18 November 2020 02:42

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This post will be updated with information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Washington state. Washington Governor Jay Inslee announces new pick for health secretary "Dr. Shah brings an unrivaled expertise, knowledge and passion for public health," Inslee said in a press release announcing the appointment. "His leadership will help us lead Washington state through the next crucial phase of this pandemic." Shah's appointment comes as Inslee prepares to begin a third term and as the state, and the nation, are experiencing record new daily cases of Covid-19 and exponential growth in the pandemic. This week, Inslee imposed new restrictions on businesses and indoor gatherings in an effort to contain the rapidly spreading virus. "Even with good infection control precautions, it's hard to interrupt the spread of this virus in close congregate settings like long-term care facilities," he said.


Spitters blamed the outbreak on the overall spread of Covid-19 in the community, saying the virus came into the facility with staff and visitors. Covid case numbers still concerning--After a record-breaking weekend and three straight days of Washington reporting more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases, a dip in the numbers finally came Monday. Not only have daily cases doubled over the past week, but coronavirus hospitalizations have also increased by about 40%. The UW Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that Washington will have about 115 daily deaths by the end of February if the state doesn't have restrictions. But the state Employment Security Department says many of the affected workers can restart suspended benefits and avoid repayment if they file a new claim with the department.

The ESD says that switch from federal to state unemployment services is largely why Washington saw a 71% spike in claims last week. Some economists, including two with ESD, suggested the spike in claims might reflect a combination of factors, including seasonal layoffs and cuts by employers responding to surging cases of Covid-19. Small businesses react to Washington's new Covid-related restrictions--Small businesses are reacting to Washington Governor Jay Inslee's new Covid-related restrictions. Krueger says she believes this "third wave" of Covid could have been avoided. Inslee says he'll tap $50 million in federal CARES Act money to provide some relief to businesses.--Grant County Health officials are asking more than 300 people to self quarantine for a week after attending a wedding in Ritzville on November 7. At least 17 cases and two different outbreaks have been tied to the wedding which was held despite a limit on the number of guests. Health officials say those who attended came from different communities and they're concerned the outbreak could spread to other counties.--The University of Washington says a coronavirus outbreak that started in September has now infiltrated more than half of its sororities and fraternities. At least 372 cases have been reported within the university's Greek community as of Monday. Locals aim to support Capitol Hill restaurants as restrictions set in He says he felt like people were just starting to get more comfortable with indoor dining before the new restrictions were announced. We know it's going to be a tough time coming within the next week or two, especially now with the closures."--With coronavirus cases on the rise across Washington state, hospitals are getting ready for a surge of patients. Hospital officials are urging people to avoid indoor social gatherings in order to knock down the Covid-19 case numbers. Cassie Sauer is president and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association. People saying 'I've been following the rules for eight months, but I'm not giving up my Thanksgiving.' And the possibility that two weeks after Thanksgiving we could have an explosion of cases is truly terrifying." Just last week, the number of Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalization increased by 40% across Washington. Many of Governor Inslee's new restrictions are now in effect, including a ban on indoor gatherings from people outside your household. If people want to avoid coming in altogether, Schroeder says more of their stores are now offering curbside pickup.--Washington Governor Jay Inslee's new Covid restrictions have set off another wave of panic buying. Tammie Hetrick with the Washington Food Industry Association represents independent grocers and said Monday that there's no reason to panic. Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions Sunday for Washington to help limit the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise across the state. Gov. Inslee bans indoor gatherings and dining as part of new COVID-19 restrictions State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy joined the governor to help explain some of the rationale behind the new COVID restrictions, adding that they do not make these decisions lightly. "The current trajectory of this pandemic has put us in a really difficult position as a state," she said. "We are extremely concerned about how quickly COVID-19 is spreading through our state," Dr. Lofy added. Over the past two weeks, she explained, the number of cases reported each day in Washington has more than doubled, from about 1,000 to more than 2,200 cases per day. If that doubling continues, Lofy says, then in two more weeks the state will see over 4,000 cases per day. What's especially concerning for Lofy and local health officials is that during the past week, the number of patients currently in local hospitals with COVID-19 increased by about 40%. "We will eventually exceed the capacity in our hospitals to adequately care for all patients, including patients with and without COVID, and ultimately will lead to more deaths." "When cases are accelerating, we need to act early because the effects of the measures that we put in place this week will not be shown in the data for another three weeks," she added. Seattle nurse: 'We need to make sacrifices' amid new lockdown restrictions The measures announced by the governor are intended to reduce opportunities for prolonged, indoor contact with people outside of one's household, which has been shown to be a primary risk factor for the spread of the virus. "Over the course of the pandemic, we've learned a lot about how this virus is transmitted," Lofy said. "We also know that a primary risk factor for spreading the virus is contact with an infected person in indoor spaces," she added. Unfortunately, while more is known about how the virus spreads, it's still difficult to pinpoint exactly where COVID-19 is being transmitted, which Lofy says is a problem that's not unique to Washington. "When we interview cases, it's often difficult to determine with certainty where the individual was infected because they often have more than one potential exposure, because many people may not remember all their activities in the 14 days before becoming ill, or may not want to share all their activities with us," Lofy said. Occasionally, health officials are able to identify where two or more infections have occurred, which is considered an outbreak. Because of the limits in data about where transmission is occurring, Lofy says they have to rely on the science around how the virus is spread, and reports of outbreak investigations in other areas. "Our leading national infectious disease experts at the Infectious Disease Society of America have stated that eating indoors at restaurants, going to an indoor gym, attending a church service with singing, going to bars, and going to movie theaters are activities that put us at high-risk for spread of COVID-19," Lofy said. "A recent CDC study also reported that dining in a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop was associated with an increased risk for COVID-19." The new restrictions, which ban indoor gatherings and indoor dining were made with the hope of limiting some of the highest risk activities for the spread of COVID-19, and should be able to help Washington state flatten the curve, again. "Flattening this curve is essential to saving lives and ensuring that our hospitals don't become overwhelmed with COVID cases, like we're seeing in many hospitals in the Midwest and elsewhere in the country," Lofy said.