by Carolyn Bick
The state has now reached its all-time COVID-19 case one-day high, standing at 2,147 new cases of the disease today alone, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reported in a press release late in the day on Nov. 13.
“Just two weeks ago, we announced 1,000 new cases in a day for the first time since mid-summer. And, each day this week we have reported over 1,000 new cases per day. This rapid escalation is extremely alarming,” the press release reads.
In a brief public announcement on Nov. 12 that barely touched on the grim statistics that the state’s top health officials had delivered the public just two days before, Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi Inslee, mentioned in passing that the state’s case count is growing “exponentially.” While it is unclear whether Inslee meant that in the literal sense, the health experts who had addressed members of the press on Nov. 10 said that, at the rate the state is going, case count growth certainly had the potential to reach exponential growth.
In that same press conference, DOH’s Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said that “we should probably all stop socializing for a while,” because a case count growth like the one the state is currently seeing will inevitably mean hospitals will not have the capacity to accept patients. Such predictions hearken back to what many places in Europe experienced early in the crisis: because the virus got so out of control and there was such a shortage of hospital beds and medical equipment available, many of Europe’s elderly were left to die.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2,519 people have died statewide, as of Nov. 12, according to the DOH’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard. Total cases have been highest among people ages 20-39. And while death has been most common among people 80 and older, followed by people aged 60-79, this does not mean there are not long-term complications for people who manage to survive the disease — including the young and fit.
In King County, the situation is also only getting worse, as evidenced by the data on the Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) COVID-19 tracking dashboard. On Nov. 11, King County reached 675 new cases of the virus in just one day, which appears to be the all-time high for the county, based on the Emerald‘s best knowledge, as of this writing.
And those are just the cases that were recorded. The data charted shows a line that appears to be projecting a rapid, unchecked increase in cases in the coming weeks.
With the exception of the beginning of the pandemic — but not taking into account the nationwide shortage of tests for the first several months of the outbreak — most of the recorded new cases throughout the pandemic have been concentrated in South King County, and there have been 828 recorded deaths as a result of the disease in the county as a whole.
The DOH press release about the one-day record high in the state came equipped with the usual warnings and basic measures people can take to stop the spread of the virus: wear a mask the right way — securely over both your nose and mouth — wash your hands; don’t gather indoors; don’t gather outdoors without masks.
To this reporter, it would appear these are easy steps to take to keep not only yourself safe, but others, too. At the end of the day, it comes down to how much you care about other people’s survival. Your actions reflect this. Wearing or not wearing a mask reflects this. It is unclear why a virus — one that has been shown time and again to have disastrous consequences, and that doesn’t discriminate based on race, age, gender, sexuality, religion — or political party least of all — has been turned into a political football. It is also unclear to this reporter why it is so difficult for people to wear a mask and to avoid gatherings where said virus will easily spread.
But here we are.
Featured image is a screenshot of the Washington State Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard. Please note that the data in the screenshot only reflects data as of Nov. 12, 2020.