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As I write this, we’re experiencing one of the more stable periods we’ve seen since the pandemic began. Even with the Omicron variant making its way through our community and case rates increasing, our high vaccination rates and the effectiveness of booster shots have enabled us to stay ahead of another potential surge and to keep people from ending up in the hospital. With that, I want to take this opportunity to share a bit about what we’ve been doing since our last update — and what we’re starting to plan for in the future.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is still very active, paying close attention to COVID-19 activity and monitoring its effects. We are also looking ahead to fall and winter, thinking about what might happen when colder weather brings us all back inside.

For instance, we’re reviewing what testing will look like once community sites ramp down operations and testing becomes less widely accessible. We’re also giving thought to the implications of in-person school and work situations, as we will be in classrooms and offices at the same time as the “regular” cold and flu season hits. Having time to prepare makes me hopeful that we’ll be ready for whatever comes our way.

Today’s update also includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Second Boosters for People 50 and Older
  • Masking Requirements
  • Long COVID-19
  • In-Person Meetings

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 378,889 total cases and 2,704 deaths as of Wednesday, April 6. The number of new positive tests over the past seven days is currently at 110.1 per 100,000 people.

Washington: The Department of Health reports 1,464,398 cases and 12,544 deaths as of April 5.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 38,257 new cases, 80,111,065 total cases and 981,187 deaths as of April 7.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 493,392,853 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,165,833 deaths as of April 7.

Second Boosters for People 50 and Older

While second booster shots are now available for this age group, I still believe the two vaccination shots with a single booster shot will provide ample protection for most people, especially those without other medical problems. However, if you think you would benefit from a second booster, please contact Employee Health or your primary care provider for more information. Guidance for second boosters for other eligible groups is available on the CDC website.

Masking Requirements

With the rollback of mask mandates in the community and the uptick in COVID-19 infection rates due to the BA.2 variant, UW Medicine will continue to assess the situation. For now, we’re choosing to stay the course and follow CDC guidance on masking in all areas within our hospitals and clinics. We are committed to maintaining the strategies that create a safe environment for everyone: our patients, visitors and staff. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, COVID-19 infections can still cause us harm and disrupt our lives.

Long COVID-19

We are looking at long COVID-19 and how it has affected healthcare workers. While we still have a lot to learn, several teams are working to get a better understanding of its myriad forms. If you have questions or concerns, I suggest starting with Dr. Janna Friedly’s comments in a recent news story: ‘Pretty life-changing’: Some still dealing with long COVID symptoms two years later. As additional resources become available, we will share them in future updates.

In-Person Meetings

We have retired our policy on in-person meetings to simplify current requirements. The take-home is that in-person meetings are allowed in all UW Medicine sites. In the clinical sites where masks are required, participants in meetings must wear a mask, distance as possible, and not eat or drink during the meeting.

Now that spring is here and longer days and milder weather have arrived, I hope you will take every opportunity to get outside and take in the fresh air, together with friends and loved ones. While I’ll always urge caution and taking steps toward health and safety, I also hope you can all find time to enjoy what has been a hard-earned moment of relaxation.


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