New week-to-week King County COVID-19 cases up 60%

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Coronavirus cases are rising in King County, a trend the county's health officer described as "worrisome."

Dr. Jeff Duchin on Friday reported 156 new cases over the previous week — a 60% increase.

“There seems to be a misperception that because we’re re-opening, the risk of COVID-19 has receded,” he said. “But the truth is that the virus is still widespread in the community.”

Duchin said the largest increase in new cases is among adults, ages 20 to 39.

Most do not need to go to the hospital, so there’s still plenty of bed capacity, but that could change as those younger people interact with others who are older and sicker.

It can take two or three weeks before hospitals feel the effects of any big changes in the community, so health officials are watching all the signs closely in case they feel the need to recommend to county leaders to slow the re-opening of businesses.

“I am worried that if people don’t behave in the way that’s going to decrease transmission, we may head in that direction,” Duchin said. “I hope that’s not the case,” Duchin said.

Staying home remains the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said, adding that people who go out should wear face masks and practice social distancing.

On Friday, a mask directive took effect statewide. King County has had a similar order since May.

The increase in cases comes at a time that testing capacity in King County has doubled.

“We have not been able to identify any specific venue or specific risk factor as a cause of this increase,” Duchin said. “Household exposures continue to be the most commonly reported risk factor.”

Duchin said the data supports that recent demonstrations for racial and social justice have not been coronavirus hotspots. Of more than 1,000 recent COVID-19 patients, only 34 reported participating in protests.

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