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Loosen, test, loosen — How Seattle can emerge from COVID-19 restrictions

(Image: sea turtle via Flickr)

The official word: Seattle is “at least a month” from being able to begin lifting any of the restrictions currently in place across the state to slow the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Reports of a national plan to push aggressively to “reopen America” are being countered by local caution calling for more elements need to be in place before any relaxation of restrictions including increased testing, contact tracing, and hospitals fully prepared for a possible second outbreak. California, Oregon, and Washington have formed a three-state pact to coordinate the coming transition.

King County and Seattle officials are shaping expectations around a slow, week by week loosen-test-loosen approach as the region heads into summer. Washington’s current restrictions have been ordered by Gov. Jay Inslee though May 4th but are expected to be extended.

“The virus isn’t going anywhere,” King County Public Health’s Dr. Jeff Duchin told KUOW. “The vast majority of us are still susceptible. If we resume to have the type of contact we had prior to social distancing, this epidemic will rebound big time and we’ll see lots of cases and perhaps a peak that was even larger than what we’ve already experienced.”

“It’s not realistic to expect a change in policy in at least a month,” Duchin told media Tuesday.

But there is progress toward getting the needed infrastructure and processes in place. UW Medicine, for example, announced this week it will begin testing all patients for COVID-19 at its facilities including Harborview.

Through Monday, King County has now recorded more than 300 deaths in the outbreak. Currently, around 7 people with COVID-19 die here every day — a number that continues to drop. Across Capitol Hill and the Central District, there have been five reported deaths since the start of the pandemic — and none in nearly two weeks, according to Public Health’s reporting. After work by the county to identify more victims of the outbreak, those numbers will increase and some deaths surely related to the virus will never be recorded.

We’ve added updated graphs showing the latest totals through Tuesday.

In King County, while the rates of new positive cases and deaths have slowed, officials say they would like to see a lower transmission rate in addition to the call for increased testing and contact tracing before social restrictions are lifted.

A new study (embedded above) from Bellevue’s Institute for Disease Modelling shows that the restrictions have continued to work to slow the spread and show results that have “exceeded the short-term forecast in our previous report and reflects further reductions in COVID-19 transmission.”

As is usual during the COVID-19 crisi, the optimism is tempered by warnings. “Our collective efforts to limit physical interaction across society have stabilized the rate of spread of COVID-19,” the study concludes, “but the situation remains precarious with the effective reproductive number near and possibly varying above and below one. Continued adherence to physical distancing policies remains necessary to further reduce transmission; otherwise, rebound transmission is likely to occur.”

Get ready for a summer — and beyond — of loosen, test, and, hopefully, loosen some more.


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33 Comments
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skeptic
skeptic
1 year ago

People aren’t going to stand for it. It’s already started. Look at Michigan. Look at the parks in Seattle.

Politicians made a big bet that this would be massive pandemic, and they can’t change course now. If they do, they’ll be blamed for the massive economic damage wrought.

But everything to date suggests they are wrong. We’re at 28K deaths. Less than a typical flu season. And deaths are concentrated among the 80+, exactly those who die during flu seasons. Look at the efforts in NYC to re-classify every death possible to COVID. That seems not scientific – more like an effort to justify the extreme steps taken.

Disease and fear is the ultimate tool to get people to give up their freedom. Just make sure you keep enough courage to ask whether you are being protected or conned. Because if there is one universal truth, it’s that politicians aren’t looking out for you – they are looking out for themselves.

David
David
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

Yes, look at Michigan indeed.

A bunch of geniuses blocking the entrance and exit at Sparrow Hospital. What truly revolting act of selfishness.

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

Ummm Covid has already killed around 1/2 as many people as a typical full year of flu would have in around 2 months *with* social distancing in place in most areas. Complain all you like, but if people decide that they’ve had enough and start doing as they please, it will get ugly. More people will die in some counties than die in the nation in a typical flu season. Not to mention, if we simply let it run rampant, people who may have survived will die because of lack of people, supplies and facilities to treat them.

None of this is serving politicians – they are having to make hard choices that many people don’t like and may never understand.

skeptic
skeptic
1 year ago
Reply to  CD Neighbor

Once the panic is past, the intellectuals among us will do the math. How many incremental life years did we save? What did it cost? The quarantine will have saved, on average, perhaps a 75 year old life The economic collapse and quarantine will have cost, on average, a 45 year life (suicides, mental health problems, domestic abuse, substance abuse, etc). The cost will be trillions. Divided by incremental life years lost, I’d guess we’ll end up over $10 million per incremental life year. The standard in developed nations is $100-200K/year. I will wager anyone – when we are done with this – the consensus will be a massive over reaction and excessive price paid.

Richard
Richard
1 year ago
Reply to  CD Neighbor

Yeah I’m going to define “intellectuals” as people with relevant, extensive education and experience in healthcare and epidemiology. And all those people are the ones whose emphatic call to social distancing you’re rejecting.

Denial of the overwhelming calls from those with the qualifications actually give them credibility is NOT intellectual skepticism, it’s just ornery people willing to risk other peoples’ lives.

