TACOMA, Wash. - With the holiday season fast approaching, health officials across the state are getting increasingly worried about the spread of COVID-19. This week, multiple counties have had record-high numbers for newly reported cases. On Wednesday, Pierce County’s number hit 214 newly reported cases.
The change in seasons is of course a factor health officials say is playing into the rise in COVID-19 cases. But there’s something else: COVID-19 fatigue.
“It's hard because the kids miss their friends, and I just want to go to a restaurant and eat there for like three hours surrounded by a big group of people,” said Kristin Luippold, a mother of three in Tacoma.
As the pandemic goes on, doctors say some grow impatient and let their guard down, have more gatherings, and thus cases spread. Luippold said she understands the temptation.
“We just want to be able to have friends over and host a Christmas eve party and we're not doing that and so it’s depressing but we're trying to tell ourselves this is a short time, if you look at it long-term, it’s a short season in our lives," she said.
Luippold and her family are focused on continuing to do their part to slow spread, no matter how tough it can be. Instead of focusing on what they can’t do because of COVID-19, they’re embracing the new way of life. She said they try to come up with really creative ways to try to celebrate those traditions in a safe way.
A sentiment that’s appreciated by the Tacoma Pierce County health department, especially after an increase in cases. The average case rate is more than 150 cases per 100,000. On September 17 it was 50 per 100,000. To put that into better perspective, the state won't send kids back to school until the rate is 75 per 100,000. And for schools to reopen fully, the recommended number is under 25 per 100,000.
“I expected to see cases rise but it's a big number,” said Kelly Rybachuk of Tacoma.
Rybachuk, who is a nurse and mother, understands people being tired of all the COVID protocols.
“I'm tired of wearing a mask too, I’m tired just having to think about it,” Rybachuk said.
But she’s also witnessed how COVID can severely affect people, and then hardly affect others. As numbers go up, and some may feel restless, she said she hopes everyone will just try to be sensitive and kind to one another.
“The hardest thing for me is seeing how divisive it can be when people have differentiating opinions," said Rybachuk.
It’s not just Pierce County seeing record high numbers. King County Health Department says they’ve also reached their peak this week. On October 29th they had just under 400 cases. As of Wednesday, they have reported 559 cases, but they caution that does not mean all the cases came from today, or that the number just represents cases reported to their department today. It’s the same with the numbers for all across Washington.
Data from DOH’s website shows on Tuesday, there was over 1400 newly reported cases. While health officials say all those cases may not all necessarily be from the same day, they continue to be extremely concerned about the increasing spread.