kashf- I care. I care that we have neighbors who could suffer and die of something that was avoidable. I also care that misinformation, like some of the claims in your post, is contributing to more people suffering and dying.

      The deaths from COVID in the United Kingdom have NOT been “flat for a full year” and the Delta varian did result in a small surge but thankfully the much higher rate of vaccinations in the UK, coupled with school closings and the end of the summer soccer tournament, helped keep it from being worse.

      The vaccination rate in WA is NOT 85%.

      I understand that you feel like you had “two years of your life stolen” from you and you feel like you were “barred from any human interaction” and I know many people of all ages feel that same way. Hopefully, you can continue to live a long and full life and follow the Department of Health public safety measures and recommendations in this article at the same time.

      Meanwhile, please consider not spreading more misinformation about COVID or vaccines so that others who are vulnerable can make informed decisions.

    2. Thank you, Chris, for setting some of these details aright. And Kashf, I hope you can find a way to make better use of your youthful energy to make something more of your isolation than Netflix binging. If that is how you chose to dedicate two years of young adulthood, that is a choice you made out of extreme privilege. Maybe it is time to turn off the endless entertainment and consider someone other than yourself. You may be able to find a more productive way to contribute to the betterment of the life you have ahead of you. There is no more “normal” than there ever has been. There is no constant other than change. I suggest you find a way to adapt your expectations to find a way out of your self-imposed sloth. Many others your age have risen to the challenge to find ways to contribute to their community and you might find more productive uses of your time.

    3. LATEST INFORMATION FOUND : As of August 10, 70.7% of Washingtonians 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This number is higher than the DOH data dashboard because it includes state Immunization Information System (IIS) data, as well as aggregate data from the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA):
      4,615,206 people with at least one dose (4,464,811 IIS + 150,395 DoD and VA)

      6,529,327 (Population 12 and older, 2020 Office of Financial Management estimates)

      If you haven’t been vaccinated, visit Vaccine Locator or call 833-VAX-HELP to make your appointment

    4. Kashf, I read your comment with interest, 3 times. I applaud your courage to say what you think, know and feel. In the country I am from being “truthful” to ones feelings is not allowed. Your perspective is that of a young man, full of energy, hope, and excitement. Most who post here are your parents/grandparents age. That does not make them wise or clairvoyant. They don’t understand the science that is fed to us daily with different facts anymore than you or I do. I say to you young Mr. Iqbal, live your life as you see fit, use your hope, dreams and energy to stay positive and live your own life outside of the fear and judgement of the older generation. You are our future, you get to express and live your own ideas, while also showing respect to your elders. A fine line I believe you know how to do.

      I would caution you against feeling anger or rage towards those who want you to conform to fear and telling you to do things for the “greater good”, which is a socialist/communist term always used by radicals. They only have power over you by letting them, they use fear to control you then suddenly they are turning in their neighbors for not conforming to their fear. From life in Cuba, Venezuela, Panama I learned “Just a touch of Tyranny…….and then we can go back to following the law” ……..does not work. They never go back, never.
      God Bless You Kashf

  3. “You need to understand how hard it is to get 85% of people to agree with ANYTHING.”

    You need to understand, you are undermining the effort to reach an 85% vaccination rate with rants about ‘sniffles’, ‘pointless lives’ and distorting the effects the virus has on individuals and their glorious personal choices.

    Please stop.

    You have no clue what having 2 years of your life “stolen from you” is, if you think that’s what the last two years equate to.

    1. You mean that glorious non FDA approved vaccine that still allows you to get infected AND spread it? You mean the vaccine that manufacturers have been given immunity to ANY liability for because it SO safe?

      1. So what’s your solution? Do you think this ends if we just go our separate ways? Not a chance.

        Mask mandates will be implemented and halted as numbers rise and fall. Businesses will have changing occupancy levels as numbers rise and fall. Do you want to wear a mask on an airplane forever?

        What is the anti-vaxxer plan?

  4. I agree with Kashf Iqbal, if you do, or do not get vaccinated, and die, it is a risk you were willing to take. If you are a family member, a good friend, or even an unknown party, I will be very sorry for your passing, but I will feel no responsibility. It is a risk you were willing to take, you took responsibility of your decision . I recall an adage by Benjamin Franklin that says it all “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” History has proved this to be very true. If you question this take out a history book. I have had my shot, so I am not worried when I associate with friends that have not had theirs. It is none of my business one way or the other. If I get sick, theoretically it will be a bad case of the flu; if it is worse, I made a bad choice. Life is full of risks, every hour of every day; you should do what you are comfortable doing, and expect others to make the same choice. If you do not like being around people who don’t wear a mask, keep your business or personal connections free of non-mask wearers. It is your right to make this decision, but don’t be angry at those who do not make the same choice. Personally, I will put on a mask when asked to, as I am not looking for an argument. My research said that 70% of the people around me have been vaccinated; I am comfortable with that information, and am assuming it is accurate. If you get COVID-19 and aren’t vaccinated that was a risk you accepted. If you get a case of the COVID-19 flu, I sincerely hope you will recover, as it is not usually deadly, if one has taken the vaccine, but again who knows all the answers to all the possible variations; life is risky, freedom is also, but freedom is worth it.

