The CEO podcast is a monthly podcast with Washington Hospitality Association President & CEO Anthony Anton. This is a summary of the February episode when Anthony sat down with Director of Communications, Lex Nepomuceno to discuss COVID case counts, the omicron variant and more. You can watch the full episode on our YouTube channel. If you have questions, email . 



There was a cliffhanger at the end of the last podcast regarding the omicron variant. We will try to answer all those questions we left hanging but first let’s look at how the Washington Hospitality Association has been helping members.


Advocacy with State and Local Governments

Our virtual Hill Climb went well, and we met with almost 100 legislators. One of the most important issues we talked about with legislators was our $229 million relief package for the hospitality industry. Learn more here.


Additional Restaurant Revitalization Funding is also gaining traction. Click here for more details.


Industry news, information and resources

Our Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO) has undergone its yearly update. Check it out on our members only site. We also have a new supply chain toolkit with regularly updated information.


Solutions and training

The Education Foundation is working hard to develop career ladders to share with agencies, universities and high schools in our state.


Cost-saving programs

The ERC support center has put a lot of money back into the pockets of members. Check it out if you have questions about the Employee Retention Tax Credit.


OK now on to the COVID-19 update

Employee mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the Biden administration’s employee vaccine mandate for larger businesses and the administration gave no indication that they will try again. Gov. Jay Inslee is not pursuing a similar mandate at the state level at this time. So for now, an employee vaccine mandate does not look imminent for Washington businesses.

Omicron continues to show that it is more contagious with less severe symptoms.

  • Hospitalizations are an important metric to keep an eye on and hospitalizations are far less likely with omicron. On average, patients in the hospital with omicron spend an average of 2.5 days instead of the previous average of 8 days for COVID patients.
  • Omicron gets through masks easier, so we recommend that you upgrade to KN95 or N95 masks instead of cloth masks or surgical masks.


At this time, it appears that cases in Washington have peaked and are on their way down. If our state’s omicron surge behaves like others, case counts will likely come down at the same rate that they went up. On the day of the podcast Feb. 2, the seven-day rolling average was 16,880 and as of Feb. 8, it is 16,365.

Hospitalizations lag about ten days behind cases, and right on schedule, the most updated data show that on Feb. 10, hospitalizations are dropping.








We have a long way to go before the hospitalization rate gets to the point that hospitals can operate regularly again. We never got to that point during the December lows but in July, we did.

  • On July 21, 2021, there were 31 total hospitalizations for COVID in the state of Washington. That was a couple weeks after our summer low of 112 confirmed cases on July 4.
  • There is a lag on the east side of the state, so we anticipate the peaks in cases and hospitalizations in Eastern Washington to be about two weeks behind Western Washington. This is because omicron hit the east side of the state later, likely because snowfall was keeping people in their homes.



  • Anthony is being inducted into the Washington State University Hospitality Hall of Fame March 11. This is the last day of the WSU Hospitality Week. This is a great opportunity to connect with students and encourage them to graduate in hospitality. You can learn more and register here for the conference which runs from March 8 – 10, 2022
  • You can now ask Alexa or Siri to play the Washington Hospitality Podcast.