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Though our hospitals remain at full capacity, we continue to see an improvement in COVID-19 cases, along with fewer hospitalizations. Statewide data also shows a downward trend in new cases across the region.

This week, Gov. Jay Inslee lifted the state’s outdoor masking requirements, and at his press conference today, he announced that the masking mandate for schools and many public indoor spaces will end on Monday, March 21, based on hospital occupancy projections. King County also announced this week that vaccine verification will no longer be required in businesses such as restaurants, theaters and gyms beginning March 1.

While the declining numbers are welcome and positive signs of progress, the masking mandate for healthcare facilities remains in place. At UW Medicine, our  current masking and visitor vaccination or negative test requirements will continue at our hospitals and clinics. We will also continue to align our policies with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, and we will keep you informed of new developments.

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 362,254 total cases and 2,515 deaths as of Thursday, Feb. 17. The number of new positive tests over the last seven days is currently at 324 per 100,000 people (community transmission level = high).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 1,410,499 cases and 11,522 deaths as of Feb. 15.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 109,999 new cases, 77,950,910 total COVID-19 cases and 923,067 deaths as of Feb. 16.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 416,614,051 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 5,844,097 deaths as of Feb. 17.

With Seattle Public Schools and other area schools having mid-winter break next week, we want to take this opportunity to remind you that UW Medicine testing sites offer travel and assurance testing and are now open. We hope you will take advantage of this if you are planning that well-deserved and much-needed getaway or gathering.

Also, a reminder that all UW Medicine employees (except for those in non-clinical roles in the School of Medicine) are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot or complete a declination process by Friday, March 4, 2022. If you haven’t received your booster, please go to and get your shot scheduled.

For those who are immunocompromised, the CDC has updated its recommended intervals between the primary series and booster shots from 5 months to 3 months. They are also recommending third doses for those who received the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine — the original dose followed by a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines) at least four weeks (28 days) after the first dose, plus a booster (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least two months after the second dose.

In addition to vaccines, UW Medicine provides patients with access to several therapeutics used to treat COVID-19, including oral antivirals and monoclonal antibody (mAb) infusions for patients who are at risk for progressing to severe COVID-19, as well as mAb intramuscular injections for pre-exposure prevention for patients who are severely immunocompromised. And while we are excited to be able to offer these treatments, we continue to stress the efficacy of vaccines and boosters to prevent infection and severe illness.

Finally, as we reach this turning point in what has been a difficult and heartbreaking surge, we want to take a moment to reflect on all that our UW Medicine teams have accomplished — over the past two years, certainly, but also over the past few months.

Since December 15, 2021, we tested 55,837 patients at our inpatient and outpatient sites. We cared for 1,232 patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals, including 245 who required critical care on our ICU units. But through it all, our commitment to our patients and our community remained strong.

We could not have done any of this without all of you, so we truly thank you for all that you do every day. We hope you get a break, or just a chance to breathe in some of the crisp, pre-spring air, and find some much-needed time to recharge.


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

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