Thursday marks two years since first COVID case was confirmed in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. — Thursday will mark two years since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Washington.

On January 20, 2020, the United States’ first known case was reported in Snohomish County.

In the 24 months since, mitigation efforts are still underway in Washington.

The Washington State Department of Health announced in a briefing Wednesday that it planned to launch a web portal where people can order several rapid antigen test kits for each member of their household. Each kit will include four to five tests. The Department of Health said it hopes to serve 350,000 Washingtonians in the first week of the portal’s rollout.

It comes a day after the White House launched its own portal, giving all Americans access to free at-home tests.

As of Wednesday, more than 5 million masks had been delivered throughout the state, according to health officials. Governor Jay Inslee’s goal was to double that number.

RELATED: Inslee announces plan to expand testing, offer free masks in effort to tackle omicron surge

It is still unclear where exactly the masks are being distributed in the state. The Department of Health said it would follow up with a breakdown in the coming weeks.

As of January 18, 71.6% of Washingtonians 5 and older had been fully vaccinated.

The Department of Health said as of January 16, more than 210,000 kids ages 5 to 11 had received their first dose, and more than 158,000 were fully vaccinated.

As the nation grapples with the sixth wave of the pandemic, case counts across Washington are still high.

According to the Department of Health, Western Washington could be at or close to its peak in COVID cases. However, it is not the same story on the east side of the state where health experts are seeing a rise in cases.

“Our forecast remains that the next several weeks are going to be difficult – not just through January, but for the first few weeks of February,” Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah.

Omicron now accounts for practically all of the state’s new cases.

Death counts have been on the decline for the last few weeks. However, health experts said they are unsure whether it is a temporary plateau or if the state will remain on this downward trend.

“There is a tremendous amount of work being done on the ground,” said Dr. Shah. “I want to recognize all who are doing the right thing. We will have brighter skies ahead, we just need to do the right things for ourselves and for each other.”

Health experts continue to recommend vaccination and diligent mask wearing in public spaces.

READ: Has Washington’s omicron surge peaked?

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