Skip to main content

Quick Read:

  • With four omicron variants in circulation, COVID-19 transmission levels are likely to remain high.
  • UW Medicine has begun offering COVID-19 vaccines to the newest eligible age group, children from 6 months to 5 years.
  • As of July 1, Harborview and UW Medical Center will no longer require a preoperative COVID-19 PCR test for patients undergoing elective procedures in the main operating rooms.

As we finally wade into summer, leaving chilly spring weather behind, COVID-19 continues to be very active. The pandemic is still with us — and according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s ongoing Household Pulse Survey, we may be entering an even tougher stage to navigate, with the virus still mutating and four variants in circulation. The current majority omicron variants, BA.2 and BA.2.12, are being replaced by even more transmissible strains, most importantly BA.5. How this will impact the pandemic locally remains to be seen but will likely keep transmission levels at the current higher level.

In some cases, these variants are causing reinfection, even in some fully vaccinated people. As of this week, the infection rate in King County is leveling off at a high rate. In addition to this plateau, nearly one-third of adults who tested positive for COVID-19 still experienced various symptoms more than a month after the initial infection (often referred to as long COVID). Combined with the ongoing need for healthcare services, our UW Medicine hospitals are full and the strain on our staffing levels is being felt across the organization.

As always, I strongly encourage you to continue to mask up, seek out well-ventilated areas whenever in an indoor public space, and spend as much time outside as possible when with other people. And, despite the possibility of reinfection, vaccinations continue to be the highest level of protection available, especially from more severe disease.

To that end, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have authorized COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest age group, 6 months to 5 years. This is very welcome news for all of us, but especially for those caring for children in this age group.

UW Medicine strongly recommends children get vaccinated to prevent serious illness due to COVID-19 and reduce community spread. To schedule with UW Medicine, call 844.520.8700. For more information, see COVID-19 Vaccine Updates & Information.

Before we get into this week’s case data, a few housekeeping updates:

Beginning Friday, July 1, Harborview and UW Medical Center will no longer require a preoperative COVID-19 PCR test for patients undergoing elective procedures in our main operating rooms. This new policy will apply to patients who have no COVID-like symptoms and who are expected to be discharged after surgery. Patients who require inpatient stays will be tested on admission.

We’ve recommended the discontinuation of pre-op testing based on continual learnings:

  • We have strong data to show that our staff are protected through required respirator use during all aerosol generating procedures and the highly efficient ventilation in our main operating rooms and PACUs.
  • Our preoperative COVID-19 test positivity rates are low and have been throughout the pandemic.
  • Requiring a PCR test is increasingly burdensome for patients as many test sites in the community are closing. This is especially true for individuals and populations with ongoing and historical barriers to care.

Negative tests that are a few days old may be falsely reassuring.

covid trends june 30

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 463,632 total cases and 2,888 deaths as of June 29. The number of new positive tests over the past seven days is currently at 321.7 per 100,000 people.

Washington: The Department of Health reports 1,659,152 cases and 13,239 deaths as of June 28.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 145,498 new cases, 87,298,343 total cases and 1,012,767 deaths as of June 30.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 544,324,069 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,332,963 deaths as of June 30.

In closing, we’re coming up on the July 4 weekend. That often means time spent outdoors, with family and friends, barbecues and (legal) fireworks. For our community, the holiday weekend often means a busier Harborview. Coupled with strains on staff due to higher infection rates, I want to reiterate my appreciation for all you do, every day. On the bright side, school is out, the weather is turning toward summer, and we’ll all have more opportunities to get outside, where COVID-19 transmission risk is lower.

Have a safe and relaxing Fourth of July!


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