skip to main content
caption: People dine in outdoor dining areas set up along Ballard Avenue Northwest on Monday, March 22, 2021, in Seattle. Beginning Monday, restaurants, retailers, and fitness centers can open with up to 50% capacity as Washington's 39 counties move into the third phase of Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan.
Enlarge Icon
People dine in outdoor dining areas set up along Ballard Avenue Northwest on Monday, March 22, 2021, in Seattle. Beginning Monday, restaurants, retailers, and fitness centers can open with up to 50% capacity as Washington's 39 counties move into the third phase of Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Covid cases up 31% in Seattle area as reopening continues

Covid cases continue to climb in King County as reopening is underway.

Cases are up 31% from where they were two weeks ago, according to new data released over the weekend. That's up from the increase KUOW noted on Friday, which was 18% at the time.

The week of March 1 - 7, there were, on average, 134 new Covid cases in King County every day. This past week, there were 175 new cases every day, a number that's likely to increase when testing sites finish reporting their results from the past few days.

Public health officials suspect the increase is due to people socializing more as the end of the winter surge and the availability of vaccines lead to optimism. Also, the presence of more contagious variants make all interactions riskier.

In recent weeks, more outbreaks have been tied to restaurants, bars, and travel, King County's public health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin said in a Friday press conference.

At the same time, starting Monday, gyms, restaurants, and many other businesses in Washington state can open up to 50% capacity, and many large gatherings, such as sporting events and graduations, will be allowed.

Duchin said that he hopes people continue to take precautions and avoid indoor spaces where people are unmasked or ventilation is bad.

"The risk is not gone — the virus is still with us," he said.

"The vast majority of the population remains susceptible to Covid-19. The viruses that are currently circulating are more effective at spreading from person to person," he explained. "So I think those factors are going to drive transmission up."

Duchin said thousands of people in King County have infectious Covid right now.

"It would be a shame if many people became infected over the next month or two just as vaccines are about to become available widely to most of the population," he said.

Duchin said, thanks to vaccination, cases are down among people over 65, but they’re up among people in their 20s and 30s. He added that Covid is "not a trivial disease, even for younger adults," many of whom still have symptoms months after their diagnosis.