With cases of the COVID-19 delta variant rising in Washington state, the state's top epidemiologist is recommending that even vaccinated people wear a mask or face covering in crowded indoor places.
Dr. Scott Lindquist said at an online press conference Friday, July 23, that the state is seeing a "fifth wave" of the new coronavirus, driven by the COVID-19 delta strain that is sending more people to the hospital.
The state saw 2,572 new cases reported for Wednesday, July 21, compared to 750 seven days earlier.
"The majority of these hospitalizations can be prevented by people getting vaccinated," Linquist said. "We need to vaccinate so we can minimize the people who are susceptible."
Lindquist said the Department of Health and Gov. Jay Inslee aren't reinstating mask mandates or other measures yet.
"But stay tuned," Lindquist said. "In a county where we're seeing an increase in the delta variant, it makes sense. I think it is going to be the new norm."
The Seattle and King County health department is recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public settings such as grocery, retail, theaters and entertainment establishments, according to its website.
Even though almost all the hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people who contracted COVID-19, Lindquist acknowledged that there are some "breakthrough" cases of vaccinated people getting sick.
"We know the vaccines are not 100% effective," Lindquist said. "So we expect some breakthrough cases. When we look at the breakthrough cases, they're not above the numbers that we would expect."