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UW Medicine COVID-19 Update March 7, 2020

The past week has been a challenging time for our health system and region. With increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, our primary focus is the care of our patients and their families, protection our caregivers and staff, and partnership with Public Health in controlling SARS-CoV-2 transmission in our region.

Highlighted below is information about UW Medicine changes in procedures, University of Washington operational responses to COVID-19 and other helpful information for our workforce.

  • COVID-19 Policies and Protocols
  • Social Distancing
  • Employee Testing
  • Protective Personal Equipment (PPE)
  • FAQ for Staff with Respiratory Infections
  • Screening and Care Protocols for Immunocompromised Patients
  • Screening and Care Protocols for Pregnant Patients
  • Zoom Meetings
  • Resources
  • Situation Report

COVID-19 Policies and Protocols: All employees have access to the most up-to-date COVID-19 clinical protocols, policies and procedures on the UW Medicine SharePoint site. You can use the COVID-19 shortcut on your desktop to reach this site.

COVID-19 Icon

Social Distancing: We are recommending that people avoid large gatherings, if possible. At work, we encourage faculty and staff to consider cancelling or postponing large group meetings and other non-essential meetings. If you must meet in person, practice social distancing during your meeting to allow space between you and your colleagues (one empty chair between meeting participants).

Employee Testing: We have opened a COVID-19 employee screening service located on the UW Medical Center – Northwest campus. Employees who have symptoms consistent with an acute respiratory infection (such as fever, new cough, new shortness of breath) must fill out a brief survey and submit it to the screening team. You will be contacted by Employee Health with instructions on how to proceed for testing if clinically indicated. Employees will be tested by appointment only. Walk-ins are not allowed.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): UW Medicine, has revised its recommendations for PPE when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. This decision was based on our evidenced-based understanding of SARS-CoV-2 (virus that causes COVID-19) and is in alignment with World Health Organization (WHO), Washington Department of Health (DOH), Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), and other local health systems. Please refer to the revised PPE Recommendations Schematic and Detailed Summary and Rationale for PPE Recommendations on our COVID-19 Website.

FAQ for Staff with Respiratory Infections: Staff with acute respiratory symptoms (such as fever, new cough or shortness of breath) can be tested for COVID-19 in our new screening facility on the UW Medical Center – Northwest campus. Although screening is not mandatory, staff with symptoms are encouraged to fill out the survey that will be reviewed before an appointment is arranged. No walk-ins will be accepted. Managers will only be informed of the results of a positive test if you worked while you were ill so that your co-workers can be contacted and tested. For more information, please refer to the FAQ for UW Medicine Employees with Acute Respiratory Symptoms on our COVID-19 Website.

Screening and Care Protocols for Immunocompromised Patients: Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is available and can be ordered in ORCA and Epic. Since other respiratory viruses, including influenza, are circulating in the community, we recommend that testing for SARS-CoV-2 be ordered in conjunction with Rapid Influenza/ RSV PCR or Extended Respiratory Viral panel PCR for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms in selected circumstances. See Immunocompromised Patients Protocol on our COVID-19 Website.

Screening and Care Protocols for Pregnant Patients: We have developed guidelines for phone and in-person screening for pregnant women as well as procedural changes for Labor and Delivery for both known and suspected COVID-19 patients. Additionally, we are restricting all visitors in the perinatal and newborn areas across UW Medicine. Mothers may have a single partner onsite who must remain on the unit. No children under 16 will be allowed. See Pregnant Patients Protocol on our COVID-19 Website.

Zoom Meetings: As an alternative to in-person meetings, UW Zoom Pro is now free to all current faculty, staff and students. Any member of the UW community in these categories may now schedule and host Zoom meetings of unlimited duration. For HIPAA compliance, UW Medicine employees should be sure to access Zoom by signing into the HIPAA UW Zoom option.

Situation Report: The Washington State Department of Health reports 58 confirmed cases in King County, including 10 deaths, as of March 6, 2020. Across the state, there are 79 confirmed cases and 11 deaths. These numbers continue to change daily.

Nationally, the CDC reports that 164 people have been diagnosed with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 in 19 states. The CDC has issued travel health notices for the following countries and territories: China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong. For the most current COVID-19 country list, please refer to our Current Outbreak List on our COVID-19 Website. The World Health Organization reports a total of 101,927 confirmed cases globally as of March 7, 2020. In China, 80,813 confirmed cases and 3,073 deaths have been reported.