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Across UW Medicine, individuals and teams continue to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of us is feeling and experiencing the impact on our community while also watching how this is affecting communities like ours across the country and the globe.

While there is no easy way forward, the focus and shared commitment of our fellow citizens appears to be making a difference. The work that each of you have done over the last month (or more) has allowed our clinics and hospitals to continue to take care of every person who urgently needs our help. It is our intention to continue to do this every hour of every day until we are past this outbreak and back to normal operations. I am beyond grateful to every member of the UW Medicine team.

Updates for today:

  • UW Medicine COVID-19 activity summary.
  • Update on COVID-19 local and national epidemiology.
  • Information on the extended-use masking policy and information regarding the updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on universal mask use in public settings.

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity


COVID-19 chart

UW Medicine Hospitals: As of this morning, our hospitals have 121 patients with COVID-19. About 30% require intensive care, including intubation. Six people were discharged in the last 24 hours.

Washington State: 6,966 cases and 284 deaths, with most deaths occurring in those ages 60-80+ years. Over 75,000 tests have been done and 8% are positive.

United States: The CDC reported 277,205 cases and 6,593 deaths as of today. All 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Marianas and U.S. Virgin Islands have reported cases.

Global: The World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Situation Report for April 4 reported 1,051,635 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 56,985 deaths globally. The WHO also released a new report “Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations” that can be found here. This report reviews the available evidence for precautions used when caring for a patient with COIVD-19. The findings of this report support the current UW Medicine guidelines on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for these patients.

Hot Topics: Extended-use masking and the CDC recommendation on the use of cloth face coverings.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hand hygiene before and after using ANY mask is critical.
  • Physical distancing (six feet or two meters) is the goal EVERYWHERE and with EVERYONE, even at work.
  • Follow the indicated precautions for each patient and use the PPE provided by the hospital in clinical areas and when caring for patients.
  • Staff and faculty are allowed to continuously wear a single mask over the course of their shift or work period.
  • Once a mask is placed on your face, DON’T touch it again. If you do touch your mask, please perform hand hygiene again immediately.
  • Cloth face coverings (cloth “masks”) are allowed to be worn in non-patient care areas.

Extended-Use Masking Policy for Healthcare Personnel

UW Medicine is in the process of completing the roll-out of optional extended-use masking for healthcare personnel. This policy addresses concerns from many staff and clinicians about the need for additional personal protective equipment (PPE). Those who decide to wear a mask continuously while at work will be given 1 mask per day and will use a face shield to cover the mask when going into a droplet-contact room. Each healthcare worker will use one face shield per shift, which can be cleaned after each patient encounter. Depending on the type of face shield, the shield may be reused over multiple days or may be discarded at the end of a shift. Please check with your manager or supervisor to determine which process is appropriate for face shield use on your unit. For more information, please refer to the UW Medicine policy and FAQs.

CDC Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings (link here)

Yesterday afternoon, the CDC announced a recommendation for individuals who are living in areas with significant community-based transmission to consider wearing a mask when within six feet of another person. They are making this recommendation based on studies demonstrating transmission from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals in congregant facilities, families and in mathematical models. Wearing a cloth face covering may also help us not to touch our nose or mouth. If you want to wear a cloth face cover but do not have one, here is the U.S. surgeon general demonstrating how to make one.

It is important to recognize that wearing a cloth face covering does not replace physical distancing or hand hygiene. It also does not mean that a person can go to work with any respiratory infection symptoms.

UW Medicine is developing guidelines to support individuals who decide to wear a cloth face covering/mask. Until that time, employees may wear a cloth mask outside of patient care areas. If you will be in a patient care area at any time during your shift, please replace your cloth mask with a hospital-supplied mask for the duration of your shift. These masks can be replaced if wet, soiled or torn.

We fully expect that we will be facing new challenges in the days ahead. As we have over the last month (and years), we will continue to learn and adapt our policies and practices to provide the best care for our patients and the safest environment for each of you. Remember to take care of yourselves, spend some time breathing fresh air, maybe going for a walk or a ride. We will continue to get through this together.


John Lynch, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine