Tag Archives: Public Health

King County Commits $7 Million to Increased Vaccination Efforts, Won’t Change Jail COVID Protocols

by Carolyn Bick


King County will be committing $7 million to ramp up vaccination efforts to prevent against COVID-19, with two high-volume vaccination sites slated for South King County in the near future, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced in a public health briefing on Jan. 8.

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BREAKING: Four New COVID Cases Detected at King County Jail

by Carolyn Bick


Four new cases of COVID-19 have been detected at the King County Jail in downtown Seattle, according to an internal email shared with the Emerald on Jan. 4.

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State Avoids Post-Holiday Surge, Won’t Share Personal Information With Federal Government in Vaccination Plan

by Carolyn Bick


Washington State has avoided a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases, but the state — particularly its hospital system — isn’t in the clear yet.

In a press conference on Dec. 16, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy shared graphs from the DOH’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard that show case counts and hospitalizations, including ICU bed occupancy, are levelling off. The Emerald has shared these graphs below. But the trends aren’t yet level, and the state must go beyond just flattening the curve, DOH Health Sec. Dr. John Wiesman said.

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Even With Incoming Vaccine, PHSKC Warns Against Relaxing Masking, Social Distancing Practices

by Carolyn Bick


Though a vaccine is on the way, the COVID-19 situation throughout the state, including in King County — particularly in South King County — appears as though it is going to get much worse, before it gets better.

In a press conference on Dec. 11, Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin laid out the increasingly bad situation the County is facing. Over the past seven days, he said, the County has seen an average of 650 new cases of COVID-19 per day. The number of COVID-19-related deaths per day have ceased to gradually rise, and instead are rapidly rising, currently standing at seven deaths per day. This is up from two deaths per day in September. 

Continue reading Even With Incoming Vaccine, PHSKC Warns Against Relaxing Masking, Social Distancing Practices

State Expects First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine By Next Week, But Most Washingtonians Won’t Get Vaccine Until Mid-2021

by Carolyn Bick


Though roughly 62,000 first doses of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 will be available starting next week, it will only be available for highest risk healthcare workers, Department of Health officials said in a press briefing on Dec. 9. And even though health officials expect the state to get a total of 400,000 combined doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine — if Moderna’s vaccine gets emergency authorization approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration — this number only represents the first dose of the vaccine, which requires two doses to be effective.

The state projects that the first round of doses will be administered by mid-January, Department of Health (DOH) Acting Assistant Secretary Michele Roberts said. She said that this includes highest risk healthcare workers and first responders, as well as long-term care facility residents and staff. She said that these first doses will be matched with the same number of second doses for these same people.

Continue reading State Expects First Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine By Next Week, But Most Washingtonians Won’t Get Vaccine Until Mid-2021

COVID-19 Vaccine May Come Available Soon, But Not Before Hospitals Will Have to Start Implementing Surge Plans

by Carolyn Bick


Aside from starting to cancel non-emergent surgeries and other procedures, there doesn’t appear to be much else healthcare professionals can do to make way for what many see as an inevitable surge in COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations, following Thanksgiving and the December holidays.

Continue reading COVID-19 Vaccine May Come Available Soon, But Not Before Hospitals Will Have to Start Implementing Surge Plans

If State Does Not Curb COVID Trend, Healthcare Workers Will Have to Start Making “Painful Choices,” Experts Warn

by Carolyn Bick


Already, Dr. Nathan Schlicher has lost a patient to a heart attack, due to the patient’s inability to get timely and appropriate care at the hospital. This delay was caused by the skyrocketing rate of COVID-19 cases — a rate Gov. Jay Inslee called “almost vertical” — and associated hospitalizations throughout the state, as hospitals begin to delay certain forms of care, in order to keep up with the increase.

Continue reading If State Does Not Curb COVID Trend, Healthcare Workers Will Have to Start Making “Painful Choices,” Experts Warn

COVID-19 Cases Surging in King County, With South End Continuing to Be Hardest Hit

by Andrew Engelson


In an online press briefing on Friday, Nov. 20, Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle and King County (PHSKC) reported that cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations across the county have spiked in the past two weeks. In response, the County’s top health official made an urgent plea to residents to strictly limit social gatherings in advance of Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

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“We Admitted 10 Patients in Five Hours”: State, Hospitals Rapidly Approaching Critical Case Counts and Hospitalizations

by Carolyn Bick


The dire warnings the state’s top health officials shared with the public just last week appear to be coming to pass. 

In a Washington State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 briefing on Nov. 18, DOH Health Officer Kathy Lofy shared several charts that show what Lofy called a “dramatic,” exponential growth rate in cases of COVID-19 and “sharp increase” in hospitalizations in Western Washington. She also said that the effective reproductive number — also known as the R-naught or R0 number, which is the number of people one person will infect — has continued to rise. It now stands at 1.7 in Eastern Washington, and 1.8 in Western Washington.

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“We Should Probably All Stop Socializing For the Next Several Weeks”: Health Officials Deliver Grim COVID Data, Warnings

by Carolyn Bick


The basic precautionary measures that public health experts have been asking Washingtonians to take throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic are now “the only thing[s] standing between us and disaster,” Tacoma-Pierce County’s Dir. of Public Health Dr. Anthony Chen said in an urgent COVID-19 press briefing on Nov. 10. It’s because people haven’t been taking them that the state is now poised to suffer a sharp — potentially exponential — increase in deaths and hospitalizations.

“I know there are lots of tensions. Everyone’s tired. But this is not the time for argument,” Chen said. We’ve got to … put politics aside, put personalities aside. We’ve got to work on this together.”

Chen and a slew of other public health officials spoke during the briefing, each of them sharing grim statistics. At the core of their concern is the real potential for the state’s healthcare system to become overwhelmed, which would likely force the state to institute more aggressive approaches to slowing down the spread of the disease. These approaches appear to include another lockdown.

Continue reading “We Should Probably All Stop Socializing For the Next Several Weeks”: Health Officials Deliver Grim COVID Data, Warnings