OLYMPIA, WA (KPTV) – Health experts in Washington echoed the concerns from the Oregon Health Authority about the new Delta variant of COVID-19, with cases and hospitalizations trending upward.

On Friday the state’s epidemiologist warned of what he called a “fifth wave” of the virus, with the new Delta variant expected to spread quickly among unvaccinated people. According to the Washington Department of Health, the seven-day rolling average of confirmed COVID-19 cases has gone from 349 on July 1 to almost 700 on July 20.

Health experts in Washington warn of COVID-19 Delta variant dangers

Image: KPTV

The state did reach its goal of vaccinating 70% of people over the age of 16 earlier this month. That is 4.2 million people, but the state confirmed on Friday that the more contagious variant is now the predominant strain in Washington and with case counts expected to continue to rise, there are conversations happening about masking guidelines.

While there is no statewide mask mandate, King County’s health officer recommended all people go back to wearing masks in indoor public settings. The state continues to urge anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated yet to seek out the vaccine.

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