  5. The mass psychosis holding us, our community, our country, our world captive right now is concerning. Surrendering personal freedom and inner peace or demanding others lose theirs in exchange for the promise of an end to any suffering at all cost shows the lack of acknowledgement of the reality of being human.

    Life is messy.

    Yes, this virus is real, to deny that is foolish, but the collective response we are having to it is not logical or healthy. Left unchecked, it will continue to divide, confuse and destroy our community and connection to each other.

    I share this link for your discernment –

    MASS PSYCHOSIS – How an Entire Population Becomes MENTALLY ILL


  6. There are plenty of people who have gotten this right from the start. Maybe, just maybe, we should start listening to them? This is Covid 19, not Covid 1. The gain of function just affected transmission, not the effectiveness of masks or lockdowns in containment. As for mRNA, it has been around for decades and there are many studies. The censorship has caused irreparable damage to the general population and it needs to end.

  7. The term Covid 19 refers to the year it first surfaced, not the 19th. version of it as Mr. Glen suggests. That’s how misinformation starts and gets passed around. Much like a virus, ironically.

    According to science, the virus will mutate into different versions as long as there are large quantities of humans who are susceptible to catching it. The theory was that if the vast majority of people got the first vaccines available, the mutations would not have occurred or been greatly mitigated. What we are trying to achieve is no disease ideally, or a much milder disease that won’t collapse our hospital systems and demoralize our emergency and health care workforce. Personally, I and my close friends and family have tried to honor and follow the science and no one feels like our freedom has been somehow violated because some choose to politicize what is really a public health concern.

    The reason we voluntarily wear masks when asked to, is to try to prevent spreading the disease to others; not to prevent ourselves from getting it. The same reason health professionals wear masks to prevent their germs and virus’s from entering the bodies of those they are treating and operating on.

    I recently listened to a young man who just had the disease and was pretty sick for awhile, state how he learned on the internet that Dr. Fauci worked with the Chinese who paid him a whole bunch of money to invent the disease in a Wuhan lab. Many of our young people actually believe that, thanks to the politicization of this whole mess.

  8. Valid point. There have been more than 19 coronaviruses and we are ignoring the medical advice from every one that preceded this one. Every single recommended action was never followed, until now. Are they working? Does anyone care enough to question? Are people who aren’t convinced actually stupid, or selfish, or partisan? Maybe they see something that doesn’t make sense and want no part of it, until an open discussion is allowed.

    1. Glen, Natural Immunity is the most sure and robust immunity. I want to ensure I am infected before this winter. A cadre of whistleblowers stepped forward last week, some even writing op-eds in our largest papers. It came from a lab and the people making policy had something to do with the leak and the cover-up. If the virus were a dam that broke and flooded a village there would be people handing out life preservers, but there’s also be an investigation as to how it happened and what could be done to prevent it again. All we we see is a big-pharma feeding frenzy and whole bunch of self-loathing.

      1. Matt, The truth will eventually come out; many have suspected from the beginning that Fauci had a lot to hide. You and William are two very well read men, we appreciate your intelligent comments that you share with us. You both take the dialog up a notch.

    2. FYI – per the CDC, there are 7 coronaviruses:

      Common human coronaviruses
      1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
      2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
      3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
      4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

      Other human coronaviruses
      5. MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
      6. SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
      7. SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19)

      The name COVID-19 is for the year it was discovered.

  9. I can’t wait to get my booster shot in Sept. or early Oct. How about, the hospitals just start refusing to accept the non vaccinated for treatment or make them go to the back of the line? Anyone stupid enough to believe that Dr. Fauci got a bunch of money from China to invent the disease deserves to get the disease and not be treated for it, in my opinion.

  10. This virus is something that is going to be with us for a decade at least, so we are going to have to learn to deal with it for the long term. It is important for us a community to continue to talk about and plan for how we are going to deal with it.

    One of the most important pieces of information that we have is that the Vaccines have been thoroughly proven to be safe and extremely effective. With over 99% of the Covid deaths and 99% of COVID hospitalizations, the vaccines have greatly proved their efficacy.

