Officials: COVID-19 activity intensifying in Washington

SEATTLE (AP) — State health officials say a new COVID-19 report shows an increase in cases and hospitalizations throughout Washington.

If not brought under control, officials said the spike could jeopardize progress toward reopening schools, strain the health care system and increase risks during the holiday season.

In an updated situation report released Wednesday, the state Department of Health said the virus is spreading faster in Western Washington than Eastern Washington, but is rising on both sides of the Cascades.

Estimates show each new COVID-19 patient is infecting 1.34 others, on average, in Western Washington. In Eastern Washington the average infection rate is 1.12.

The goal is a number well below one, which would mean COVID-19 transmission is declining, officials said.

“High rates in the community increase the chance that someone at your gathering — even people you know well and trust —could have COVID-19,” Deputy Secretary of Health Lacy Fehrenbach said in a news release. “If we act now, we can get these increases in control in time for the holidays.”

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