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As of today, King County joins Pierce and Snohomish Counties in moving to Phase 2. Many of us are excited to see this progress toward more “normal” activities. At the same time, reopening increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission as a larger number of people leave their homes and some, mistakenly, believe that reopening means that COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

It is important to remember that there are more cases of COVID-19 in the community now than there were in February before the surge occurred. Unless we do things differently, we will see another surge in cases in the community and in the hospitals. The best way for us to mitigate the increased risk with reopening and to keep everyone safe is to continue to follow the safety interventions we know work well:

  • Physical distancing (6 feet or greater) whenever possible (including break rooms, locker rooms, etc.). Physical distancing is critically important when eating or drinking with coworkers since masks come off during this time. We recognize that this can be hard, as break rooms are sometimes small, but these are potentially high-risk situations if one person is in the asymptomatic phase of COVID-19.
  • Hand hygiene frequently throughout the day.
  • Required masking for all staff, patients, visitors and vendors.
  • Wear eye protection whenever there is potential risk of a patient coughing or sneezing or exposure to any blood or other body fluids. Healthcare personnel doing patient-facing clinical work, especially when a patient is not wearing a mask, should consider wearing eye protection continuously.
  • Environmental cleaning.
  • Staying home when ill and getting tested if you have ANY symptoms associated with COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, gastrointestinal symptoms, headache and runny nose).

The UW Medicine Infection Prevention team has developed a patient safety COVID-19 fact sheet for patients to learn more about what we at UW Medicine are doing to keep our patients and their families safe in the era of COVID-19.

Best of health,

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