Skip to main content

Yesterday, Dr. Jeff Duchin, the King County Health Officer, released a Directive strongly urging all residents to continue to wear masks in public indoor settings. The Directive will remain in place until 70% or more of King County residents 16 years of age and older are fully vaccinated. This follows the release of updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals from the CDC and the Washington State Department of Health last week. Importantly, both sets of guidance defer to local public health recommendations and do not include healthcare settings. Case counts in King County remain high, and vaccination rates are not yet at goal, though both measures are improving. This Directive is an important step to keep everyone in our community safe.

At UW Medicine facilities, to protect our patients, visitors and staff, we will maintain the safety protocols that have been in place at our hospitals and clinics throughout the pandemic. Masks are still required of all who enter our hospitals and clinics, and patients still must complete COVID-19 screening and maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others while indoors. These rules will continue to apply to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status.

This is consistent with the recommendations of CDC, DOH, and Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) for healthcare environments. It also remains, along with vaccination, the best way we know to prevent transmission of the virus, which is still active in our region.

We support the direction the CDC is moving in and the science that supports the benefits of vaccination. Widespread vaccination is essential if we are to resume our previously “normal” activities. As employees of UW Medicine, you can be models for the community: get vaccinated, encourage your friends and family to do the same, and wear your “I support COVID-19 vaccination” pins.

Today’s update includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Vaccination Summary
  • Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Update

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 103,428 total confirmed cases and 1,566 deaths as of Thursday, May 20. The number of new positive tests is currently at 191/14 days/100,000 people. The effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 1.3 (estimate range: 1.1 – 1.6).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 392,754 confirmed cases and 5,690 deaths as of May 19. Of the 6,882,431 people who have been tested, 5.7% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 27,857 new cases, 32,855,010 total COVID-19 cases and 584,975 deaths as of May 20.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 165,158,285 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,425,017 deaths as of May 21.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of May 20

Marketo_Vaccination Table 5.21.21

*Total Doses Given: 305,468. Site numbers represent total doses administered to employees, patients and community members.

Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Update

Monoclonal antibody treatment is an infusion that may help those with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms recover more quickly and develop less severe symptoms. Valley Medical Center has been offering this treatment for a few months in their Emergency Department. This week we started offering this therapy at UWMC-Montlake, and we look forward to expanding to Harborview in early June.

The COVID-19 Result RNs are screening positive patients tested at a UW Medicine site for eligibility and interest. Providers interested in this therapy for their patients should complete the .COVID19THERAPYELIGIBILITY SmartPhrase and route the telephone or visit encounter to P UWM COVID-19 Results Pool to be considered. More information can be found here.

On a final note, I wanted to acknowledge that our vaccine teams still are going strong, working to ensure and to expand equitable access to vaccination for those eligible. A particular focus is on South King County, where vaccination rates remain below the county average. Additionally, we are supporting pop-up vaccination sites at Garfield and West Seattle high schools to reach more teenagers and adolescents. These are positive developments that will help reach more of the community with vaccine resources.

As I walk by the Harborview site every morning and afternoon, seeing all the teenagers lined up makes me so hopeful for the future. We have made great progress with vaccinations and are seeing the results of that work — the number of new cases is decreasing. The actions we all take now, including universal masking in public indoor spaces and vaccinations, will get us to our goal of a much more normal life that is safe for everyone in our community.

I’ll be away for two weeks but look forward to connecting back with everyone in June. Thanks, as always, for your continued teamwork and dedication to ending this pandemic.


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