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Most key metrics show COVID-19 activity continuing to trend downward in King County. Case rates, hospitalizations and deaths all are lower now than they were at the start of September, near the peak of this latest surge. And although our hospital systems continue to be strained by high census, I’m encouraged and cautiously optimistic about the direction we’re headed.

We’ve also been here before and seen how quickly the situation can change when safety measures ease or a new variant emerges. I wish we could promise the worst of the pandemic is behind us. But unfortunately we can’t, not yet.

One thing we do know, however, is that the vaccines are working to protect us. And while booster shots commanded much of the media attention this week, first doses remain far more important in our overall fight against COVID-19.

In King County, we have made tremendous progress. Among residents ages 12 and up, 86.2% have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 80.2% completing their vaccine series. But those numbers drop precipitously when viewed in other counties and states. Worldwide, less than half the population has received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why is that first dose so important? Because it sets people on the path to full vaccination, and fully vaccinated people are eight times less likely to test positive, 44 times less likely to be hospitalized and 55 times less likely to die of COVID-19.

While we support the latest booster recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — and our UW Medicine vaccine teams are now administering those shots at our newly reopened high-volume vaccination sites — we should continue to encourage people who have not yet received the vaccine to do so. That is the key to controlling the pandemic and getting back to more normal lives. We’ll be talking more about all of this during today’s UW Medicine Town Hall. I hope you’ll join via Zoom at 3 p.m.

Also, a reminder that vaccination becomes a condition of employment at UW Medicine as of Oct. 18. The last day you can receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or the second dose in the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine series, to be fully vaccinated by the deadline is Monday, Oct. 4.

Today’s update also includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Vaccination Summary
  • Employee and Family COVID-19 Testing

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 143,000 total confirmed cases and 1,887 deaths as of Thursday, Sept. 30. The number of new positive tests is currently at 145.9/7 days/100,000 people (community transmission level = high).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 584,023 confirmed cases and 7,726 deaths as of Sept. 29. Of the 9,842,443 people who have been tested, 5.93% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 111,086 new cases, 43,289,203 total COVID-19 cases and 694,701 deaths as of Sept. 30.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 233,503,524 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,777,503 deaths as of Oct. 1.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of Sept. 30

*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.

Employee and Family COVID-19 testing

We encourage all employees and families to be tested if you have symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. You and your family can easily access information about how to schedule a COVID-19 test by visiting Employee Resources on the website and clicking on the COVID-19 Testing Access quick link. Testing is easy and helps slow further transmission of the virus.

I mentioned this in last week’s message but wanted to remind everyone that our annual flu vaccine administration begins Monday, Oct. 4. Please check with your Employee Health unit for times and locations.

Until next time, please keep those masks on, get vaccinated if you’re not already, stay safe and be well.


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