Several western Washington counties experiencing high levels of COVID-19 infection

COVID-19 cases are rising across the state of Washington.

According to the state department of health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several counties — including King, Skagit, and Snohomish — are experiencing high levels of community infection.

Experts say new variants like BA.5 are responsible for a majority of cases.

With the rise in cases, experts are urging people to take preventative measures immediately, especially those who are at high risk for severe illness.

Health officials are recommending people wear masks indoors and on public transportation, preferably with an N95 or KN95 mask, as they offer the best protection.

Experts also encourage people to get tested soon after experiencing any kind of symptom.

Right now, the state health department says it is experiencing 328 cases per 100,000 residents, and hospitals are again seeing more and more COVID-19 patients.

“Our hospitalizations have increased threefold since April, and over the past week, we’ve seen 21 COVID-19 hospitalizations per day, which is about one person hospitalized each hour, around the clock,” health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a media briefing earlier this week.

Duchin said one of the most important steps to take right now is getting boosted.

Even with the new variants infecting those who have gotten their boosters, Duchin said vaccinations still provide the best protection.

Duchin also said there is a lot of concern with people dealing with long COVID as well.

“Even if long COVID affects only one to 10 percent of all COVID cases, based on a conservative estimate of the number of cases in King County, long COVID is impacting tens to hundreds of thousands of King County residents already,” Duchin said.