Health officers warn of COVID-19 variant cases 'doubling' every two weeks in Washington

A more infectious variant of COVID-19 is growing at a concerning rate in Washington state. Health officers in King County said the increasing case numbers could do more than just impact the health of the community.  

Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health - Seattle & King County provided the concerning new information on Friday during a weekly briefing. He said health officers are worried about variant B117, commonly known as the United Kingdom variant. Duchin explained the proportion of this variant is doubling almost every two weeks in Washington. He also mentioned case numbers from variant B1429 are not far behind.

Currently, there are about 1,000 variant cases in King County, a small sample size according to the local health department. However, the fear is how quickly it is spreading within such a short time frame.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine info: Where to get vaccinated in Washington state

"These are all more infectious viruses that represent a significant and increasing threat to our ability to bring this outbreak under control. We need to up our ante on COVID prevention to stay in the game," said Duchin.

Current COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations in King County are barely under the threshold of a rollback to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan. King County is currently in Phase 3.

Duchin said with the increasing transmission of variants, it could get more people sick and lead to the county moving backward.

"Although most of our older adults are protected through vaccination, not everyone is vaccinated. And when transmission increases in the community, the virus can still find its way to those who are most vulnerable and remain unprotected," said Duchin.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee warns of 4th pandemic wave as vaccine availability opens wide

Though cases and hospitalizations are rising in the county, the good news is the number of COVID-related deaths has fallen dramatically. Now that more than 51 percent of county residents have had at least one dose, health officers said the community is moving in the right direction.

Duchin said communities cannot let up on wearing a mask over the nose, washing hands and maintaining social distance. Though people are feeling COVID fatigue, the safety measures have proven to help lower case numbers.

Governor Jay Inslee said King County will be reassessed on May 3rd to determine its status in the state’s Roadmap to Recovery plan.

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