Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday warned that Washington was on the cusp of a fourth COVID-19 wave with case numbers and hospitalizations rising.
He urged people to get vaccinated and to socialize and conduct business outside as much as possible to help further slow the spread of the virus.
“We have to prevent this from taking over the state of Washington,” the Democrat said at a news conference.
Inslee said new COVID-19 cases had grown to more than 1,000 a day, up from 700 a day in February, and that daily new hospitilization rates were now in the 40s compared to the 30s a month ago.
On Monday, Inslee announced that three counties will move back to more strict coronavirus restrictions at the end of the week because of rising cases and hospitalizations.
Starting Friday, Cowlitz, Pierce and Whitman counties will roll back to Phase 2 of the state’s economic reopening plan, which means decreasing capacity for indoor dining at restaurants, retail stores and gyms from 50% to 25%.
Inslee on Thursday said there was good news on the coronavirus front. About half of all adults in the state had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 dose and beginning Thursday all people aged 16 and over are eligible.
He also noted that hospitals are not being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. As of early this week, the Department of Health said there were about 570 people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19. More than 7.6 million people live in Washington.
The governor said he hoped increased vaccination numbers and encouraging people not to congregate indoors will continue to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
“We have knocked down this virus already three times, but we have to knock it down a fourth time,” Inslee said.
In Washington, there have been more than 380,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 5,350 deaths.