    99% is a tremendous success, and the vaccinated who have breakthrough infections are not getting sick, and are only a threat to the unvaccinated. Really this virus response now is all about dealing with unvaccinated. Especially those who forgo all of the facts and science on this and still choose to ignore it and not get vaccinated.

    Vaccine mandates for workers are one of the best ways to manage this problem.

    There has been a 34% increase in the number of employers requiring their workers to get vaccinated, and most States now require city workers to be vaccinated. Serious business have no time for the conspiracy theories and blind party loyalty that are preventing some from getting this life saving measure now. The facts are clear. Unvaccinated people are an unnecessary risk to businesses and out community. We should stop coddling them for their destructive life choices.

    1. William, lots of things to think about here. You have a great way of getting your point a across in a very civil manner. I appreciate you and your comments. You class up the place!
      Those that call others “stupid”, need to learn civility.

      1. As far as I’m concerned, civility is people getting vaccinated and wearing a mask to protect other people as much as possible. All I ask is, if you don’t get vaccinated and refuse to mask, don’t even think about society giving you medical help or a place in the hospital when you get sit too sick to breath. Save that privilege for people who care about other people.

    2. Appreciate the comment William. The basic fact is that we have a group of people largely along political lines who are purposefully killing innocent people in this country in order to follow a social tend. They are actively avoiding the facts about vaccine safety and effectiveness that would prevent the growing 600,000 death toll.

      Freedom is a hard fought right in this country but we also don’t allow people to drive on the sidewalk even though preventing people from driving where pedestrians walk is a curtail on their freedom.

      People have a right to their own freedom, but not when it unnecessarily and pointlessly leads to the loss of life of others.

      We absolutely should not be coddling people who pointlessly kill other people in this country, just because they want to stay ignorant to the facts. That is a terrible reason for someone to have to lose their life, especially when the death toll from it is over a half a million Americans.

      Vaccine mandates for businesses are a very reasonable measure. Especially for factories, schools, hospitals, busy offices, and service industries.

      It is not a surprise that the places with mask mandate bans and heavy vaccine resistance are the places that have been hit the hardest. Which also puts a strain on economic recovery.

      The unvaccinated are making a choice to put all of the kids under 12, those who cannot get vaccinated, and the vulnerable at risk for no reason whatsoever. Increased outbreaks also threaten the ability for schools to have in person learning. The rights of those who want to protect the lives of their kids should trump those who just want to choose conspiracies over the safety of their community.

  11. Medical care should be available for anyone who needs it. Thank goodness you are not in charge of anything.

    1. Then I assume you are in favor of Medicare for all, Mr. Pilmanis? Please expand on your very reasonable statement that “Medical care should be available for anyone who needs it.” Does that include all the homeless, extremely poor and women who want personal health care without the government intervention with their doctors? Does it include undocumented workers and refugees from South America and now Afganistan? Does it include illegal substance abusers? Who’s supposed to pay for this medical care that you say you think should be so available to anyone who needs it? I’m sure you are all for the folks in the Red states with their anti vax governors getting all the free and “experimental” medical care they need.

      Many of the statements in this thread are getting more and more absurd, illogical and totally bazaar in some cases. I totally agree with Mr. Nelson above. The anti vax side in this dumb argument is dripping in hypocritical statements of half truths and pure nonsense.

  12. Hitler was a master at turning neighbor against neighbor – he knew the human psyche demands to be right and he just had to foster and cultivate that need. I have a friend who will often reply, “from your perspective you are 100% right.” Every time he says it, I go back and hunt for the truth. Sometimes I’m right, and other times I stand corrected. The point is, I’m willing to prove myself wrong.

    It’s a sad day in America for some of us when some of our fellow Americans are willing to leave a brother or sister behind – and are willing to withhold medical care for those in need. I find it ironic that those who demand social justice and inclusion are often the same people who are willing to exclude those who aren’t vaccinated – many of those are low-income and often minorities.

    And so the lines are divided – not necessarily along political beliefs – but between those who demand others think as they do and others who are open to allowing others to hold their own beliefs.

  13. Michael, you are such an articulate writer. As I follow your career and your very substantial contribution to our town, our country, and our service members, I am humbled by your depth of knowledge into history and the human spirit. You make me feel like a better human and give me a clearer understanding, just reading your words, thank you.

  14. Good grief. No one, including myself, is seriously advocating that people be left in the hallway to die. Everyone knows emergency medical persons are obligated to take care of people who need it up to their capacity to do so. And that’s how it should be. My real point is that the folks who place their own personal freedom over and above the welfare of the rest of us are lucky to get the same treatment as those who role up their sleeves and do something that might just be to the benefit of everyone in the society. When Hitler arrives in the conversation, count me out. Feel free to attack me at will now, I’m done responding to nonsense and hypocrisy.

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