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To the UW Medicine Community:

I hope you are enjoying our current stretch of sunny and warm weather. While it’s great to see that our normal summer weather patterns are returning, I wish the same were true in the public health arena. With such glorious long summer Northwest days, it can be even harder to limit social gatherings and maintain physical distancing. Unfortunately, with the rise in COVID-19 cases in our community, we are at risk of reversing much of the great progress we’ve made since the pandemic began. As Gov. Inslee pointed out when he put a pause on entering new reopening phases, we need everyone’s support to avoid a return to more stringent stay-at-home restrictions.

UW Medicine COVID-related updates and activities continue. In the past week, we have announced several new policies that will help us continue to protect the health and safety of our co-workers, patients and visitors. You will find more information in the topics below.

Updates for today:

  • UW Medicine COVID-19 activity summary
  • Local and national epidemiology
  • PPE Conservation and Mitigation
  • Eye Protection
  • Enforcement of Masking Policy
  • Updated Treatment Guidelines

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

COVID-19 inpatients for July 22

Local and National Epidemiology

Washington: The Department of Health reports 48,575 cases and 1,465 deaths as of July 20. Of the 826,354 people who have been tested, 5.8% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 3,819,139 COVID-19 cases and 140,157 deaths as of today.

Global: The WHO reports 14,982,950 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 617,415 deaths.

PPE Conservation and Mitigation

A few updates have been made to the UW Medicine PPE policy for employees of our facilities. Previously, we released three policies on PPE mitigation and conservation reflecting changes over the past few months. This latest version combines all three into one policy to help streamline our approach to using PPE.

Of note, you’ll find a few new “standards and expectations” featured in the updated statement. These include an outline of how our Supply Chain colleagues are determining PPE capacity levels to continue to source and allocate adequate supplies, general mitigation strategies for each specific type of PPE, and new capacity strategies for facemasks, disposable bouffants, and shoe covers.

For more information, please refer to the full updated policy.

Eye Protection

Starting on Wednesday, July 29, if you work directly with patients, you will be required to wear eye protection at all times, in addition to a mask. This does not apply to research or administrative areas in UW Medicine that do not provide direct patient care. For the purpose of this policy, eye protection is defined as goggles (flexible or rigid) or a face shield. This new requirement provides one more layer of protection as we do our part to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 in our community.

Once the policy is in place, all healthcare employees will receive goggles or a face shield at the start of a shift and will wear eye protection at all times during patient interactions. The process for issuing, managing, reusing and storing eye protection will be determined by each individual unit’s leadership. Upon removal of eye protection, goggles/face shields must be disinfected, as well as prior to storage or reuse. You can find more details on how to store and reuse goggles and shields in the eye protection reuse procedure.

Our Supply Chain colleagues are working diligently to secure all necessary inventory for distribution at all facilities by Friday, July 24. We expect all facilities to achieve full compliance by next Wednesday, July 29. In the meantime, unit leadership will receive information on how to order additional supplies and develop specific procedures around managing and storing those supplies.

The full policy and FAQs will be posted and available for reference by the week of July 27.

Enforcement of Masking Policy

There have been a few incidents recently where visitors in our facilities have refused to wear masks. Not surprisingly, these incidents have been challenging and upsetting to our colleagues, and to our patients and other visitors. Our Visitor Policy requires all visitors to wear masks, which are available at each UW Medicine facility entrance.

If you encounter a visitor refusing to wear a mask, please inform them of our policy or call Security to escort them out if they will not cooperate. The safety of others is a responsibility we all share as UW Medicine employees. Mask wearing enforcement is yet another way we can work together to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 exposure and infection.

For more information, please refer to our UW Medicine Required and Extended-Use Masking Policy Statement for Staff, Faculty, Patients, Visitors and Vendors and Guidance Regarding UW Medicine Policy Requiring Masking in Non-Clinical Areas.

Updated Treatment Guidelines

As data to address COVID-19 treatment options emerge at the national level, we are also updating our UW Medicine Treatment Guidelines for practices specific to our hospitals and clinics. The latest changes include recommendations around the use of dexamethasone, addition of more clinical data on convalescent plasma for treatment, and additional information on the process of administering IV Remdesivir. We will continue to update our guidelines as new learnings get us closer toward developing established therapies.

For more information, please refer to the latest Treatment Guidelines. Another great resource to learn more about COVID treatments is the UW/IDEA Program website for COVID-19 Treatment, a project with many UW Medicine contributors and edited by Drs. David Spach and Gretchen Snoeyenbos Newman (both in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) to provide up-to-date information.


Amidst the increased activity in COVID-19 cases we’re seeing at UW Medicine and elsewhere, I want to thank all of you for the unwavering commitment toward helping people stay safe and healthy. As we learn more about this pandemic, we’re also learning better ways to approach patient care every day. That’s why you’ll see us continue to implement new guidelines and update policies on a regular basis. While making these changes is the right thing to do, I recognize that the pace of change is hard, especially in the midst of the ongoing stress of “COVID time.”

Working together, we can continue to serve our community in the safest way possible. I look forward to the promise of even sunnier days ahead.


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