Fueled by the delta variant, 500,000 cases of coronavirus have now been identified in Washington state
The number of coronavirus cases in Washington state has exceeded 500,000, with a further increase in cases fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant.
The state Department of Health confirmed the grim milestone on Wednesday afternoon, more than a year and a half after the nation’s first case was confirmed in Washington. State health officials reported 3,095 new cases confirmed as of Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 500,434.
The DOH also reported 17 new deaths and 147 new hospitalizations on Wednesday. With the update, accurate as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, 6,204 people in Washington have died from COVID-19 and 28,072 people have been hospitalized.
Wednesday’s update was the second largest single-day increase in reported cases in the state since January. More than 5,000 new cases were reported on August 2.
Authorities have attributed the recent increase in cases and hospitalizations to the delta variant. As of last week, the delta variant accounted for 76% of cases sequenced in Washington. More than 94% of all cases, deaths and hospitalizations for ages 12 and over have been linked to people who were not fully immunized.
Now, just over a month after the state lifted most pandemic restrictions and Washingtonians celebrated a long-awaited reopening, familiar fears have returned.
Healthcare leaders are sounding the alarm bells as intensive care units and emergency rooms fill up statewide. Mask-wearing recommendations are back – including a new indoor mandate in Snohomish County – as well as new vaccination requirements.
A growing number of restaurants and bars in Seattle now require proof of vaccination, and Gov. Jay Inslee this week announced a general mandate requiring most state employees and healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by the 18th. October.
Since vaccinations became available late last year, state and health care providers have administered approximately 8.2 million doses and 53.3% of Washingtonians have been fully immunized against the coronavirus, according to the most recent state data. Providers currently administer an average of about 10,382 vaccines per day.