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After more than a year of collective struggle and sacrifice, I find great promise in the fact that we as a community have the tools and resources to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, it’s the availability of vaccines that makes me most hopeful.

Every day, it becomes easier in King County to book an appointment or receive a first (or second) dose. Every day, more of our family members, friends and neighbors become fully vaccinated. Looking back just at this week:

  • UW Medicine opened a fifth vaccination clinic, the North King County Vaccination Clinic in Shoreline, expanding access to the Moderna vaccine to residents 18 and older. Yes, appointments are available and walk-ins are accepted!
  • Our vaccine team has nearly eliminated our appointment waitlist — a feat that required callbacks and scheduling of tens of thousands of people. Not to mention, they’ve done an incredible job managing demand and navigating various solutions through the phases and tiers of eligibility. Great work, team!
  • The CDC recommended resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, restoring a single-dose option that has proven effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

All these developments are positive signs and reasons to believe that despite the recent uptick in COVID-19 activity locally, healthier times are ahead.

Today’s update includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Vaccination Summary
  • New CDC Guidance on Masking
  • Upcoming Respirator Policy Change

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Marketo_Inpatient Census_4.30.21

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 98,095 total cases and 1,525 deaths as of Thursday, April 29. The number of new positive tests is currently at 241.1/14 days/100,000 people. The effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 1.3 (estimate range: 0.8 – 1.7).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 372,262 confirmed cases and 5,487 deaths as of April 28. Of the 6,508,152 people who have been tested, 5.7% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 53,051 new cases, 32,031,068 total COVID-19 cases and 571,297 deaths as of April 29.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 150,110,310 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,158,792 deaths as of April 30.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of April 29

Marketo_Vaccination Table 4.30.21

*Total Doses Given: 255,735. Site numbers represent total doses administered to employees, patients and community members.

New CDC Guidance on Masking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week updated its guidance on mask-wearing outdoors, notably to say that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors unless in certain crowded settings like sporting events or concerts. While this is good news and reflects what we know about the lower risks of COVID-19 transmission outdoors, it does not mean we should completely let our guard down outside our homes.

Key indicators of COVID-19 activity continue to rise in King County, and it’s increasingly likely we will be returned to Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery plan following the next evaluation on May 3. This would again limit businesses and restaurants to 25% capacity and be a disappointing setback given the progress we’ve made in vaccinating the community. If we end up rolling back, the silver lining is it’s a good excuse to enjoy the nicer spring weather and spend more time outdoors.

Upcoming Respirator Policy Change

It’s not in effect yet, but you will be hearing more in the coming weeks about an expansion of respirator usage at our hospitals, emergency departments and clinics for all suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients. We will share updated policy details once the change officially rolls out.

From our vaccine clinic volunteers to our hard-working staff, I’m grateful every day for everyone involved in the UW Medicine vaccination effort. You have risen to the challenge and demonstrated who we are at our best — even during times we may be feeling our worst.

Keep up the good work and, if you haven’t scheduled your first-dose appointment yet, I encourage you to do it now. Tell your friends and family members to do the same. If you have questions about the vaccine, please talk to your primary care provider or let me know so that we can get you the answers you need! The faster we get more people vaccinated, the faster we will get back to our much more normal lives.


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