TUMWATER, WA - Thursday will mark the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declaration. After this date, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's authorizations to collect certain types of public health data will expire, yet Washington State Department of Health officials say the virus will remain a part of our lives for the foreseeable future.
Washington Secretary of Health Amair Shah says we have all had a difficult time since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Continental U.S. on January 21, 2020. That case was in Washington.
At a media availability on Friday, Shah said it has been nearly 1,200 days since the COVID-19 pandemic began and Washingtonians did their part in reducing the spread of the virus.
Shah says the effects of the pandemic are not over.
Shah adds that throughout the pandemic, Washington has consistently had one of the lowest death rates among states.
A recent study in Lancet found that Washington State had the sixth-lowest adjusted rate of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. when adjusting to account for both age and comorbidity, Shah says, adding that we should not forget those who were lost not only in Washington and the U.S. but around the world.
While the emergency response is ending, Chief Science Officer Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett says their concerns about COVID-19 are not.
Kwan-Gett says while hospitalizations continue a downward trend, there are still dozens of COVID-19-related deaths each week in Washington State. The most vulnerable are the elderly and those with health issues.
"The CDC has been working for many months to fold the agency’s COVID-19 emergency response activities into its existing structure and programs, as part of an ongoing transition to sustainable public health practice. The agency has also been working with partners, including states and local territories, to prepare for the end of the PHE declaration and communicate updated reporting requirements and cadences," the CDC says.
Watch the media availability HERE.