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Expect slow, gradual recovery from 'COVID-19 nightmare,' King County health officer says

Dr. Jeff Duchin answered questions about the coronavirus pandemic ahead of the Christmas holiday.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Public Health – Seattle & King County Health Officer Jeff Duchin provided an update on trends in COVID-19 cases and outbreaks Friday.

Duchin's update follows data that shows Washington state may have avoided a post-Thanksgiving surge in new coronavirus cases and is on track to flatten the curve. Earlier this week, officials said they were "pretty confident" that new cases over the past two weeks will not continue on the same steep trajectory before Thanksgiving.

As of Friday morning, there have been 56,588 cases reported in King County, 3,808 hospitalizations, and 976 deaths since the outbreak began. 

The number of cases being reported is declining. However, they are still at high levels, according to Duchin. There are about 500 new cases reported daily, compared to 200 a day in the spring.

Like the rest of the state, the COVID-19 vaccine will be limited to the people most at risk of becoming infected, such as healthcare and other essential workers, and older adults.

Duchin said that with the availability of vaccines, we are looking at the potential for a "gradual recovery from the COVID-19 nightmare." However, even with the vaccine the region is "not close" to being "out of the woods."

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state's vaccine allocation is being cut by 40% next week, though he later said he hopes that was a "communication glitch" between state governments and Pfizer.

“We haven’t heard anything more from the state about the explanation for the 40% reduction – whether that was a miscommunication or that’s truly going to happen,” Duchin said. “I’m glad that Secretary (of Health and Human Services Alex) Azar feels this was just a miscommunication. That would mean that the expected doses would be arriving.”