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Thousands of people have been reinfected with COVID-19 in Washington state, new report shows

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)

Thousands of Washington residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after recovering from the virus, a new report from the Department of Health shows.

The department considers a person to be reinfected if they test positive at least 90 days apart, or genotyping shows they had two different variants.

The department’s count only includes people who have a confirmed positive test result reported to the state, so people who test positive with an at-home test would not be included in this report unless they are reporting their results.

From September through January, there have been 29,940 confirmed reinfections in Washington residents, and 2%, or 619 of those people, were hospitalized with their reinfection, state data show.

Reinfections, much like breakthrough cases, have increased with the omicron wave. The variant is more effective at evading current COVID vaccines than the delta variant was. Similarly, people who tested positive during the delta wave are not necessarily immune to the omicron variant.

There have been 326,338 breakthrough infections confirmed statewide in the last year. A breakthrough infection is when a person who is two weeks past their second dose of a mRNA vaccine or Johnson & Johnson vaccination tests positive.

Hospitalization data is not available for the majority of breakthrough infections confirmed by the Department of Health. Of the reported cases, 2% resulted in hospitalization.

Here’s a look at local numbers

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 357 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths.

There are 196 patients hospitalized in Spokane County.

The Panhandle Health District reported 300 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths.

There have been 868 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

There are 103 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Kootenai Health was treating 94 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday.

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.