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WA health officials ready to move Covid response to a new phase

Courtesy of National Institutes of Health
Health officials credit in-home testing for keeping recent Covid case increases modest.

Case numbers are up slightly, but not hospitalizations or deaths.

Washington health officials say the state could soon begin moving its Covid response away from a pandemic model to a disease maintenance model.

They say even though the number of Covid cases has increased a bit around the state during the last few weeks, the number of hospitalizations has stayed level or even decreased. Same for the number of Covid-related deaths.

State epidemiologist Scott Lindquist says Covid could be treated more as a chronic condition, like the flu.

“I'm not saying that Covid is going to be exactly like flu, but we are in this transition point of moving away from counting every single case to paying more attention to the variants, to the hospitalizations, to the deaths and having sentinel providers or testing sites alerting us to, yes, we’re seeing an increase in testing or we’re seeing an increase in positivity," Lindquist said.

Health Secretary Umair Shah gives part of the credit for the progress to the state getting more testing kits into homes.

“We have now reached a landmark where we have had one million free test kits that have gone out to the community through our “Say Yes to Covid” test program, which amounts to, if you remember there were four or five tests per test kit, and that’s just shy of five million tests that have been sent out to Washington residents," Shah said.

Shah says 90% of the current cases in Washington are of the BA.2 variant. Omicron accounts for less than 10%.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.