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Eastern Washington not flattening the curve yet, but health officer hopes 'worst is behind us'

Eastern Washington is not yet flattening the curve of the coronavirus outbreak, but health leaders say cases may start to level off soon.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Western Washington has made significant strides to flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak. While eastern Washington is lagging behind, health officials say data suggests that there are marked improvements.

“I don’t think we are seeing a flattening of the curve yet [in eastern Washington]. But my hope is that the worst is behind us,” said Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz.

A concern at the national level is a significant rise in cases and upticks across the country.

A report from the Health and Human Services inspector general's office finds hospitals across the nation expect to be overwhelmed as U.S. coronavirus cases rocket toward their anticipated peak by mid-April.

According to Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz, those concerns over an uptick in cases are decreasing in Washington state as a whole and possibly at the local level soon. 

“Nationally, the data suggests that these next couple of weeks could be very challenging at the state level. I think we will start to see [cases] level off locally,” he added.

Lutz reiterated that there has been a flattening of the curve statewide in Washington, as there were many cases in the Puget Sound region initially and health leaders are not seeing as many cases now.

But this is not yet the case in eastern Washington, as health officers are continuing to see increasing numbers of cases. There are more than 300 cases of coronavirus in Yakima County and 222 in Spokane County, according to Lutz.

The increase in cases locally is in part due to increased access to testing. 

RELATED: Flattening the curve: How staying home will save people from dying of coronavirus

But Lutz did offer some hopeful news on Monday, adding that he is not seeing 20 or more cases per day in Spokane County. He also reported that health leaders have not seen a significant uptick in hospitalizations in the past several days, a metric they use when looking at the flattening of the curve.

There are 222 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Spokane County among 12 deaths, Lutz said. Thirty-five people have been hospitalized throughout the outbreak and 14 people remain in the hospital as of Monday.

The number of people who die per day in Washington state due to coronavirus may have already peaked, according to the latest data.

Researchers with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington previously forecast that deaths per day would peak by mid-to-late April, with 27 people dying each day. 

The peak number of deaths may have already occurred on March 27, when 24 people died.

Though Washington state could see another spike in deaths in the coming days, the data model shows a downward trend into the beginning of May. Fewer than 20 deaths per day are expected between April 6 and May 6.

RELATED: Coronavirus forecast: Deaths per day in Washington state may have already peaked

Washington state went from the first in the United States to identify cases and that with the most cases, to the state with the tenth most cases.

States such as Pennsylvania, Illinois and Louisiana have now jumped above Washington.

Tap for a map of all reported cases worldwide

For context, Washington is reporting just under 8,000 cases, while Pennsylvania has more than 11,500 cases, Florida has more than 12,300 and Louisiana has just over 13,000 cases.

RELATED: Washington state schools may stay closed through spring due to coronavirus

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