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COVID-19 transmission continues at a high level throughout our region — we’re seeing this reflected by a rising number of patients admitted with COVID-19 in our hospitals. We are hopeful that the reinstatement of the mask requirement in indoor public spaces and ongoing attention to vaccination will soon help bring these numbers down. But the highly transmissible delta variant that has driven this surge remains a threat, especially to the unvaccinated.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals ages 16 and older. Moving forward, you might hear this vaccine referred to as Comirnaty, the name by which it will be marketed. It will continue to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals ages 12 to 15.

While we’ve seen for months that all three available vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness and death due to COVID-19, we are optimistic that full FDA approval will reinforce the safety and quality of the vaccine for the public — and help sway individuals who may have been waiting to get vaccinated.

Still, we know many in our community have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and their health. To help, we have resumed our weekly “Community Conversations: Straight Talk about COVID-19.” You can find recordings of last week’s programs, which included a discussion of the delta variant, in English and Spanish. Please feel free to share these links with anyone you think might benefit.

Today’s update also includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Getting a third dose
  • Monoclonal antibody treatment program
  • COVID-19 testing for employees

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 125,682 total confirmed cases and 1,748 deaths as of Thursday, Aug. 26. The number of new positive tests is currently at 180.2/7 days/100,000 people (community transmission level = high).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 491,869 confirmed cases and 6,471 deaths as of Aug. 25. Of the 8,822,358 people who have been tested, 5.6% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 164,952 new cases, 38,341,339 total COVID-19 cases and 631,440 deaths as of Aug. 26.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 214,468,601 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,470,969 deaths as of Aug. 27.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of Aug. 26

*Site numbers show the number of employees, patients and community members who received vaccines at each site and the total number of first, second and third doses administered.

Getting a third dose

We continue to offer third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised individuals, while at the same time preparing for next month’s anticipated approval of booster shots for anyone who received their second dose at least six months earlier. To accommodate present and future demand, we have re-opened our high-volume vaccination site at Shoreline Community College on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and starting next week, Harborview will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. At this time, appointments are required at all locations.

Monoclonal antibody treatment program

Our monoclonal antibody treatment program for COVID-19 has been on hold this week while we worked on developing the outpatient process. We will offer treatment at the UWMC Montlake and Northwest Emergency Departments starting Monday, August 30, by appointment only (we are not accepting walk-ins), and we will launch the program at Harborview the upcoming week. We are still updating the referral policy; in the meantime, starting on Monday, please email with patient referrals. A clinical team will review all patients diagnosed with COVID-19 within the UW Medicine outpatient system to determine eligibility for monoclonal antibody therapy. Following review and confirmation, patients will receive a call to discuss treatment and scheduling.

COVID-19 testing for employees

As a reminder, if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, you have access to testing through UW Medicine. To make an appointment, please complete the testing survey. Immediate family members of employees are also able to receive priority testing through the UW Medicine testing sites by calling 206.520.5050. For travel testing, employees can find a convenient UW Medicine test site at

Next week, most public schools in the area are set to re-open for in-person learning and many parents are understandably anxious. With COVID-19 vaccination not yet available for those under age 12, the best thing we can do to protect the health of kids in our community is to get vaccinated and continue to enforce the safety protocols we know work, including masking (especially in indoor spaces and crowded outdoor spaces as well), physical distancing and hand washing. It takes everyone’s help. Thank you for doing your part toward slowing the pandemic and for being an example to your family, friends and community.


Chloe Bryson-Cahn, MD
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Harborview Medical Center

Seth Cohen, MD, MSc
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
University of Washington Medical Center

Shireesha Dhanireddy, MD
Medical Director, Infectious Disease Clinic
Harborview Medical Center

Abir “Abby” Hussein, MD, MPH
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
University of Washington Medical Center

Nandita Mani, MD
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
University of Washington Medical Center