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Washington health experts hope for more personal accountability to slow COVID-19 spike

While recognizing the frustration of pandemic life, health official urge more people to follow COVID-19 guidelines to avoid another stay home order.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — As COVID-19 cases spike significantly, Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, described the moment we're in as an impending car crash

"Cases continue to accelerate in the wrong direction and it's best to hit the brakes before we crash, not after," he said. 

On Friday during a virtual press conference, Duchin said the spike in cases is troubling, no matter what county you're in.

In King County, the seven-day daily average case count is 362, which is the greatest it has ever been. Pierce and Snohomish counties are seeing similar upward trends. 

The reason for the rise, to Dr. Duchin, is very clear. 

"Too many of us are doing too much with little consideration of the consequences of actions on others," he said. 

RELATED: Washington sees another spike in new cases of coronavirus

"Instead of doing outdoor dinners that people were doing in the summertime, they might do indoor dinners or indoor gatherings and many, many people don't wear masks," said Dr. Amy Markezich, director of pulmonology at Overlake Medical Center & Clinics. She also treats COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit.

She says the pattern we see the virus taking is right in line with other respiratory illnesses: it thrives when we spend more time inside, around people. 

Like Duchin, she says patients are being more lax with masks around friends and family. 

"We're all tired of this virus, but this is not the time to be complacent," she said. 

With the holidays approaching, experts say if we don't choose to take the precautions on our own terms, we can expect the government to do the choosing for us.

"We could probably get by without a lockdown if everyone really took this seriously, but if things get really bad to the point where the hospital systems get overwhelmed, I wouldn't be surprised if a lockdown was mandated for a short period of time just to get things under control again," Markezich said. 

Duchin agreed that another stay home order is not out of the cards if we don't take this seriously enough. 

He said when we think about going about our daily lives or seeing people outside your household, think safer, smaller, and smarter. 

RELATED: US hits new COVID-19 daily record with 126,000 confirmed cases