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Young people, variants are driving King County's latest COVID-19 surge

The latest outbreaks are tied to childcare settings, schools and sports leagues, even though many of those places are taking precautions.

SEATTLE — Younger people are primarily driving the latest COVID-19 outbreaks, allowing more contagious variants to spread, King County's health officer said, Friday.

“Cases and hospitalizations are climbing at a steady pace and we don't have any indication this trend will be leveling off soon,” said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin.

Cases are dropping in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes, and that means fewer deaths, he said.

The latest outbreaks are tied to childcare settings, schools, and sports leagues, even though many of those places are taking precautions, Duchin said, and more contagious variants are spreading.

“I'm very concerned about these, we all should be, it's one of the reasons we're seeing increasing cases now despite the fact that we are rolling out vaccination,” Duchin said. “The virus has gotten smarter, it's more fit, it moves more quickly, and it can cause more severe illness.”

Cases are increasing in Pierce and Snohomish counties, as well as statewide, according to the latest DOH data.

Dr. Duchin said he cannot predict how big the surge might be, how long it will last, or how severe it will be, but he said people need to be prepared for more cases and more hospitalizations over the coming weeks.

“The virus is spreading more quickly than we can vaccinate,” he said.