All around us, life is beginning to feel a little more normal. The state fully reopened for businesses on Wednesday (with a few exceptions, including healthcare, daycares and similar facilities). Local hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are down, continuing a months-long trend. And in King County, vaccination rates continue to climb with nearly 80% of residents ages 16 or older having received at least one dose. It is important to remember that what we are seeing in King County is not the same everywhere in Washington State as some communities still have lower vaccination coverage and higher case rates.
Most of this is great news and a slow-moving reminder of life before the pandemic.
Naturally, part of that return to normal means winding down aspects of our COVID-19 response, including some functions of the UW Medicine Emergency Operations Center (EOC). I cannot say enough about the importance of the EOC in coordinating our response to the pandemic – from planning our approach to sharing information to managing resources across our system. I am so appreciative of everybody who played a role on our EOC team and especially to Danica Little (Emergency Management Director), Marjorie Parkison (EOC Operations Chief), and Robin DeForest (EOC Planning Chief) for their leadership throughout.
We saw the value of the EOC again this week in managing our system-wide response to the staffing, capacity and resource challenges posed by the record-breaking, triple-digit heat. The EOC is an invaluable resource in times of crisis and one we will continue to rely on, if only in a lesser way as we emerge from the pandemic.
About that heat, it was a good reminder of how a single event, or a stretch of extreme weather can suddenly stress our system on a second front – the first, of course, being the ongoing pandemic. Despite the challenges, you all pulled together. A special shout-out goes to our colleagues in Facilities and Engineering who kept the hospitals and clinics running. Seeing the teamwork and commitment to patient care you all displayed this week in the face of historic adversity made me once again proud to be a part of UW Medicine and to call you all colleagues.
A few last thoughts on where we stand:
- It will be several weeks before we get a better idea of the impact of the state’s reopening. We don’t yet know how that will affect COVID-19 activity, especially in parts of the state lagging in vaccination rates. Please continue to be vigilant and refer to the CDC’s guidelines when in doubt.
- Coronavirus variants of concern remain active locally. The Delta variant, which is highly transmissible, is making up a larger percentage of new cases around the country. We should expect to see this trend continue locally and cases to spread in unvaccinated populations.
- Consider this my weekly reminder to get vaccinated and to encourage your friends, family and loved ones to do so as well. It could save your life or the life of somebody you know – and it has never been easier to find an appointment or a walk-in location.
Today’s update includes:
- Local/National/Global Epidemiology
- Vaccination Summary
UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary
King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 107,850 total confirmed cases and 1,663 deaths as of Thursday, July 1. The number of new positive tests is currently at 43/14 days/100,000 people. The effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 0.7 (estimate range: 0.3-1.2).
Washington: The Department of Health reports 415,179 confirmed cases and 5,938 deaths as of Wednesday, June 30. Of the 7,595,199 people who have been tested, 5.5% have been positive.
United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 14,256 new cases on Thursday, July 1, 33,496,454 total COVID-19 cases and 602,401 deaths.
Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard as of Friday, July 2 reports 181,930,736 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,945,832 deaths.
UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of July 2
As we break for the long Fourth of July weekend, I encourage you to take a moment to appreciate all that we’ve accomplished in the first half of the year. Collectively, UW Medicine has administered nearly 350,000 doses of the vaccine and helped drive down case counts, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 throughout King County. That’s a legacy of which we all can be proud. I hope you enjoy the holiday. Please remember to stay cool from the heat and safe around the water.
John Lynch, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine