Umair Shah, the new Washington State secretary of health, said hope is on the horizon as long as people stick to the COVID-19 rules.
Umair Shah, the new Washington State secretary of health, said hope is on the horizon as long as people stick to the COVID-19 rules. Shitty WebEx screenshot of Washington State Department of Health press conference.

The best holiday gift you can give the new Washington State Secretary of Health, Umair Shah, is the promise that you'll stay the fuck home for the holidays and that you'll keep wearing a mask and keep social distancing.

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On the whole, things are looking hopeful for the COVID-19 response in Washington. Shah said Washington was headed into the "second half" of the pandemic and that the vaccines were the "light at the end of this long tunnel." However, the situation is still precarious.

Washington's COVID-19 cases spiked this fall. After new restrictions and public health officials' pleas to stay-the-fuck home for Thanksgiving, cases are plateauing again, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases Scott Lindquist said in a press conference this morning. Public health officials are striking the same chord with Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's coming up.

Besides advising Washingtonians against swapping spit with anyone over some holiday hams, here's what else public health officials touched on Wednesday morning:

  • In just three weeks, more than 1.5 million people enabled WA Notify on their smartphones. According to Lacy Fahrenbach, the deputy secretary of health for COVID-19 response, Washington is in the top five states for people using the exposure notifying technology. "The more people who use it the better it works," Fehrenbach said.

  • Fahrenbach suggested several activities people could do with their families that weren't in-person and in violation of COVID-19 restrictions, like hosting a virtual cookie decorating contest online, having a virtual movie watch party, and dropping treats off on family's doorsteps.

  • COVID-19 cases are starting to plateau again, but the 20-39-year-old age group is driving cases, Lindquist said. No more brunching, you Gen Z and Millennial scum.

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  • Michele Roberts, the acting assistant secretary in the Washington State Department of Health, said that health care workers received 30,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The next allocation will include 44,860 doses, followed by 57,525 doses, and 44,300 of the Moderna vaccine.

  • Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee said the Centers for Disease Control unexpectedly reduced Washington's expected vaccine allocation by 40% with "no explanation." Roberts clarified today that the original allocation numbers were wrong since they were based on "production numbers," not the number of "actual vaccines produced." This means Washington will receive 330,000 doses instead of the 400,000 "we initially thought," Roberts said.

  • It will still be "several weeks before we're going to be ready to move" to the next group in the vaccination prioritization line, Fahrenbach said. In other words, we still don't know when members of the public (aka not health care workers, long-term care residents, or staff in those facilities) will be vaccinated.