New data: Washington state COVID-19 weekly fatalities dip below 100 for first time in a month

A message on Interstate 5 near Seattle this weekend. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A total of 92 people died from COVID-19 in the past week in Washington state, about half the number at the peak three weeks ago, the latest official numbers show.

It’s the first time the number of weekly fatalities in the state has dropped below 100 in more than a month, according to GeekWire’s calculations.

The dark blue line above represents the number of weekly reported COVID-19 fatalities in Washington state, calculated from state Department of Health data. (GeekWire Graphic)

The total number of weekly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 1,684 for the week, up 11% from the prior week.

But that jump in cases coincided with an increase in reported tests. On multiple days during the past week, more than 6,000 daily tests were conducted in the state, about 1,000-2,000 more daily tests than were conducted in prior weeks. The limited availability of testing has kept the number of confirmed cases artificially low.

New daily hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the state have fallen into the single digits, after peaking at more than 80 new daily hospitalizations in late March, according to a report released this weekend by the state Department of Health.

WA State Department of Health Graphic

Washington is among 19 states where the numbers of daily deaths have “moved away from the exponential growth curve,” according to an analysis by Seattle health data startup MDmetrix.

The solid blue line with red dots in is the number of reported COVID-19 deaths in the state each day, the red line represents an exponential growth curve, and the dotted blue lines are “control limits” that indicate whether growth is on an exponential path. See full primer below. (MDmetrix Chart.)

The first known epicenter of COVID-19 in the country, Washington is now 18th among US states with about 15,000 total cases as of this weekend.

State officials are watching these trends closely as they prepare to gradually relax restrictions in the state. Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday extended the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order for another month, while laying out a four-phase plan to ultimately reopen workplaces, restaurants and other parts of daily life.

Inslee on Friday cited new projections from the Institute for Disease Modeling, predicting that the rate of infection will climb again if restrictions are lifted too aggressively.

Institute for Disease Modeling Graphic

Increased testing will be key, Inslee said. The state was previously limited to around 4,000 daily tests, he said, not because of processing capacity but due to shortages in available testing kits and swabs. He said the goal is have “several times that to be able to make sure everyone who needs a test can get a test very quickly.”

WA State Department of Health Graphic

Approximately 200,000 tests for COVID-19 have been given in the state, or about 2.6% of the state’s population, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Washington is 10th in the country in total number of tests given. New York state is first with about 985,000 tests given, or 5.8% of the population.

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