Eli
Eli
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

I don’t agree with most of the comment, but cities like Oakland, CA are closing down large swaths of public streets so that people can actually go outside and socially distance.

If other cities’ pilots go well, this would be a wise thing for the City of Seattle to adopt and provide a middle ground to uphold both livability and public health, for the people who are ready to say “screw this” and go enjoy the weather.

(which include many of my not-selfish coworkers — and increasingly myself, I’m afraid.)

MarciaX
MarciaX
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

People are dying without even being tested. The real covid death rate is almost certainly higher than the official number, not lower.

shirley
shirley
1 year ago
Reply to  MarciaX

I not sure that’s true. My great aunt died yesterday in NY. She was 92. She had been in a nursing home for years. In recent weeks she had “difficulty swallowing”. Not a typical COVID symptom, but that is how her death is being classified. Without any test. COVID is the default now. Maybe she just died from, you know, being 92…

RWK
RWK
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

@skeptic: Do you think Dr. Fauci, a widely respected and experienced public health expert, is “conning” (your word) the American public? I’d put my trust in him over some selfish person like you any day of the week.

Ed Stephens
Ed Stephens
1 year ago
Reply to  RWK

Dr. Fauci trustworthy? That’s iffy at best. The Gates Foundation has $100 Million in funding to his company Moderna to develop vaccines and is on the leadership council for a collaboration on the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ campaign. Huge conflicts of interest considering he downplayed the virus, the effectiveness of the most successful treatment using Hydroxychloroquine, the need for travel bans, the list goes on.

Why we’re not beginning to open up is irrational and will only exacerbate the problem with more people losing jobs, having to get on welfare, food stamps, lose their homes, etc. Since the Democrats had no problem raising taxes out of sight when the state had a huge surplus just shows that they don’t care about the pain and damage they inflict upon the general public and the virus only increases their power to control the people. They’re totalitarian wannabes. Is that what you want?

Richard
Richard
1 year ago
Reply to  RWK

“…he downplayed the virus…” Except that the rest of us have eyes and ears, so just straight up saying something untrue doesn’t really gain you much. I’m not going to claim every word he’s ever said about this pandemic is true (basically everyone undershot the impact at first; he and others with actual qualifications quickly scaled their evaluations up while trump and people like you kept absurdly holding to the wrong info)… but claiming he – the most vocal voice in the entire administration calling for taking these measures – is “playing it down”? Yeah good luck selling that BS.

“(downplayed)… the most successful treatment using Hydroxychloroquine”
Yeah, the one that has sudden cardiac arrest as a known side effect and no proven track record of making a difference in this pandemic. No reason to be cautious about that, nosiree!

Crapping on Fauci is such an unsupportable, nonsensical position. Knowing basically only one group of people forwards this absurd perspective, it exposes the cult of personality that *really* drives your opinion, speaking of untrustworthy and conflicts of interest.

“Is that what you want?” I want a society to make decisions NOT driven by self-important contrarians more concerned about their 401k than 10%+ of my parents’ generation dying.

practicalguy
practicalguy
1 year ago
Reply to  RWK

Dr. Fauci is certainly a smart guy. But it’s also pretty clear he loves being in the limelight. After 40 years, people cares what he thinks. If you are a infectious disease person, a pandemic is your Superbowl. How many of these folks went their entire careers without getting a shot Well, pretty much everyone since 1918.

You can see it in his face – he loves opining on whether people will shake hands or when we can have professional sports again. So, don’t discount everything he says but recognize that when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail, and everyone has an agenda and self-promotion is usually #1 on that agenda.

Shawn
Shawn
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

I would love to understand your theory of a motive that our government, here in WA, would have to induce tremendous job loss and extreme unhappiness among its citizens. Is it going to help any current WA government official making such decisions in their reelection efforts? The Untied States is the richest country in the world and if its national leaders wanted to stem job loss and protect those that have been laid off or furloughed from economic collapse, it could.

MarciaX
MarciaX
1 year ago
Reply to  Shawn

I know, right? You don’t like having your freedom curtailed? News flash: nobody does. Don’t you really think Inslee et al. would love nothing better than to be out campaigning, speaking to crowds, pressing the flesh? He’s not enjoying this one bit more than the Gadsden flag wavers are, but he believes in sound science and knows this is necessary if we don’t want to endure an even longer lockdown (and many thousands more fatalities) later on. Thank God we in Seattle and Washington have leadership who gets this. Sadly, not all states are so lucky.

Jen Moon
Jen Moon
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

I would probably at least continue reading your posts IF you’d done even the base amount of research.

Hydroxychloroquine is not a treatment, nor a cure. People died from it and not the virus in the first study.

20% of the deaths were people over 80; closer to 80% in NYC. This is not an old person disease; it’s a disease of those with underlying complications. 86% of those who have died in NY had at least one complication.

As for Fauci, he loves the limelight?! I’m pretty sure he’s darting in there to counteract his boss’ ruminations on what might work as a cure or whatever else comes out of his mouth.

