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Officials: COVID-19 activity intensifying in Washington

If not brought under control, the spike could jeopardize progress toward reopening schools, strain the health care system and increase risks during the holidays.

SEATTLE — State health officials say a new COVID-19 report shows an increase in cases and hospitalizations throughout Washington. 

Officials say if not brought under control, the spike could jeopardize progress toward reopening schools, strain the health care system and increase risks during the holiday season.

In an updated situation report released Wednesday, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said the virus is spreading faster in western Washington than eastern Washington, but is rising on both sides of the Cascades. 

The growth is particularly high in the 25 to 39 and 40 to 59 age groups and in the Puget Sound region, including King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, according to the report.

Officials say estimates show each new COVID-19 patient is infecting 1.34 others, on average, in western Washington. In eastern Washington the average infection rate is 1.12. The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission in the state is declining. 

“High rates in the community increase the chance that someone at your gathering—even people you know well and trust—could have COVID-19. If we act now, we can get these increases in control in time for the holidays," said Deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach.

Officials say people should be wearing a mask around people they don't live with, even close friends and family, and limiting the number, size, and frequency of gatherings. People should continue to wash their hands frequently and get a flu shot to help prevent the spread of illness this fall. 

As of Wednesday, there are 104,743 coronavirus cases in the state, including 2,353 deaths, according to the DOH