The following are a series of updates on Public Health news. Please help share these updates to ensure the health and safety of our community and to help accelerate us into a time of relative normalcy again soon.
As of last night, the total confirmed and probable cases in Washington State reached 328,047, which brings the 14-day average to 1,175. Of these, 4,675 people died, with an average of 13 deaths per day over the last 14 days in the state. With vaccines, 1,057,844 dose have been administered. 10.75% of people have received the first dose while 3.25% have gotten the second one.
In King County, the numbers continue to improve. Total positive cases have reached 80,144, with a 7-day average of 4.5% test positivity. Of those, 6.2% have been hospitalized (4,997) and 1.4% died (1,321). 351,606 doses of vaccine have been administered in King County, reaching 14.4% of the population with one dose and 4.6% with two doses.
Dr. Duchin Video Update – Clearly not yet in the clear!
On February 12th, Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin provided updates on trends in COVID-19 cases and shared information on COVID vaccination efforts. He makes it clear that we are not in the clear. The variants pose a serious risk of a new wave of infection and until we know the outcomes, we need to stay diligent.
Race, Geography and the COVID Vaccine
Public Health has a recently enhanced vaccine data dashboard that shows which populations have received the vaccine so far. It includes numbers and rates by race/ethnicity, age and geography. The dashboard also has information by job category for the health care workers eligible in Phase 1A (as of this writing, Washington is in phase 1B1 of the state Department of Health’s vaccine eligibility framework).
The dashboard lays out the challenge before us: In the first months since vaccines were approved, a smaller percentage of Black, Latinx and other people of color have received the vaccine than White people. Through February 11:
- for White residents of King County, about one in eight (13.3%) had received at least one dose
- for Black residents, that number is one in 14 (7.3%)
- among Latinx people, just one in 18 (5.7%) has received their first dose
It’s clear from this early look at the data that Public Health has work to do to achieve an equitable distribution of vaccines. It won’t happen by itself. We need to remove barriers, sustain an inclusive process, and be intentionally anti-racist, as described in King County’s “Principles for Equitable Vaccine Delivery,” as well as the vaccine delivery progress report.
The continued importance of testing
Vaccine may be in the spotlight right now, and while it’s a crucial tool to eventually help us overcome the pandemic, it’s not the only tool we should be using. We are still relying on things like wearing masks and getting tested to ensure our success in overcoming this pandemic, and we’ll need to keep doing so over the next few months.
Testing is a critical and essential part of the overall COVID-19 response. Identifying and isolating people who have COVID-19, and quarantining those exposed to the virus, are necessary to understanding, responding to, and stopping the spread of infection. Assuring equitable and widespread access to testing with rapid turnaround times for results remains a priority. For us to successfully stop the spread of the virus, it is critical for people to get tested when they have symptoms or when they have been exposed to someone suspected of having COVID-19.
Testing remains a priority. Please, encourage your family and friends to get tested if they’ve been exposed, or if they have symptoms. For more information about testing in Washington state see the state Department of Health’s (DOH) testing page, their updated statewide testing strategy and their testing location resources.
Photo by Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash