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In recent days, we have been seeing a decrease in the COVID-19 infection rates in Puget Sound areas and counties. This downward trend is promising and may be a result of increased adherence to mask use and increased social distancing. It has been over a month since Gov. Jay Inslee set the statewide requirement to wear face coverings in all public indoor spaces and outdoors when it’s not possible to stay 6 feet apart from others. Face coverings are proving to be a good solution for balancing out the harder task of physical distancing, and we’re making great strides. It’s because of data and progress like this that we continue to update our UW Medicine policies to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness of COVID-19 infection prevention and control.

Our antibody testing program for employees is providing an invaluable perspective on COVID-19 infection in our community. If you haven’t participated yet, please note that the program ends on August 31. See below for details on how to sign up.

Updates for today:

  • UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary.
  • Local, National and Global Epidemiology.
  • Employee Antibody Testing Ends August 31.
  • New Policies Roundup.

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

COVID-19 Positive Inpatients Data Aug 5

Local, National and Global Epidemiology

Employee Antibody Testing Ends August 31

There is still time to participate in the COVID-19 antibody testing program. Please start by taking the UW Medicine Employee COVID-19 Testing Survey no later than Friday, August 21. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will be directed to a calendar system to schedule a blood draw. New appointment times are opening up daily.

After reviewing results from our Phase I antibody testing of front-line UW Medicine healthcare workers, we are seeing a 3% prevalence of previous COVID-19 infection. This is below the rate found in the general population of patients who have been tested (~4.8%). Early results like these validate our current practices and guidelines, including those on personal protective equipment (PPE), visitors, air handling, precautions and screening.

It is still unknown whether having COVID-19 antibodies — or receiving a positive test result — means you are protected from getting infected again.

The UW Medicine antibody test is offered to employees at no cost, and the test results will be part of your employee health record. For more information, please see the antibody testing FAQ.

New Policies Roundup

We continue to update our policies based on new information about the best ways to protect healthcare workers and patients. Recent updates include:

  • PPE Policy: Outlines standards for Supply Chain colleagues to determine PPE capacity levels for sourcing and allocation of adequate supplies, general mitigation strategies for each specific type of PPE, and new capacity strategies for facemasks, disposable bouffants and shoe covers.
  • Eye Protection Policy and FAQs: Includes requirements on eye protection for those with direct patient interaction. Eye protection is defined as goggles or a face shield. You may bring your own goggles from home, such as those with prescription lenses, as long as they provide the same level of coverage as UW Medicine-provided goggles. Personal eyeglasses, on their own, do not meet policy guidelines.
  • Exposure PolicyProtocol, and FAQs: Based on an Exposure Matrix that identifies three levels of risk categories, for higher-risk exposures, employees will need to quarantine for 14 days from the day of the most recent exposure, even if they test negative for COVID-19.
  • Masking Policy and FAQs: The required and extended-use masking policy is applicable to staff, faculty, patients, visitors and vendors. Mask types permitted are defined depending on the person’s role while in a UW Medicine facility.

Next week, I will be taking the week off to spend some vacation time with my family. I’ll provide my next update when I return. In the meantime, thank you for continuing your amazing work to support our patients, community and each other during this stressful time and remember the “3 Ws”: Wear a mask, Wash your hands and Watch your distance!


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