Covid updates for January 19, 2022: Price gouging on test kits
For the most updated news about the coronavirus pandemic in Seattle and Washington state, click here.
According to data from King County and Washington state departments of health, as of Wednesday, January 19, 2022:
- +4,443 new cases since Tuesday in King County. That's -27% over the last seven days.
- +9 new hospitalizations since Wednesday in King County. That's a 7% increase over the past seven days.
- +127% increase in deaths, with five people dying every day in King County.
- 78.2% of King County residents are fully vaccinated.
- 10,230 Covid-19 related deaths across Washington state; 1% death rate since the beginning of the pandemic.
Washington to launch its own free Covid test website
Washington state is preparing to launch its own website for people to order free at-home Covid-19 tests.
Washington state’s website could be launched by next week. The website is a separate effort than the free test kits being offered by the federal government.
"These efforts are about making it easier for people to find tests,” said Lacy Fehrenbach who is in charge of Covid response for the state’s Department of Health. “Home tests are a key component of your medical kit at home and something we want you to have on hand before you need them. We also want to lift the burden off our emergency departments so that care can go to people who really need it."
Fehrenbach says each household will be able to order four tests, to be shipped within two weeks of ordering. Public health officials urge people with a positive test to isolate immediately, and report their home results to the department of health.
You can also notify close contacts on the WA Notify app.
— Paige Browning
CORRECTION: Kids are NOT more vaccinated than adults, as this entry previously stated. The previous version of this was incorrect. Thanks to the eagle eyed among you who wrote in.
Vaccination rates by age group in King County. To click around the data, go here.
—Isolde Raftery, KUOW
Report price gouging on home Covid tests, Washington Attorney General says
As Americans hustle to get their free, at-home Covid tests from the federal government, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office is urging Washingtonians to report any price gouging on the testing kits.
In a statement published Tuesday, the office said it had received complaints recently about Facebook advertisements in which sellers marketed at-home Covid tests for nearly triple the standard retail price.
In 2021, the Attorney General's Office responded to roughly 1,300 total price gouging complaints. Also last year, a bill that would have made it illegal to gouge prices on emergency services and goods during a state of emergency in Washington died in the Legislature.
Price gouging can be reported to the Attorney General's Office via this online form, which also allows consumers to include photos and screenshots with their complaints.
— Liz Brazile, KUOW
Has omicron peaked in Washington? Possibly.
The most recent estimate statewide is that 88,000 people are currently positive statewide. That’s one of the highest rates of the pandemic, but the surge may have slowed down since then. Cases were down 20% in King County in the last week. Rates are still staggeringly high, but we may be on our way out of omicron’s worst grip.
The rolling seven-day average of hospitalizations is also starting to come down in the last week, but it's still higher than it was in the previous peak in the fall statewide. It is going to be tough for hospitals for a few more weeks. There's just no other way to say it.
This has been a hard month for people losing loved ones to Covid. The rate of deaths has increased in the last week by 126% in King County. That means four people are dying each day from the disease.
If we're not tapering off yet, we could be very soon. We're getting that prediction from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, based at the University of Washington.
Epidemiologist Ali H. Mokdad says the peak of omicron transmission will occur in nearly every country within the next two to three weeks. South Africa, the UK, even New York City have already tapered off in omicron cases. Our stats are starting to look like we may have passed our peak of omicron in King County.
—Paige Browning, Kim Malcolm, KUOW
Order your free Covid tests via the Postal Service.
Every household in the U.S. can order up to four tests, the rapid kind. They'll be sent through the U.S. Postal Service starting in late January. People will hopefully get their tests within seven to 12 days of submitting an order. We'll see if that timeline stays on track.
Filling out the form takes 30 seconds. Note: If you live in an apartment, make sure you fill out the correct field, or it might tell you that someone from your household has already ordered them.
You order the free Covid tests from USPS.
—Paige Browning, KUOW
Covid will likely become endemic
There has been much speculation about if and how the pandemic will wind down. But White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci says that Covid is likely to remain in our lives for years, potentially as a less severe strain.
Fauci's comment came with the context that experts don't know the exact future of the pandemic, but they can make guesses based on history, NPR reports.
"...if you look at the history of infectious diseases, we've only eradicated one infectious disease in man, and that's smallpox. That's not going to happen with this virus," Fauci said at the recent at the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda.
"But hopefully it will be at such a low level that it doesn't disrupt our normal social, economic and other interactions."
Fauci further commented that it's unclear if the current Omicron-driven surge in cases (less deadly but far more contagious) will push the world in this direction. It is still possible that another dangerous variant could emerge.
— Dyer Oxley, KUOW