Washington state reports 700+ new COVID-19 cases, highest daily total since outbreak began
GeekWire Chart Washington state is seeing a continued resurgence of COVID-19, reporting a record 728 confirmed cases on Thursday, the highest daily total yet in the state that was the first known U.S. epicenter of the disease. But this second surge is different.
First, hospitalizations remain well below their prior daily peak, generally in the range of 20 to 30 a day, vs. more than 80 a day at the previous height of the outbreak in late March and early April.
Washington State Department of Health Charts Second, there have been significantly fewer COVID-19 deaths in recent weeks, with none reported on some days, vs. more than 30 daily deaths three months ago.
So what’s going on? One possible explanation comes from the Institute for Disease Modeling, which says in a new report that the changing demographics of the disease — particularly the spread among younger populations — are impacting death and hospitalization rates in Washington state.
We found that cases have recently been shifting to younger age groups. People under age 35 represented 22% of cases in January to March, and by May/June represented 46% of cases. Conversely, people over age 75 represented 16% of cases in March, and by May/June represented 6% of cases. Cases are also increasingly concentrated in Hispanic people, who, while making up 13% of Washington’s population, have accounted for 58% of COVID-19 cases with known race and ethnicity since the beginning of May. On a per-capita basis, non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian people or Other Pacific Islanders now have the highest risk of disease.
While the overall number of cases have recently been increasing, COVID-19 deaths have been decreasing. This is likely primarily driven by the caseload shifting to younger people, who have a substantially lower COVID-19 mortality risk. Testing proportions by age have remained fairly consistent over time, which reinforces the conclusion of a true shift in the epidemic to a younger population.
The increase in positive results also coincides with more testing. The number of daily tests has more than doubled in recent weeks in the state.
Separately, a state Department of Health report also finds that the pandemic is disproportionately impacting people of color.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday ordered businesses not to serve customers who don’t wear masks in response to rising coronavirus cases around the state.