Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Director Umair Shah told reporters on Wednesday, Sept. 29, that hospitalizations from COVID-19 have continued to level off, but he warned that the public should not breathe a sigh of relief just yet.
“The numbers remain high. Too high,” Shah said during a virtual press conference. He compared the full hospitals and tired hospital staff members to a rubber band that is doomed to fail at some point if stretched for too long.
Latino communities remain at higher risk of COVID-19 infection because of lagging vaccination rates, according to a new policy brief released by the University of Washington’s Latino Center for Health (LCH). The new numbers show that only 35% of Latinos are fully vaccinated in the state, with 6% partially vaccinated.
“With the growing threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant in our region, it is imperative that we vaccinate as many Latinos as possible before the fall when schools reopen and cooler temperatures will drive infection rates higher,” said physician Leo Morales, the co-director of LCH and author of the policy brief, in a press release. Another brief LCH released a few months ago suggests that a lack of access to the vaccine as well as vaccine hesitancy are some of the biggest factors affecting Latino communities. Although a majority of those surveyed had positive views on the vaccine, many expressed concerns around side effects and safety, cost, and effectiveness.
Though Washington State appears to be on track to eventually meet its goal of a 70% vaccination rate among people aged 16 and older, it does not appear that it will meet this goal before the planned state reopening date of June 30. The state is also experiencing an increase in the P.1 virus variant, rather than the recently identified Delta variant about which many other states are expressing concern.
As of this writing, the state sits at an exactly 68% vaccination rate among people aged 16 and older, State Department of Health (DOH) Sec. of Health Dr. Umair Shah said in a June 23 briefing. On June 9, the rate was 66.4%, so the state’s current rate represents just a 1.6% increase in vaccinations among people ages 16 and up.
Washington State is just a hair’s breadth away from reaching its goal of a 70% vaccination rate among people aged 16 and older, but Gov. Jay Inslee said in an afternoon press conference on June 9 that the state would essentially fully reopen on June 30, regardless of whether the state reaches its vaccination rate goal by that date.
Miriam McBride, the CEO of Truth Movement Innertainment, will be moderating the panel. The event will feature Chris Davis and Michealea Lemons, prevention and health coordinators at PCAF, and Korey Strozier, school board director (position 3) with Tacoma Public Schools, as a panelist.
Thursday, June 4, marks 500 days since statewide efforts to curb the COVID-19 epidemic began. As of today, Washington has surpassed 7 million vaccine doses with more than 62% of Washingtonians ages 16 and over — or around 3.8 million people — receiving at least one dose.
In a press briefing Tuesday morning, Washington Department of Health (DOH) Secretary of Health Umair Shah expressed that high vaccination rates may lead to the elimination of capacity constraints on Washington businesses even before the state’s proposed date of June 30. This is entirely possible, provided that vaccination rates reach the 70% target in that time.
While it appears the finish line may be within view, Shah noted that a shift from increasing the supply of vaccines to maintaining demand for them is vital if the State hopes to reach their goal in time.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
COVID-19 Webinar & Testing Locations
Six Months After the COVID Vaccine Webinar, May 27 — With full reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic just weeks away, a group of experts will discuss the State’s next steps and how Washington state can return to a medical world better and more equitable than the old normal.
Dr. Ben Danielson, University of Washington School of Medicine
Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, American Academy of Family Physicians Vaccine Science Fellow
Dr. Larry Corey, Fred Hutch President and Director Emeritus
“The experts will share an update on state vaccination rates, their learnings from the last six months and their outlook for what WA residents can expect moving forward. More information on the webinar can be found here. This event will offer live Spanish and ASL interpretation.”
Stating in no uncertain terms that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent masking recommendations are “uncoordinated and counterproductive,” Public Health — Seattle & King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin announced in a May 20 press conference a new local health directive for all King County residents. The directive — which is effective immediately, regardless of vaccination status — asks that everyone continue to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, such as grocery stores.
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has publicly stated that anyone who is vaccinated against the novel coronavirus can resume all activities — such as going to the grocery store and gathering with friends — mask-free, the Washington State Department of Health is still urging caution.
In a May 19 press briefing, Department of Health (DOH) officials said that it is important to continue to exercise caution and care. The state’s transmission and disease levels are still not where they need to be, though more than half the state has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We are seeing with complete data and even the projection moving forward is that we believe that we are seeing that flattening and that decline,” DOH Health Sec. Dr. Umai Shah said of the state’s disease and transmission levels. “That does not mean that every place is having the same kind of decline.”