The latest news on reopening phases and vaccine distribution

By: Rachel Smith Posted: 03/29/2021

We have made significant progress, but we must stay vigilant

As we enter new eligibility and reopening phases here in Washington, there continue to be critical dynamics at play as we balance vaccination with recovery. We continue to partner with King County, to bring you real-time relevant information on public health developments, including vaccine distribution.

The good news is that we have made significant progress. However, especially with more contagious variants circulating, we must stay the course on the measures we know are effective at reducing the spread of the virus: wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance in public spaces, washing our hands, gathering outdoors when possible, making sure that indoor spaces have good airflow and ventilation, and getting the vaccine once you are eligible.

Reopening, Case Counts, and What You Can Do
On Monday, March 22, Washington state moved into Phase 3 of the Governor’s ‘Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery’ and counties will be individually evaluated every three weeks with the first evaluation scheduled for April 12. This means capacity at businesses has increased, but we encourage everyone to continue proceeding with caution.

Over the last week, King County has been reporting 177 new cases daily, which is an increasing trend since early March. Over the last full week, there has been a 26% increase from the week prior. If we let up now, particularly with what we’re learning about variants of concern, we could see more illness and deaths, along with possible reclosure of the economy as we’ve seen in Europe. Currently, King County has cases identified with each of the three major variants – B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil).

Employers play a major role in preventing outbreaks! This includes:

  • Implementing social distancing and mask use
  • Increasing indoor air quality with better ventilation, such as opening doors and windows
  • Creating a work environment culture where employees know it’s not only safe, but expected, to stay home if they’re sick or exposed to those who have COVID-19
  • Encouraging vaccinations when employees are eligible to receive one

Vaccination Update
King County continues to make strong progress on reaching our goal of vaccinating 70% of the population across all races, ethnicities, and ages. We have now seen increased eligibility, with the move into phase 1B2, which includes high-risk critical workers, people who are pregnant, and people with a disability that puts them at a higher risk for severe COVID-19. The Governor also announced extended eligibility to begin on March 31, which will add upwards of 430,000 additional King County residents who will be eligible. Overall, 1.2 million residents may be eligible under the existing and expanding criteria.

It’s great news that more people are now eligible to be vaccinated, however vaccine supply has not yet caught up with this expansion with only one first dose available for every eight eligible people in King County. We anticipate supply to remain stable over the next several weeks, but with no additional supply.

In King County, we have administered over 880,000 doses, with nearly 575,000 residents started on a vaccine series, which is approximately 31% of King County residents ages 16 and older. Over 306,000 residents have been fully vaccinated, which is approximately 16.5% of King County residents ages 16 and older.

We’ve also made great strides in narrowing the racial and ethnic gaps in line with our equity principles – rates of Latinx and Black/African American older adults aged 65+ and 75+ are receiving vaccines approaching the rate of White older adults, with additional progress needed in order to reach 70% coverage among those adults aged 65+.

Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People
The CDC have issued guidance for fully vaccinated people. This means it has been two weeks or more since people have received the second dose in a 2-dose vaccine series (like Moderna or Pfizer) or since a single-dose vaccine (like Johnson & Johnson). We are still learning how well vaccines prevent the spread of COVID-19, and how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people. Updates are ongoing, but the latest actions include:

  • Gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask
  • Gather indoors without masks with unvaccinated people from no more than one household. However, don’t gather indoors without masks if any of those people, or anyone they live with, has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
See and Share the Latest
Seattle- King County Public Health has posted visuals to represent our progress towards total vaccinations across several platforms, including Facebook (Spanish post here), Twitter, and Instagram.