Tag Archives: Covid-19

Weekend Long Reads: COVID-19 and the Flu

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s “long read” is a column from Dr. Arnold S. Monto, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Our hopes that COVID-19 could be eradicated, he says, were based on faulty assumptions, and we now need to shift to planning for how we will deal with the virus for the foreseeable future — much the same way that we manage influenza.

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Washington Latino Communities Still Lag in Vaccinations, Warns Researcher

by Sally James

Now is not the time to feel safe in regard to the threat of COVID-19, especially for Latino communities, warns physician Leo Morales, the leader of the Latino Center for Health at the University of Washington (UW). The group just released a policy statement based on vaccination numbers from around the state.

“The greatest risk we face now is to be complacent … We cannot rest until we have reached all unvaccinated and under-vaccinated Latinos in our state,” said Morales in a press statement about the policy brief. 

Health disparities that lead to a higher risk of hospitalization and death for Latino people, in comparison to white people, will likely continue, even as boosters and new shots for children ages 5 to 11 become available across the state. 

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COVID-19 Numbers Show We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

by Sally James

Nothing about COVID-19 follows a predictable path. This week is no exception. In the past few days, there was a mixed bag of encouraging news and news of concern, both nationally and locally.

Overall, the state case rate continues to drop. According to the Washington State Dept. of Health (DOH) there are 234 cases per 100,000 people, and of those, 11 per 100,000 are in the hospital. Both numbers are down from earlier this month. 

But that good news is tinged with the reality that these are still close to numbers during the peak of last winter’s surge. Taking care of COVID-19 patients has forced hospitals to delay treatment for other patients, especially in Spokane. 

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Communication Key as South Seattle Schools Reporting Disproportionate COVID-19 Cases

by Ari Robin McKenna

With public school students back learning in-person for the second week during a delta variant surge, parents and guardians await crucial, timely information from their school or district in the event there are COVID-19 cases at their child’s school. Such information helps parents and guardians keep their kids safe and take precautions that impact collective safety. In South Seattle and southwest King County — where the majority of People of Color in the county live and where higher COVID-19 case rates have persisted throughout the pandemic — clear, transparent, effective communication becomes even more crucial. In these historically under-resourced communities, plenty of doubts remain about current communication during this delta stage of the pandemic.

When Seattle Public Schools (SPS) refreshed their COVID-19 dashboard on Monday evening for last school week, they reported 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases within their 104 schools and other educational sites. Ten of those cases were in the northwest and northeast districts, and 24 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the southwest and southeast districts. This is despite the total number of students actually being 2,984 higher in the north. Though this week-one data set is minuscule, it accedes to the norms of the bigger picture: Seattle-wide, parents and guardians anxiously sent their kids to school on the first day, and perhaps predictably, more than twice as many from the South End have gotten sick.

To put the disparate current infection rates in perspective, a glance at the current King County “Daily COVID-19 outbreak summary dashboard” geography stub on Sept. 8 shows all of the highest reporting areas to be in the southwest corner of the county map. Central Federal Way, SeaTac/Tukwila, and South Auburn have the county’s highest COVID-19 positive case rates per 100,000 residents at 11,224.4, 11,328.6, and 12,843.1 respectively. Meanwhile, by contrast, whiter north Seattle neighborhoods have some of the county’s lowest rates, such as Ballard, Fremont/Green Lake, and northeast Seattle, which are at 2,996.1, 2,958.3, and 3,693.8 respectively.

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Starting School as Strong as We Can: Advice and Thoughts From Educators

by Erin Okuno

Starting school in 2021 will be a different experience than 2020, when almost all the schools in the country were remote/distance learning. This week, Seattle Public School (SPS) students are returning to classrooms, some for the first time in over a year and a half. 

To help families and students prepare for the new school year, I asked educators to share advice and thoughts they want parents and caregivers to know as we head back to school with COVID-19 still prevalent. 

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FICTION: Fishbowls

by Megan Christy

Mrs. C sprinkled the fish flakes into the bowl. They floated down, down to the rocky bottom. Minos drifted toward the flakes, his elegant fins fluttering in the water. The schoolteacher looked up from the bowl and scanned her home. What would she need for the new school year? What was she allowed to bring? Nothing that can’t be disinfected. That’s what the principal had said. No more carpet in the classroom, no more story time books ’n’ beanbags, no more Holly the Horse for the kids to hug when they were scared. All those things were gone now, replaced with cold tile floors and plexiglass barricades. All to keep the virus at bay.

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COVID-19 Outbreak at ICE Detention Center Continues

by Luna Reyna

As the delta variant spreads across the country, transfers to Northwest ICE Processing Center are spreading the virus to some of our state’s most vulnerable.

In 2018 the University of Washington Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) began collecting data on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) flights with the assistance of Yakima Immigrant Response Network. These flights, also called ICE Air, were once carried out by the U.S. Marshals. Today, they are carried out by private businesses through private deportation contracts for ICE that are worth millions. According to Phil Neff, project coordinator for the UWCHR, the data revealed that nearly 600 people transferred to Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in June 2021 — the most transfers from ICE Air to the facility since June 2014. With these transfers came the transmission of COVID-19, resulting in the worst outbreak of the virus the facility has ever seen. 

According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health, an outbreak is considered two cases within 14 days of each other. NWIPC reported 32 cases in under 14 days. According to ICE reports, each new case was a transfer from the southern border. “My understanding is that most of them are asylum seekers …” Neff explained. “Under human rights terms, asylum seekers shouldn’t be indefinitely detained.” This number has only increased since June. At least 150 people, including nine guards and one medical personnel, have tested positive. 

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Weekend Long Reads: Long COVID

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s main “long read” deals with a scary topic: “long COVID.” This is how the medical community has come to refer to incidents where a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 initially seems to recover but continues to suffer ongoing symptoms for weeks or even months. Doctors have established two categories of long COVID: “ongoing symptomatic COVID” (OSC), in which symptoms continue on for four to 12 weeks after the initial illness; and “post-COVID syndrome” for symptoms that persist after 12 weeks.

Long COVID is still an emerging phenomenon since COVID-19 has barely been around long enough to start to complete longitudinal studies, but by existing estimates, 10% or more of the general population who contract COVID-19 will have some form of long COVID to follow, and the percentage is much higher in some high-risk populations (including those hospitalized with COVID-19). But little is still known about exactly what the risk factors are for long COVID, and how they compare to COVID-19 itself.

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Delta Variant Poses New Questions About COVID Risk

by Sally James

From time to time the Emerald hopes to help people navigate the complicated landscape of the pandemic. Below we have compiled some answers to some pressing questions about the new COVID-19 Delta variant. 

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told NPR last week, “We are dealing with a different virus now.” It has different capabilities and can be transmitted from person to person more easily. An internal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the new variant as contagious as chickenpox.

Here in Washington State, test positivity rates are increasing and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise. According to the state Department of Health, the Delta variant now comprises 76% of COVID-19 cases.

Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., says, “If there was ever a time to get vaccinated, it is now in the race against this variant.”

Here are some questions and answers to help you make decisions for your family: 

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Weekend Long Reads: Bitterness Isn’t All Bad

by Kevin Schofield

This weekend’s “long read” is a collection of three shorter reads: a trio of research papers on COVID-19. The virus — and the vaccines — have now been around long enough that the medical research community has large and diverse enough data sets to start to really understand this virus. Along the way, researchers are discovering some fascinating and mystifying things. 

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