For the past several weeks, we’ve been paying close attention to the slow but steady rise of COVID-19 cases in our region. It’s a pattern that has mirrored state-level trends and increasingly become cause for national concern.
The growing prominence of viral variants, coupled with the recent easing of many statewide restrictions on gatherings, has contributed to this rise of cases, particularly among unvaccinated younger adults. Most troublesome have been the two California variants of concern, which as of April 1, have accounted for 78% of all such variants detected in Washington. These variants are more transmissible and potentially more resistant to pre-existing natural immunity, so it’s important we all remain vigilant with masking and physical distancing.
In a recent Seattle Times op-ed, UW Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Ramsey described our current situation as a race to vaccinate the population to control the spread of variants and stressed that “we need to continue practicing the tried-and true-safety measures that we know help prevent the spread of this disease: wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand washing.”
The good news continues to be the efficacy of the vaccines. All three vaccines currently being administered are proving very effective in stopping the spread of the disease as well as in preventing severe cases. Unlike last year, we are not seeing older adults requiring hospitalization, thanks to their early access to vaccination. There are rare (and expected) instances of people contracting COVID-19 after vaccination, but these cases are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.
At UW Medicine, our teams are doing a phenomenal job in the vaccination campaign, and I’m very proud to say that we will be administering our 200,000th dose today! Beginning April 15, all state residents 16 or older will be eligible for a first-dose appointment, and we will be that much closer to ending this pandemic.
Today’s update includes:
• Local/National/Global Epidemiology
• Vaccination Summary
• Vaccine Equity Partnerships with Allen Foundation and Seattle Mariners
• Vaccination Site Volunteers Needed
• COVID-19 Employee Testing Survey Downtime
UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary
King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 90,581 total cases and 1,483 deaths as of April 9. The number of new positive tests is currently at 183.6/14 days/100,000 people. The effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 2.0 (estimate range: 1.3 – 2.7).
Washington: The Department of Health reports 348,431 confirmed cases and 5,316 deaths as of April 7. Of the 6,075,300 people who have been tested, 5.7% have been positive.
United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 74,860 new cases, 30,737,477 total COVID-19 cases and 556,106 deaths as of April 8.
Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 133,552,774 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,894,295 deaths as of April 9.
UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of April 8
Vaccine Equity Partnerships with Allen Foundation and Seattle Mariners
UW Medicine’s goal of delivering COVID-19 vaccines directly to underserved communities in King County has received generous support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Seattle Mariners. On Tuesday, we announced a $1 million grant from the Allen Foundation that will directly target vaccinations for residents who are Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and those experiencing homelessness. At full operation, this partnership will enable UW Medicine to deliver up to 14,500 vaccines per month to the region’s most vulnerable communities and geographic locations.
Our partnership with the Seattle Mariners, Strike Out COVID-19, launched a few weeks back. This initiative includes a mobile vaccination program, awareness initiatives featuring Mariners players and a $2 million contribution from the team to support the outreach and ongoing vaccination efforts. Also, kudos to our colleague, Dr. Santiago Neme of UWMC-Northwest for an outstanding vaccine Q&A in both English and Spanish during series opening Mariners games. Great job, Santiago!
Vaccination Site Volunteers Needed
UW Medicine has launched a new system for managing schedules and volunteers at our vaccination clinics. Initially, volunteers are needed for clinical roles, including healthcare professionals and students who can administer vaccines. The system will allow for the addition of non-clinical roles in the future. Register to be a vaccination volunteer and to select your shift(s).
If you have questions about navigating the website or selecting a shift, consider joining one of the following open forum informational sessions. Click the date link for Zoom login information.
COVID-19 Employee Testing Survey Downtime
The UW Medicine Employee COVID-19 Testing Survey will be unavailable from 7 p.m. Friday, April 9, until 1 a.m. Saturday, April 10, for a critical upgrade. During this brief period, you will not be able to take the survey, which is required prior to scheduling an appointment for COVID-19 PCR testing. You can also find this link, along with all of the COVID-19 policies and protocols, at one.uwmedicine.org/coronavirus.
This week is National Public Health Week and a great time to again acknowledge and express our gratitude to the public health professionals who have worked so hard to keep our communities safe during the pandemic. Your incredible work has been an inspiration to me, and I’m proud to call you colleagues and friends. #ThankYouPublicHealth!
John Lynch, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine