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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

COVID-19 cases just as prevalent in community now as during winter surge, new report says

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.  (HOGP)

COVID-19 is just as prevalent in the community now as it was during the winter wave, and cases will likely keep rising for the next month, according to a new state Department of Health report.

Over the last month, case counts have increased sharply in most counties and in all age groups, the report says.

As of Aug. 6, the agency said the percentage of Washington state residents with active COVID-19 was on par with where the state was in the winter of 2020, the highest peak to date. About 1 in 156 residents are currently estimated to have an active infection, according to the report, though the department did not specify in the report what the similar rate was over the winter.

Across the state, 33 of 39 counties are showing increasing counts as of Aug. 6, including Spokane County.

And it likely won’t decrease anytime soon.

The report found increased vaccine uptake and masking indoors, regardless of vaccination status, are critical to reduce transmission and the burdens on the health care system.

“If the entire population were to experience the rates of hospitalizations currently seen in the unvaccinated, the hospital system would be completely overwhelmed,” according to the report.

In the last month, hospital admission rates have increased in all age groups, “with particularly sharp increases among the unvaccinated.”

For those ages 16 to 44, the hospital admission rate is about 10 times higher for unvaccinated people than for fully vaccinated people in that same age group. The rate is also 10 times higher for unvaccinated people ages 45 to 64 than fully vaccinated people in that same age group.

As of Thursday, more people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Washington than have been at any point in the pandemic.

To try to prevent overwhelming the health care system, state leaders reinstated the statewide mask mandate for everyone indoors and implemented vaccine requirements for state workers, health care employees and educators in K-12, child care and higher education.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 330 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and three additional deaths.

There have been 712 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.

There are 160 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 36 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths.

There have been 350 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Panhandle Health District.

There are currently 92 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.