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Washington sees 1,500 new cases a day of COVID-19 in recent days

Hospital occupancy is at the highest levels seen to date in 2021, with more than 600 people hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of more than 20% from last week.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state has seen an average of 1,500 new cases a day of COVID-19 over the past four days, and health officials said Tuesday they are concerned about not only a rise in cases but hospitalizations due to the highly contagious delta variant. 

The Department of Health (DOH) said that hospital occupancy is at the highest levels seen to date this year, with more than 600 people hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of more than 20% from last week. 

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has also climbed rapidly to 5.5%, up from a low of 2% a month ago, according to the DOH.

"The highly contagious delta variant, which is a more transmissible strain of the virus, is the dominant strain in Washington making up roughly 76% of sequenced cases," the DOH said in a news release.

Officials say that more than 94% of all recent cases, deaths, and hospitalizations in Washingtonians 12 years of age and older involve people who have not been fully vaccinated.

“Higher vaccination rates across the state are needed to protect our communities,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah. “If there was ever a time to get vaccinated, it is now in the race against this variant.”

As of Aug. 2, 69.6% of the state's population age 12 and up has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the DOH.