PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Doctors at the University of Washington say the COVID-19 omicron subvariant BA.5’s strength in evading previous immune protection is driving a summer surge in new virus cases – and some counties in Washington are seeing that surge more than others. 

According to the latest data made available to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which were calculated on Thursday, July 21, there are 12 counties in Washington with COVID-19 community levels rated “high.” 

This means they have had 200 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, or they’ve had more than 20 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people within a seven-day period. 

The CDC recommends people in counties with high COVID-19 community levels wear masks indoors in public and on public transportation. 

The following counties all have COVID-19 community levels rated high: 

  • Grays Harbor County: 221.15 cases per 100,000 people 
  • Mason County: 202.19 cases per 100,000 people 
  • Thurston County: 237.49 cases per 100,000 people 
  • King County: 273.84 cases per 100,000 people
  • Snohomish County: 242.92 cases per 100,000 people
  • Skagit County: 232.19 cases per 100,000 people 
  • Klickitat County: 303.23 cases per 100,000 people
  • Benton County: 256.37 cases per 100,000 people 
  • Franklin County: 236.29 cases per 100,000 people
  • Adams County: 315.27 cases per 100,000 people 
  • Lincoln County: 246.82 cases per 100,000 people 
  • Spokane County: 228.77 cases per 100,000 people

The most recent University of Washington Virology data available from July 3 show the BA.5 variant accounted for 66.9% of the lab’s sequenced positive COVID-19 tests. 

Dr. John Lynch, an infections diseases physician at UW, said he encourages all people eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine to get one as a way to protect themselves against the latest subvariant. 

“I am very pro-booster. I think that if you’re eligible for boosters in any way, shape, or form – you should definitely get them. For those who are eligible for that second booster, absolutely get it on board,” Lynch said in a news release. “I do not think that waiting for an omicron-specific booster or vaccine in the fall is necessary. We really know we’re in a surge right now with a highly transmissible variant.”

In Counties with high community levels, the CDC says anyone at risk for severe illness in these communities should consider taking additional precautions besides simply wearing a mask. The CDC recommends staying 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces and says people should wash their hands often.