So much has transpired nationally and locally since my last weekly COVID update. New York City’s numbers are so high that schools have once again closed, and students have returned to virtual instruction. Also, the Seattle Times is reporting that, “Another 2,132 coronavirus cases and 16 deaths have been confirmed in Washington, bringing the total number of diagnoses to 139,543, including 2,619 deaths, according to the state Department of Health. At least 9,653 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.” Further, in our region, hospitalizations have risen by 50% leading our recently stretched hospital systems to activate their emergency response.
Here in Northshore, we will maintain our Stage 2 Learning Model status. As a reminder, we must consider many factors in addition to the infection rate. One example is efficient contact tracing. According to news reports this evening, Seattle and King County Health Officer Jeffrey Duchin said the contact tracing and outbreak investigation system is overloaded. This is the system that helps officials understand who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. He added that going forward, public health officials intend to prioritize contact tracing for people who are at higher risk of Covid-19 complications and concentrate resources on congregate settings with high-risk populations. In schools with hundreds of students and staff, contract tracing in the case of an outbreak is critical for safe functioning.
The numbers you see on the graph below indicate the COVID-19 positive rate per 100K population in prior two weeks in King and Snohomish Counties. (The data are continually collected. Based on past counts, final numbers for these dates are likely to be higher.)
- November 10 – 262.5
- November 15 – 323.8
- November 16 – 320.7
- November 10 – 252.6
- November 15 – 302.2
- November 16 – 301.8
Because the infection rate is continuing to trend in a dangerous direction and next Friday is part of a holiday weekend, it seems appropriate to resume my weekly updates on Friday, December 4.
As we are planning for this holiday which is often filled with large gatherings of family and friends, I want to share important information from local health officials as quoted in news reports just hours ago. Seattle and King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin warned, “If people travel or gather for Thanksgiving celebrations or other get-togethers, we could see an explosion in Covid-19 causing human suffering unlike anything we've experienced in modern times." Snohomish County is asking us to think twice this year, “High hospitalization numbers, increasing outbreaks in long-term care facilities, and a nursing shortage are further compounding an already strained healthcare system. For these reasons and more, the Health District is again reminding Snohomish County to Give Thanks, Not COVID.”
Having said all this, I also want to remind us that there is promising news of possible vaccines on the horizon so we just need to stay disciplined a bit longer; together all things are possible. We are Northshore…
Wishing you and yours all the best this coming holiday week,
Michelle Reid, Ed.D.