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I hope you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. I always approach this holiday with mixed emotions. It is a wonderful chance to spend more time with my family while also recognizing the loss of those who died while serving in the U.S. military. This last weekend was especially poignant as the country approached 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19. The Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial start to summer, and we are moving into the next season of the new normal.

Last week, during an interview with KIRO TV, I was asked about lessons learned in the four months since the first person was diagnosed with COVID-19 locally. I mentioned that the way we practice medicine has been fundamentally changed and that I remain concerned about future outbreaks. The interview also gave me an opportunity to highlight the remarkable work at UW Medicine in response to the pandemic. The credit for these achievements goes to every member of the UW Medicine community: Preparing for the next wave of COVID: Harborview’s lessons learned.

Thanks to the amazing work of the UW Medicine Emergency Operations Planning and Operations Teams, today we are beginning our antibody testing program for employees, which will provide another perspective on the extent of coronavirus infections in our community.

UW Medicine Hospitals COVID-19 Activity

UW Medicine COVID-19 Inpatient Census Trend May 26, 2020


State, National and Global Updates

Washington: The Department of Health reports 20,181 cases and 1,078 deaths as of May 25. 332,791 people have been tested, and 6.1% of those tests have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1,662,414 COVID-19 cases and 98,261 deaths as of May 26.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Situation Report for May 26 reports 5,404,512 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 343,514 deaths.

Antibody Testing for Employees

Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center and Airlift Northwest leadership distributed messages today to front-line staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients letting them know that they are eligible for a no-cost COVID-19 antibody test. The testing will be done in phases and eventually will be offered to our entire UW Medicine workforce, including employees who are not involved with direct patient care.

Interested employees who are eligible for testing during this first phase have been given a link to a survey to check if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. After taking the survey, the employee is then directed to a calendaring system to make an appointment for a blood draw.

We are offering this testing in stages so that the system is not overwhelmed. As soon as phase one testing is complete, we will expand our list of employees who may opt to test for COVID-19 antibodies. Testing is not mandatory, and the test results will be part of your employee health record. For more information, please see the antibody testing FAQ.

In the News

  • A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that the antiviral drug remdesivir reduced recovery time by about one-third in hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19, according to preliminary results. “The main take-home messages are that remdesivir is effective in reducing the duration of illness in people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 – but it’s obviously not a cure-all. There was still a very high mortality in both groups. It gives us something to work with, but we will need other treatments on top of this antiviral to really improve outcomes,” said Dr. Helen Chu, a study co-author and an assistant professor of allergy and infectious diseases at the University of Washington School of Medicine. See Remdesivir speeds recovery in cases of severe COVID-19.

UW Medicine continues to be on the forefront of COVID-19 patient care and research while also finding creative ways to support our community in facing the stress of the pandemic and building resiliency. As always, I am incredibly grateful for everything UW Medicine staff, trainees and faculty have accomplished and will accomplish.


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