The fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be abating in Washington state, but officials say much work remains to be done.
SEATTLE – The fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the number of cases rise in Washington since August. Despite the availability of vaccines, the state’s hospitalizations and death rate reached record highs by the end of the summer.
The state epidemiologist, Dr. Scott Lindquist, however, said Wednesday that he thinks Washington is “on the verge of averting this fifth wave pretty well.”
The positive outlook came Wednesday morning during the Health Ministry briefing. The most recent data shows that the number of cases, hospitalizations and even death rates are steadily falling.
>> Download KING 5’s Roku and Amazon Fire apps to watch live newscasts and video-on-demand
In addition to beginning distribution of the newly approved pediatric vaccine to children ages 5-11, Lindquist and the rest of the DOH panel expressed optimism about the future of the pandemic.
“But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear your mask,” Lindquist said. “All those principles – vaccination, masking and distancing from others – will help us a lot to get out of this fifth wave.”
The state has seen nearly 350 deaths in the past two weeks, and there are still about 100 new hospitalizations every day, according to the DOH dashboard.
As far as pediatric vaccines are concerned, the rollout is expected to be slow. As of Wednesday, 265,000 doses have arrived in the state, but it’s difficult to get appointments as parents compete with people looking for boosters to get their kids a spot in a clinic or doctor’s office.
“We want to make sure the message to parents is ‘keep trying’,” said Health Minister Dr Umair Shah. “Vaccine supply, as we’ve said in recent weeks, is slow and low, but it will increase.”
The state’s dashboard doesn’t yet list vaccination rates for ages 5-11, but as of Nov. 6, about 60% of the state’s total population has been fully vaccinated. Also, 675,000 Washingtonians have also received their booster.
“This remains a race against a virus,” Shah said. “The virus does what viruses do. It attracts people.”