While Washington public health officials are celebrating the state’s reopening Wednesday, they’re keeping a close eye on emerging coronavirus variants.
It’s been a long journey from when the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States was detected in Washington in January 2020, to the arrival of vaccines in December, to Wednesday, when most of the last remaining restrictions were lifted.
Though the pandemic isn’t over, state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah highlighted some achievements in the state’s handling of the crisis: Washington had the fifth lowest case count, seventh lowest death rate and the ninth highest percentage of the population fully vaccinated in the country.
“We’re grateful for everyone who stayed home, kept their distance, wore masks, got vaccinated,” Shah said Wednesday. “We know that hard work and that sacrifice saved lives and paved the way to reopening.”
State epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said the state is watching coronavirus variants very closely.