Washington health officials warn of omicron wave
Health officials are anticipating another wave of coronavirus infections as the new, more contagious omicron variant spreads.
According to Washington State Department of Health data, the omicron variant is rapidly catching up to the dominant variant, delta.
At the beginning of December, omicron accounted for .2% of sequenced COVID-19 cases. By December 18, that climbed to nearly 25%.
The Department of Health says an increase in hospitalizations is likely coming, and noted that vaccines will protect against serious illness and hospitalization, but not all infections.
Lacy Fehrenbach, the department’s deputy secretary for COVID response, says everyone should prepare by getting a booster, purchasing a better mask and at home testing kits.
“We are in a challenging time," she said, "but Washington has pulled together so well throughout the pandemic to make a huge difference in severe disease and death from COVID, and we’re really calling on you to stick with us through this next wave and continue doing that.”
Omicron has been detected in 16 counties in Washington, with the majority of cases in King and Pierce Counties. Within the last week, omicron infections were reported in Spokane, Franklin, Benton and Yakima counties.