Washington among states putting brakes on some reopening plans amid spike in COVID-19 cases

VIDEO: COVID-19 cases increase in Washington

SEATTLE — “The worst is yet to come,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization.

It’s a harsh reality check from the World Health Organization.

It comes as local officials urge vigilance as the virus surges through the Washington state. It’s prompted Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary John Wiesman from the Washington State Department of Health to put the brakes on some reopening plans. Eight counties were eligible to move to phase 4, but that’s now on hold. The announcement came on the same day the state saw its second -biggest one -day spike in cases since the start of the pandemic — with 554 new cases reported Saturday.

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It's clear we are not out of the woods yet.

“There seems to be a misperception that because we’re reopening, the risk of COVID-19 has receded. But the truth is that the virus is still widespread in the community,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin with Public Health — Seattle & King County.

On Friday, King County reported cases of COVID-19 rose by 60% from the week before. The largest increase is in young adults - ages 20-39. So far, officials don't believe the protests are contributing to the spike. No specific place or activity has been identified as the cause.

But one factor, which the contact tracing team from Public Health — Seattle & King County

revealed last week, is that only 21% of people in King County are isolating the day they first develop symptoms.

“So if you spend five days, on average, infectious and still going out. That’s a problem. And we need to shorten that window where you’re out in the public, potentially transmitting,” said Dr. Matthew Golden of Public Health — Seattle & King County.

Officials are trying to get the word out: At the first inkling of a symptom, people should get tested and stay home.

The other tool to fight the disease are masks, which are now required statewide.

Inslee discussed it on Face the Nation.

“This is the way to open our economy. If that’s all people cared about, if we get people to mask up, and we can reopen our economy, that would be a good day for everyone,” Inslee said.