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New guidelines from the CDC this week gave the go-ahead for fully vaccinated people to resume some aspects of their pre-pandemic normal. It’s important to note, however, the recommendations come with limits and apply only to private settings. In most circumstances, including across all of our UW Medicine facilities, fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions and follow masking and physical distancing protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

Still, the release of this guidance is progress and another promising sign the vaccines are working.

We know the question of what fully vaccinated people can resume doing comes up often, however, and will continue to be of interest as more people achieve that status and our vaccination efforts increase in the coming weeks and months. To recap, according to CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated people:

  • May visit indoors with other fully vaccinated people without masking or physical distancing.
  • May visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masking or physical distancing, provided the unvaccinated people are at a low risk of experiencing severe COVID-19.
  • Do not have to quarantine and test following a known exposure, if not experiencing symptoms. Exception for clinical areas: We continue to require vaccinated individuals who work in clinical areas and live with a person with COVID-19 to home quarantine. All exposures should be reported to Employee Health for risk assessment. CDC released additional guidance for vaccinated healthcare workers yesterday, and this update is being evaluated by the Medical Technical Team.

People are considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after receiving a second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or at least two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the newest safe and effective vaccine approved for distribution. To learn more, visit our UW Medicine Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ page.

While we all are looking forward to putting the pandemic behind us, we must remain vigilant to maintain the strides we’ve made and prevent another surge this spring. Thank you for remaining committed to our preventative measures and for the high level of care and professionalism you continue to show our patients.

Today’s update includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Vaccination Summary
  • Support for Employees Seeking Mental Health Assistance

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

COVID-19 Inpatient Numbers

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 83,653 total cases and 1,429 deaths as of March 11. The number of new positive tests is currently at 86/14 days/100,000 people. The effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 1.0 (estimate range: 0.4 – 1.6).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 327,000 confirmed cases and 5,100 deaths as of March 9. Of the 5,470,909 people who have been tested, 6% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 52,815 new cases, 28,992,598 total COVID-19 cases and 526,213 deaths as of March 10.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 117,573,007 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,610,925 deaths as of March 11.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of March 10

UW Medicine Vaccine Numbers

*Total Doses Given: 126,113. Site numbers represent total doses administered to employees, patients and community members.

Support for Employees Seeking Mental Health Assistance

UW Medicine has added another option for employees trying to navigate the emotional toll and impact of COVID-19. In addition to the employee assistance program, CareLink, the Employee Mental Health Support (EMHS) program is a new tool to help employees and their household members who may be struggling. The program helps you navigate the variety of mental health support services available to you. I encourage you to tap into one of the resources during this stressful time. You can explore your options here.

With the approach of spring next week come longer days and brighter skies. After a long and hard winter, the earlier sunrises and later sunsets couldn’t come soon enough, at least for me. Greater access to vaccinations for everyone will only make things better, as we begin to head in the direction that we have all been waiting for.

We will continue to make changes to our policies and practices at UW Medicine as these vaccines become more widely available. I hope we can embrace these encouraging days, while also remembering the road we are on is still long. Thank you, as always, for your dedication and collaboration as we forge ahead together.

Remember to “spring forward” on Sunday!

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