COVID-19 cases on the rise in Washington state, health department says

SEATTLE — The Washington Department of Health says coronavirus infections are on the increase in the eastern and western sides of the state.

The situation report from DOH says state epidemiologists have seen particularly large increases in Benton, Yakima, Spokane and Franklin counties, but said the latest data through the end of May indicates likely increases in infections across the state.

The results, the report says, include increases in coronavirus transmission over Memorial Day weekend, but not infections that may have occurred during recent protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people together in cities and towns across Washington.

“The trends we’re seeing point to the critical importance of actions we can all take, like staying six feet apart and wearing cloth face coverings whenever we’re in public, as well as a need for increased response in these harder hit areas,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer at DOH, in the report.

“We’re working closely with the Governor’s Office, local officials and partners to identify additional ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in these regions. Every single person in our state can and must do their part to help by following public health recommendations.”

Gov. Jay Inslee warned that the report indicates that “cases and deaths will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at the current levels," according to The Seattle Times.

“Washingtonians have done the hard work to flatten the curve on COVID-19 and we know this has been tremendously difficult for families, businesses and communities over the past few months,” the governor said.

He said outbreaks in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties are of “particular concern” and said he joined scientists and health and political leaders in those communities during a conference Saturday.

The DOH report states that six Washington counties -- Yakima, Klickitat, Benton, Franklin, Spokane and Stevens -- have not yet reached their peak number of COVID-19 cases.

Trends in western Washington have been showing lower numbers of confirmed cases, but small pockets of increases are still being observed.

As of Sunday evening, Washington state has reported 25,834 positive COVID-19 cases and 1,217 deaths.