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Majority of people getting sick or dying from COVID-19 are unvaccinated, DOH says

A new report from the Department of Health shows between February and June, 97.4% of COVID-19 cases were among those not fully vaccinated.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — More than 94% of all COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Washington state in the last few months have been in people who are not fully vaccinated against the virus, according to a new report released Wednesday by the state Department of Health (DOH). 

The new data shows between February and June 2021, 97.4% of COVID-19 cases were among the unvaccinated, 96% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were in those not fully vaccinated, and 94.3% of deaths related to COVID-19 were also in those not fully vaccinated, according to the report. 

The data was collected from the Washington Disease Reporting System and the Washington Immunization Information System, which does not include all federal correction facilities and federal healthcare organizations. The data looked at COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations in individuals 12 years or older. 

The report highlights the importance of vaccines in fighting COVID-19, especially as the more contagious delta variant of the virus gains a stronghold in the state. 

“We urge those who are eligible to get vaccinated. If they still have questions, we encourage them to speak to their healthcare provider,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah in the report. “We all have a role to protect our community, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

On Tuesday, the DOH released a separate report stating that COVID-19 vaccination rates are not increasing quickly enough to get control of the virus. 

The delta variant is now the dominant strain in circulation, according to that report, making up almost 58% of the cases that went through genetic sequencing between June 20 and July 3. 

The DOH’s projections estimate that on July 19, 92% of cases in the state could be from the delta variant.

As of July 26, 61.5% of people age 12 and up in Washington state have been fully vaccinated, according to the state's COVID-19 data dashboard. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday recommended all Washingtonians, regardless of vaccination status, resume wearing masks indoors to help prevent the spread of the virus, suggesting the state is seeing a "fifth wave" of the pandemic due to the delta variant. 

“We know the dominant variant today is the delta variant, it is twice as infectious, it is more likely to cause serious illness and it is easily the most dangerous mutation to date of this virus. And we know it is trending upward," Inslee said.

While masking up is only a recommendation at this point and not a mandate, students and staff in K-12 schools will be required to wear masks when schools return to in-person learning this fall, according to Inslee. 

The governor's masking decision puts Washington in line with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday, recommending people return to wearing masks

Inslee said Wednesday the path forward out of the pandemic is more vaccinations, and teased some more incentives for getting those vaccines in the coming weeks, but did not offer additional details.