SEATTLE - Health officials say COVID is exploding in our state and the CDC is recommending people mask up in six counties in an effort to curb new infections.
The statewide seven-day case rate is around 241 new cases per 100,000 people, and 10% of all hospital beds are being used by COVID patients. Officials say 68% of the state’s population has received at least two doses of the vaccine.
As the holiday weekend continues, health officials warn COVID remains a threat for our most vulnerable neighbors.
"It’s nice, the weather is so nice," said Tessa Sharp. "We can be outside, so that’s probably the best."
Sharp and her pal Harrison Cook hit the water on kayaks, and both agree that COVID can sometimes feel like a distant memory.
"I feel safe," said Cook. "A coworker just got it, but he’s doing okay. I think if we’re on the water, we will be far from people."
But escape is not our reality as COVID remains nearly everywhere across Washington State. Health officials say cases are rising fast with 200 new cases being reported among six counties; Garfield, Spokane, Lewis, Pacific, Grays Harbor and Thurston Counties.
"We have seen a slight uptick in deaths in hospitalizations across the state since May," said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett from the Washington State Department of Health. "The uptick in deaths remains stable at this time."
Most people who spoke with FOX 13 News shared concern that the disease is continuing to impact many, and that they planned to continue wearing masks to protect others.
Yet, other people shared a sentiment that the summer 2022 season should mean the end of lockdowns, and that mask mandates were long destined to history.
"I’m trying to live my life," said Dillon Frederick. I’m trying to live my life, not be too close to crowds. That’s why we are outside."
Frederickson’s friend shared similar sentiment.
"I never wore one," said Sean Cintas. "I never liked it. I am back to normal."
But what is normal, is that COVID is not over. Health officials insist wearing masks indoors can help protect yourself and those you love, and those who contiue working the front line of a seemingly endless pandemic.
"Hospital and emergency departments are reporting significant stress such as workforce shortages and difficulty to discharge patients," said Kwan-Gett.