The word from Washington state health officials: No Super Bowl parties this weekend, please.
On Thursday, officials from the state Department of Health noted the strain of staying ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic spread in terms of both vaccine distribution and keeping caseloads down statewide.
"We've given over 66 percent of the vaccine doses delivered to our state, now in the arms of Washingtonians, and that percentage continues to rise," said Dr. Umair Shah, the state's Secretary of Health, at Thursday's briefing.
He noted, "Providers in our state have given over 773,000 doses total. And we are now averaging almost 28,000 vaccine doses given each day. And that's more than three times our daily average at the start of 2021."
Getting to the Gov. Jay Inslee's goal of 45,000 vaccines daily is still a tall order, but Inslee said Thursday the state now has the capacity to do so. The state is now receiving 100,000 to 116,000 doses a week.
Providers administering vaccine must use at least 95 percent of their allocations within a week.
Michele Roberts, who's leading COVID-19 vaccine planning and distribution at the state Department of Health, said on Thursday, "This week, we had to reduce orders for 39 providers because they still had more than 5 percent of vaccine leftover from the previous week."
Washington has passed 300,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,300 deaths
"As we get further past the holidays, we're seeing some progress in the right direction," Shah said.
"However, we have to remember we are far from out of the woods. COVID-19 activity is still high in our state. We've now confirmed, unfortunately, several cases of the variants that spread more easily and quickly in our state. And it should give all of us pause."
Pierce County announced the detection of the U.K. variant in one case on Jan. 24.
"I know we're tired of this virus, but again, it's not tired of us," Shah said Thursday.
So, no Super Bowl potlucks.
"You can link in your typical game day buddies by video or text chat," suggested Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID-19 response for the state Department of Health.
If people do gather, "please think about gathering outside as opposed to inside, wear masks and always maintain six feet of distance," she said. "If you do end up indoors, keep your windows and doors open for good ventilation. Keep your gathering small and spread it out."
She added, "It's safe to skip your communal bowls of popcorn and other snacks and have each family or household bring their own. Do a health check beforehand and make sure nobody comes with symptoms or if they've been exposed to COVID-19 in the past two weeks."
Inslee even weighed in on the issue in his own briefing later Thursday.
"We know this is a tradition to have a whole bunch of people yelling in the same room, but that's really too dangerous this year and we are encouraging people to protect themselves Super Bowl Sunday," he said.
"This is just really simple: We don't want to let the virus win the Super Bowl. We want to win the Super Bowl, and that means keeping people healthy. And I hope people can focus on that this year."