King County and Seattle see a massive surge in COVID cases

Public health officials for Seattle and King County announced Thursday they are seeing a massive surge in COVID-19 cases due in large part to the delta variant.

Over the last week, reports show an average of 344 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health Seattle and King County. Duchin said those numbers are nearly twice as high as the cases from the previous week.

Duchin explained that most of these cases are among unvaccinated people, and the best way to protect yourself from getting seriously sick is by getting vaccinated.

Proving you are vaccinated is a trend some business owners are starting to adopt.

"If you want to interact with our staff, you have to show proof of vaccination. Period. Outside {seating}, inside {seating}; protecting them is my number one priority," said Tommy Pappas, the owner and general manager of The Hotel Albatross in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

The pandemic shut down his business for seven months — now that the hotel is back open, Pappas wants to do everything he can to prevent that from happening again.

"We just don’t want to see any more restaurants shut down. We don’t want to see the spread get larger so we have to go into different phases again, lockdown again, or shut down again."

Despite no state mandates requiring it, Pappas created new policies for his business last week. Staff members are required to mask up and patrons must show proof of vaccination.

For business owners like Pappas, there is reason to worry. 

On Thursday, The health department released information about three recent break-out events that happened at different businesses. 

The businesses were not named, but specifics about what happened were released.

The first reported outbreak occurred in the middle of July at a club. The health department reported 26 infections. Out of those 26, 18 of the infections were from people who reported they were vaccinated. No hospitalizations or deaths were reported. 

The second outbreak happened at a gym during a charity event. Public Health Seattle and King County report 16 people were infected. Of those 16 cases, 14 people were verified to be fully vaccinated.

In early July, health officials report an outbreak at a daycare. Thirty-six people were infected, according to the report.

However, despite these incidents, Pappas said people are still harassing him for his decision to add extra safety precautions.

"I’ve been called names, we’ve had some mean messages on social media, there was a couple of individuals who were going through online giving us one-star reviews even though they’ve never been in the place," said Pappas.

Despite the backlash, Pappas said he stands by the decision, and for the most part, the community appears to support the self-imposed safety precautions.

There are still about 370,000 people in King County who are eligible, but who have not been vaccinated, according to health officials.

If you are interested in getting vaccinated, you can find out how to do so by clicking here.

RELATED: Delta plus variant: What it is and how it differs from other coronavirus strains

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