By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
The Puget Sound region like much of America is experiencing a high level of COVID cases since this time last year driven highly by the contagious Delta variant.
Dr. Duchin, Health Officer for King County Public Health, held a news briefing last Thursday to announce the Public Health Department outdoor mask mandate.
“While outdoor activities remain much safer than indoors there is still a risk,” says Duchin. “Even outdoors currently when large numbers of people are in close, prolonged contact.”
While outdoors the Health Department encourages everyone to layer multiple prevention strategies including wearing well-made, snug fitting face masks when in crowded outdoor locations.
According to Duchin, “when in crowded outdoor locations it is a necessary precaution to limit COVID-19 spread, preventable cases, hospitalizations and death.”
Public Health statistics show that the region is experiencing a Delta driven surge and we are continuing to see high levels of new COVID cases and high levels of hospitalization and recently even deaths as well.
In the County’s seven-day incidence report, rates have risen to 183 persons per 100,000. The county is seeing 600 cases per day, a 500 percent increase in cases from this time last year.
“While hopeful, we need to see significant and sustain reductions in cases,” says Duchin. “In order to relax our prevention measures. The seven-day incidence rate is well above CDC’s cutoff for high transmission.”
According to Duchin, in general, case rates are at a high level at every age group. The unvaccinated make up six times more cases, forty-eight times more hospitalizations and thirty-two times more deaths. This compared to the fully vaccinated. As of today, there are 329 case recorded in King County, twelve percent of those are acute and twenty-five percent make up the ICU beds.
Public Health officials stress that with these statistics the burden on the health system is dire going into the fall and winter seasons.
“Our hospitals are under immense strain,” Duchin conveys. “And, struggling to provide the necessary care and treatment of patients.”
“The more contagious Delta variant combined with increase activities, in person schooling, upcoming changes in the seasons and anticipated gatherings for the holidays along with the unpredictability of the SARs CoV2 virus all contribute to the continued risk and uncertainty we face going into the fall and winter months hence the need for continued precautions,” Duchin continued.
On a more positive note, king county has one of the highest vaccination rates of any large metropolitan area in the country, according to public health officials.