WSDH makes progress in pandemic with more focus on hospitalizations, less on case counts – Status of Reform
Washington health officials are placing less emphasis on the number of COVID-19 cases and focusing more on hospitalizations.
Get the latest information on state-specific policies for the healthcare sector delivered to your inbox.
On Wednesday, staff from the Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) provided an update on the pandemic. Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah said BA.2 is still the dominant variant in Washington and its representation in the state’s total case count has increased in recent weeks.
BA.2 accounted for about 50% of positive cases in the state a few weeks ago, Shah said. But that’s now more than 90%, he said.
That led to a slight increase in the number of cases in Washington, Shah said. The state’s seven-day case rate per 100,000 people was 84.7 April 5-11compared to 40.2 from March 14 to 20.
“But luckily we haven’t seen an increase in serious illnesses,” Shah said. “As we went through the different waves, we saw an increase in COVID-19 cases. We have focused less on case counts for a number of reasons. What we’re really monitoring are hospitalizations. The most important thing for us is health care capacity.
The state’s seven-day hospital admission rate was 2.7% from April 7-13, a slight increase from 4.1 from March 7-13.
The decision to put less emphasis on case numbers is based on a variety of factors, Shah said.
A main factor is that many people test at home. WSDH has been instrumental in the effort to distribute home tests to residents. The department has sent 1 million test kits to residents through its Say yes! To the COVID test program.
“There are four or five tests per kit, which is just under five million tests that have been sent to residents of Washington,” Shah said. “As people are testing from home, we don’t see as much information in our test tallies.”
State Communicable Disease Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said the state’s transition to a lower focus on case counts represents the public learning to live with COVID.
“The need to count every case is unrealistic and won’t be as useful as it has been in the past,” Lindquist said. “When we first had this pandemic, it was essential to know each case. As we have shifted our strategies to people testing at home, the strategy shifts to counting each case. The monitoring system is currently under construction. What matters are the dead. We had less than six deaths today. This is territory we haven’t been in for a long time.
Lindquist also discussed ending the federal mask mandate for travelers on planes and public transportation.
“We adhere to federal laws regarding what is mandatory, but we still recommend masks,” Lindquist said. “A lot of people don’t wear masks on the ferry but I, personally, always do. We follow national guidelines, but we still believe the need is good for masks, and you should always have a mask on you. »