by Andrew Engelson
Nearly one year after the first outbreak of COVID-19 in King County and the nation, public health officials and King County Executive Dow Constantine say they are cautiously optimistic about the spread of the virus. Effective prevention measures combined with slow but steadily increasing vaccinations have the potential to “put the pandemic in the rear view mirror,” said Public Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin in an online press briefing on Friday. But concerns remain, including the discovery of two new SARS-CoV-2 strains in the county, and pressure among those tiring of restrictions to let up on prevention strategies such as masking and limits on gatherings.In addition, inequitable access to vaccines remains a concern.
Continue reading One Year After First COVID-19 Outbreak, County Health Officials Cautiously Optimistic
by Ashley Archibald
Novel coronavirus vaccination efforts are ramping up in Washington State while hospitalization rates and deaths are declining statewide, but Washingtonians need to continue prevention strategies to keep the curve down and keep stress off the health care systems, Washington health officials said in an online briefing on Thursday.
Continue reading Washington DOH Cautiously Optimistic About COVID-19, Urges Vigilance on Variants
by Carolyn Bick
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) today announced that it, along with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the UW Medicine Virology Lab — have detected yet another novel coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2) variant in the state, in addition to the already-present B.1.1.7 variant. The new variant was detected in King County, the DOH said in a press release. At the same time, the DOH also announced on Tuesday that it has confirmed an additional 19 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the state.
Continue reading State Detects First Case of New Coronavirus Variant With Higher Vaccine Resistance
by Carolyn Bick
Washington State has expanded the number of days school districts may offer in-person learning, but teachers will not be moved into earlier phases of vaccination, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference on Feb. 16. Inslee did not immediately provide details on the number of days included in the increase. The State’s rationale for encouraging in-person learning without ensuring that all teachers are vaccinated is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not included vaccinating teachers in its base-level guidance that can help to determine whether in-person learning is safe. The State will allow parents to keep their children on remote learning plans, if they so choose.
In his announcement, Inslee pointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recently updated publication regarding operational strategy for schools to open for in-person learning. He said that the CDC’s guidance “broadly aligns” with the State’s suggestions and that the CDC has “also made very clear that mass vaccination of our teachers is not a prerequisite to going back to school.”
In its guidance, the CDC also says that “[t]he following public health efforts provide additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools” and lists “[t]esting to identify individuals with a SARS-CoV-2 infection to limit transmission and outbreaks” and “[v]accination for teachers, staff, and in communities as soon as supply allows.”
Continue reading State Officials Push School Reopening Plan, Drawing on Data From Studies of Predominantly White Student Groups in Handful of U.S. Studies
by Carolyn Bick
Cases of COVID-19 in King County and throughout the state of Washington may be going down, but Public Health — Seattle & King County’s Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin says that this is just the calm before the “serious storm on the horizon.”
Continue reading As Inslee Allows More Counties to Open, King County’s Public Health Officer Warns of ‘Serious Storm on the Horizon’
by Carolyn Bick
Despite the fact that a new, more contagious and potentially deadlier variant of the novel coronavirus has already been detected in the state, Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 28 that he would bank on the State’s ability to administer enough vaccines to stay ahead of the spread — despite the fact that the new variant is expected to become the dominant form of the virus by March — and open up King County and a few other counties in two of the state’s eight regions to Phase 2.
King County and the other counties in these two regions will be able to move into Phase 2 on Monday, Feb. 1. Moving into Phase 2 means that these counties’ restaurants will now be able to have indoor dining and their fitness facilities will once again be permitted to open. Indoor activities have been shown to increase the risk of catching and spreading the novel coronavirus.
Continue reading Banking on Vaccine, Hope, in the Face of a More Contagious Virus Variant, Inslee Allows King County to Relax COVID Restrictions