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COVID-19 transmission still escalating in Inland Northwest

The majority of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide since February are in those who are unvaccinated, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Health.

And while vaccines are still effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization with the virus, state and federal health officials recommend everyone wear a mask in indoor, public settings, regardless of vaccination status.

This is due to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show that people who test positive with the delta variant who have been fully vaccinated can carry the same viral load as those who are unvaccinated, and can potentially transmit it to others.

While breakthrough cases are still rare in the state and nationwide, the fact fully vaccinated people could test positive and spread the virus makes the delta variant different from previous COVID-19 variants. The delta variant is also much more transmissible, with estimates at one person infecting up to three or four additional people.

Masks and vaccines are the best tools to combat the surge of the delta variant. Find a vaccine at a local grocery store, pharmacy or through your health care provider. You can also find a dose by using the state’s vaccine locator or by calling (833) VAX-HELP.

So far, 67% of the state population eligible to get vaccinated has received at least one dose. In Spokane County, 54.8% of residents who are 12 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 59 new cases on Thursday and no additional deaths.

There are 46 patients hospitalized in Spokane with the virus.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 127 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths.

There have been 328 deaths due to COVID-19 among Panhandle residents.

There are 36 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories 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.