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How bad is it? What data says about Washington's coronavirus outlook

Even with 95% of residents wearing masks, the state could see 36 deaths a day in February. If the state eased restrictions, that number could hit 115 daily deaths.

Pierce County health authorities reported 218 more COVID-19 cases on Monday, Nov. 16, bringing the average number of cases per day over the past two weeks to nearly 190.  A week ago it was 170, according to the Washington Department of Health (DOH) dashboard. The target is an average of 25 new cases.

While Washington COVID-19 case numbers are climbing, there are also more tests being conducted. But perhaps the most important number is how many of those tests come out positive. Anything over 2% is a concern.  

Numbers from last week show King County with 4.2% rate of positive tests. Snohomish County had 6.6% and Pierce County was slightly higher at 6.8%. Small Pacific County, in the southwest corner of the state, stood at 12%. Clark County, just north of Portland, Ore. reported 14% of positive tests last week.

Washington’s dashboards provide insight into where the state stands in relation to whether it’s losing the battle against the pandemic, or winning it. The numbers are not moving in a positive direction.

The Washington DOH Phase and Risk Assessment interactive dashboard presents a comprehensive picture by county of the rate per 100,000 newly diagnosed cases. But, perhaps even more important, the number of licensed beds occupied in the state is now at a statewide average of 62%. Over 80% is considered worrisome. 

Regarding the percentage of licensed beds occupied by patients with COVID-19, below 10% is considered good. Grant, Walla Walla, and Pend Oreille counties are above that rate.  Pend Oreille County, along the Idaho state line, stands at 16.7%. 

The Washington DOH Current Status dashboard includes the number of confirmed cases, which cumulatively stands at 130,040, hospitalizations and deaths by county, along with the epidemiological curves showing the spike in confirmed cases.  

There is also the demographic tab showing who is getting sick by sex and age, race and ethnicity, along with who is more likely to end up in the hospital and dying.

While the state dashboards show us where we are and where we’ve come, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME) paints a bigger picture. 

See IMHE COVID-19 projections

IMHE looks not only at the world, but looks at the granularity of the states as well, and Washington is heading for tough times. 

Even with 95% of residents wearing masks, the state could see 36 deaths a day by the middle of February. If the state continued to ease restrictions, that number could reach nearly 115 daily deaths by February 22. The data does not yet incorporate Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest restrictions.

But it’s the utilization of the state’s limited hospital resources that presents one of the starkest forecasts. Washington is fine now, but the IMHE projection shows the state would need nearly 794 Intensive Care beds by the second week of February, well over double what's available in hospitals now.