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This week brings the continuation of reassuring COVID-19 data trends in our region. The risk of hospitalization and death from the disease in King County is declining, and we currently have fewer than 20 COVID-19 patients in our UW Medicine hospital system.

This is positive news, but I also want to recognize that the recent destructive wildfires in Washington, California and Oregon have unfortunately created a different kind of public health issue. I know we are all feeling exhausted from the constraints of the pandemic and, now, we can’t even see or feel the sun or be outside without being exposed to smoke. At the same time, we continue to rise to the challenge. 2020 has instilled in us a special resilience to persist through all of this, and I am reminded of your dedication to keeping our community safe and healthy, even on the hardest days.

My message today provides details on our upcoming UW flu shot clinics, a notification of temporary downtime for the COVID-19 employee testing survey and details on the Husky Coronavirus Testing Program.

Updates for today:

  • UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary
  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Employee Flu Shot Clinics Opening Sept. 28
  • COVID-19 Employee Testing Survey Alert for Sept. 18
  • Husky Coronavirus Testing Program for School of Medicine

 UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

COVID-19 Positive Inpatients Data Sept. 17

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 21,158 total cases and 748 deaths as of Wednesday, Sept. 16. Approximately 3.8% of all tests performed are positive, and the number of new positive tests is currently at 55/14 days/100,000 people. As of Sept. 16, the effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 0.6 (estimate range: 0.0-1.5). Although the confidence interval crosses 1, the trend is in the right direction and is consistent with the downward trend in new cases.

Washington: The Department of Health reports 80,812 cases and 2,020 deaths as of Sept. 16. Of the 1,676,702 people who have been tested, 4.8% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 6,571,867 COVID-19 cases and 195,053 deaths as of Sept. 16.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard as of September 17 reports 29,737,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 937,391 deaths.

Employee Flu Shot Clinics Opening Sept. 28

As the flu season threatens to collide with COVID-19, getting a flu shot this year is more important than ever. Influenza and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, which means that if a person goes to a clinic or emergency department with “flu-like” symptoms, they will have to be treated as possibly having COVID-19 at the same time. In addition to physical distancing, staying home when ill, hand hygiene and universal masking, the influenza vaccine is a powerful tool to reduce infections. We are counting on every person who can get a vaccine to do so.

The UW Medicine employee influenza program is back in full swing, starting on Monday, Sept. 28. Since this has been so successful in the past, we are not making any major changes. As with prior years, compliance with the flu prevention program is required for UW Medicine clinical personnel.

There will be sites for vaccinations posted at the medical centers and rovers on units and in clinics. For those of you who are not UW Medicine clinical staff, trainees, students or faculty, the UW is hosting flu shot clinics at various locations, including the UW Tower, South Lake Union, and UW Virology. Please search the list of clinics and register for a time slot.

Although we have different options for different groups, the most important thing to remember is to get a flu shot by the beginning of November so we can be as prepared and as safe as possible. For people who are working at home, you will need to go to one of the hospital campuses or clinics, one of the UW sites, a local pharmacy or your primary care provider. More information also will be available on your local intranet site.
COVID-19 Employee Testing Survey Alert for Sept. 18

The UW Medicine Employee COVID-19 Testing Survey will be unavailable from 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, to 1 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, for a program upgrade. During this brief period, you will not be able to take the survey, which is required prior to scheduling an appointment for COVID-19 PCR testing.

Employees eligible for testing must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • New or worsening symptoms associated with COVID-19. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, muscle aches or pains, loss of smell or taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, fever > 100°F/38°C, sore throat, or headache.
  • Direction to undergo nasal swab testing by Public Health, Employee Health or another entity.

If you meet at least one of the above criteria, please plan to complete the survey before or after the program upgrade.

Husky Coronavirus Testing Program for School of Medicine

Enrollment in the voluntary Husky Coronavirus Testing program begins Sept. 24 and is encouraged for all non-clinical UW School of Medicine students, trainees, faculty and staff, regardless of symptoms. Testing will be at designated sites on the UW Seattle campus. Clinical students, trainees, faculty and staff should continue to use the UW Medicine testing sites.

The program will be run by the Seattle Flu Study (SFS) – the group that was the first to report community spread of COVID-19 in the United States. UW Medicine will be providing initial testing to support on-campus housing move-in for students and then will transition testing and tracking over to SFS and the Husky Coronavirus Testing team. Note: UW Medicine clinical personnel should continue to follow UW Medicine’s testing protocol.

UW School of Medicine faculty and staff interested in being notified when enrollment opens, please fill out this short form.

As we head into fall, it’s crucial that we take routine measures like getting the flu shot and continue to follow COVID-19 safety precautions like mask wearing and social distancing. More change is inevitable as the days and weeks pass, so remind yourself to find that moment of peace in the midst of all this, take a breath (indoors or behind a mask) and check in with your friends and family. Please also remember that even when we’re feeling apart, we are part of something larger than ourselves – this collaborative public health and safety effort as UW Medicine colleagues and members of our community.

And one final reminder: UW Medicine Town Hall with Dr. Trish Kritek and Dr. Anne Browning is happening at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18. Send in your questions and Zoom in!


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