And what’s the conflict of interest in making vaccines? Or getting money from the Gates Foundation? Fauci’s other job is to work for the President. He didn’t do any of the things listed and should be fine.

(I’m so tired of the Gates conspiracy…)

LeonT
LeonT
1 year ago

the intellectuals among us will do the math.

I preferred it in the original German.

rover97
rover97
1 year ago

All I have to say is that I’m looking forward to a Seattle with 1/2 as many people and twice as many dogs. #dogsareimmune #offleasheverything

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
1 year ago
Reply to  rover97

It would really suck to be among that 1/2 that wasn’t around to see it.

MarciaX
MarciaX
1 year ago
Reply to  rover97

If you’re a dog lover I don’t think you’d like it. Packs of starving dogs roaming everywhere. It wouldn’t be pretty.

David
David
1 year ago

“skeptic”, please get back to me when you’re 75 yo about how important your “math” is…

It sounds like you don’t really give a shit about protecting those who aren’t young, healthy, and not in a high risk group (even though the young, healthy, and low risk still succumb to this virus).

Exactly how much ($$$) is a human life worth?

Please GTFO of here and carry on with your rants and raves about how climate change isn’t real.

Ed Stephens
Ed Stephens
1 year ago
Reply to  David

Wow such an intelligent retort…rant that makes no sense. Skeptic is right to question the continuation of the extreme measures when more people die of the flu annually. Furthermore, the cause and effects of putting people out of work, losing their businesses, homes, etc. also damages not only them economically but can lead to depression, increase in drug use, suicides, etc. Since you claim to ‘care’ about lives; what about theirs? We lose more people annually to flu, drug overdoses, auto accidents, suicides. This is not a situation that the response is becomes more deadly than the cause and that’s where we are right now; we’ve got to begin opening this state and getting people back to work. It’s not a matter of putting the pedal to the metal but one where we begin to take off the brakes.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed Stephens

“…when more people die of the flu annually….”

So you’re comparing *annual* flu deaths with about 2-3 months of Covid-19 deaths, *so far* ?
Please don’t quit your day job.

skeptic
skeptic
1 year ago
Reply to  David

1) You’re right. I don’t give a shit. You’ve lived a good long life. Longer than I’ll likely live. Want to live longer- quarantine yourself. Don’t make your problem my problem.

2) That’s what all the old folks say. “Young people are dying too” Except it’s just not true. I mean, statistically. You can find a few, but leaving aside pre-existing conditions I believe it’s something like 0.03% of those infected. Far more young people die in car crashes. I understand you’re scared, but your scare tactics don’t work on me.

3) I’m sorry I put a value on human life. But we as a society have to do that. Otherwise we could not function. Look it up on Wikipedia. You may think your life has infinite value, but that’s only to you. Not to the rest of us. Grow up.

3) I very much believe in Climate Change. And funny, climate change only because a problem when people figured out vaccines. So maybe this is just Mother Natures way to telling us there are way too many people on Earth.

Jen Moon
Jen Moon
1 year ago
Reply to  skeptic

2) I posted above that your percentages were off…but you’re still quoting incorrect numbers. /smh

Pudding Tame
Pudding Tame
1 year ago

The actual # of infected people is still to be determined. The current rate of mortality is determined based on # of confirmed cases vs. deaths. Confirmed cases are artificially low due to lack of testing. Only those severely affected are getting tested.
Estimates say 85% of cases are mild and include 20% completely asymptomatic individuals. Only 5% are severe and require hospitalization, and that includes elderly and medically compromised individuals that make up over 75% of those severely affected. The mortality rate is currently only @ 1% in the USA even among those tested positive who are most severely affected with the artificially low undercounted actual infected rate. If estimates included the total suspected # of cases, that mortality would drop to @ 0.15%, close to what the flu is.
Social distancing was put into effect after it had already spread into all 50 states. It was to slow the spread, not stop it. The economic toll is not worth the cost. Those people not complaining are those that are being paid to stay home. What about the rest of people out of work out who own businesses ruined by the shutdown?
The government can’t bail out everyone.

David
David
1 year ago
Reply to  Pudding Tame

Talk to me when you’re the one being intubated in the ICU.

Ethan Melville
Ethan Melville
1 year ago

It kind of feels like once again the younger generations are getting the shaft so the older generations can live a little longer. Older folks can stay at home and be perfectly happy, they’re already retired with savings and social security and no mortgage. Most of my generation is barely making ends meet and lack any substantial safety net that most developed nations offer, so this is a death sentence to their financial health.

Mary Lou Retton
Mary Lou Retton
1 year ago

Shorts / mask / jacket = 6

John Feit
John Feit
1 year ago

Nice concise report – thanks, Justin.

Mimi
Mimi
1 year ago

I think there is a Russian troll on here guys. Not even kidding. This pandemic is a perfect opportunity for them to continue to sow seeds of division in our country. They probably had a hand in all the recent protests too.

Momo
Momo
1 year ago
Reply to  Mimi

Ok sure alex.

RWK
RWK
1 year ago

Off-topic comment: Can anyone look at that photo, and continue to condone unfettered graffiti vandalism and postering? What a trashy scene!