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COVID-19 updates: the ’10 new cases per 100,000 residents’ threshold, Seattle anti-Asian hate assaults, signs of Capitol Hill normalcy Vita edition

Caffe Vita is back (Image: Caffe Vita via Instagram)

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and response around the Seattle region, Capitol Hill, and the Central District. See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

  • June 1 and Phase 2: Eager for a June move to Phase 2? To meet the “10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period” threshold set by the state of Washington for counties applying for early reopening, King County would have to keep its count ar around 224 new coronavirus cases in the 14 days leading up to June 1. Halfway through the two-week period, King County has already tallied 350 coronavirus cases. We’ll record about three times the threshold come June. The Seattle Times reports on the “stubbornly high rates of infection” and “uneven and local nature of the statewide epidemic” in a Memorial Day Weekend report on more counties considering the next phase of reopening. That case count threshold developed from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines might not hold, however. “The criterion recently used to allow additional counties to apply for a variance … will not necessarily be the criterion used to lift the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order,” Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said in a statement reported by the Times. “We are actively discussing what the criterion might be.” Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest “stay home” order expires June 1st.
  • The next phase: Phase 2 will bring loosened restrictions including the reopening of restaurants for sit-down service at 50% capacity, the return of hair and beauty services, and “limited” non-essential travel. You can find our overview of Washington’s reopening phases here.
  • Latest case totals: The rate of cases and reported COVID-19 deaths is still dropping in King County (reported here) but it continues to be a slow descent. We recorded 18 coronavirus deaths last week — in April, King County had 50 to 60 deaths every seven days — but new deaths and new cases continue to add up. With King County’s stubborn trends mirrored in Pierce and Snohomish Counties, Washington as a whole continues on a similar pace. It has now recorded 1,070 deaths and more than 20,000 confirmed cases. You can see state reports here.
  • Yakima County hot spot: Another Washington virus hotspot is not one of the state’s most populous areas. But Yakima County’s outbreak might be the most concerning — the county has recorded 28 new infections per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks and its rate might actually be climbing. Agricultural workers are particularly hard hit and there is rising labor strife in the area’s packing warehouses. CHS reported here on the higher COVID-1 risks being faced by communities of color driven in part by “essential industries, like service and labor.
  • Testing: In addition to new cases, availability of testing and medical resources will also be deciding factors in moving all of the state and King County to Phase 2 reopening status. Testing across Washington reached a daily 7,000 mark last week. Gov. Jay Inslee had set a goal of more than 20,000 daily tests during the height of the crisis. King County peaked last week with around 2,200 people tested.
  • Hospitalizations: The state is also making reporting public that shows the current count of “COVID-like illness hospitalizations.” The CLI tallies “are not exact counts of people hospitalized with a COVID diagnosis,” the state report reads. “Since these data do not rely on a diagnosis, they provide near-real time trends of the outbreak.”
  • Anti-Asian hate incidents: Seattle Police are looking for the suspect involved in three separate attacks on Asian people over the weekend in Ballard. Meanwhile, another bias attack last week in downtown Seattle was caught on video. Anyone with information about the incidents can contact SPD’s bias-crime unit at (206) 233-5000
  • Unemployment delays: A wave of fraud may slow the already patience-testing unemployment process:

    ESD is responding by placing a brief, 1-2 day hold on all benefit payments to validate their authenticity. Additionally, the department is expanding its fraud investigation team and is requiring authentication from customers filing claims.

    Washington is at the center of a wave of fraudulent claims that has also may have targeted the unemployment systems in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming.

  • UW Medicine furloughs: A shocking economic component of the crisis is the financial repercussions playing out in the healthcare industry. UW Medicine is the latest large employer to join a wave of furloughs with news that 4,000 union workers will be temporarily out of work for “one to eight weeks.” “The healthcare-system says the financial situation is the result of lost revenue at clinics due to the cancellation of elective and non-urgent procedures and surgeries as well as the high cost of treating COVID-19 patients which includes testing and personal protective equipment,” KOMO reports.
  • Seattle City Hall launches new event site: The city continues to invest in new online efforts. Last week, it channeled its inner Amazon and launched a face mask marketplace. Now it is adding an event and community project to its resources. Seattle Together is designed to be “a curated hub that features local artistic content, mental health breaks, physical activities, and helpful resources designed to provide respite and hope for our community.” You can check it out at seattletogether.org.
  • Vita E Pike got some new paint during its downtime (Image: Caffe Vita via Instagram)

    Shop from home: Speaking of websites, the supportcapitolhill.com effort CHS wrote about in April has continued to grow. Check out the directory of shops and retailers from Chophouse Row, Pike/Pine, Broadway 15th and 19th Ave, and more.

  • Signs of normalcy — Vita edition: Caffe Vita is back in business. After a soft launch last week, Memorial Day marked the start of the E Pike cafe returning in the “to go” phase of Capitol Hill’s recovery with daily 8 AM to 2 PM hours. Other Vitas are also back in motion — hours vary by location.
  • Counting the days: Seattle residents have now been under COVID-19 restrictions for 76 days.

CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE+ Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington puts ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks + Apr. 2 Washington restrictions extended + Apr. 6 Schools closed for rest of year + Apr. 8 Can’t relax those social restrictions yet but, exhale, Seattle — COVID-19 model says you’ve made it through this outbreak’s peak + Apr. 27 Washington eases restrictions on some outdoor activities but you’ll still need to give six feet on the trail + May 1 Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel


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34 thoughts on “COVID-19 updates: the ’10 new cases per 100,000 residents’ threshold, Seattle anti-Asian hate assaults, signs of Capitol Hill normalcy Vita edition

  1. Today marks 63 days since Governor Inslee’s lockdown order started. That two full months of lockdown are insufficient to bring the coronavirus under control demonstrates that lockdown is simply not effective.

    Except at putting one out of three Washingtonians out of work. It’s been great at destroying livelihoods.

    • This doesn’t make any sense at all, of course the lockdown has been effective. Remember at the start of this when we were vying for a navy ship for increased hospital capacity? The emergency field hospitals we have set up and removed? Remember when Italy’s health care system was completely overwhelmed? Getting into a similar situation was a real possibility for us.

      The original goal of the lockdown was to prevent exponential spread of the virus, and we have succeeded at that.

      • What makes you think lockdown had any effect on reducing hospitalizations? As noted in the article above, Seattle Times reports that there still exist “stubbornly high rates of infection.”

        If after two full months of lockdown we still see stubbornly high rates of infection, that would suggest lockdown is an ineffective mitigation strategy.

      • I think undeniably the lockdown has worked at limiting the spread of infection – the question for me is could we have/can we now take less drastic measures and keep infections to a manageable level?

        After all yes – we did construct a huge field hospital, we did think we needed a medical ship – those assumptions were wrong given our behaviors. Was there a middle ground we could’ve taken or that we can relax to now that’ll still be sustainable?

        I find myself somewhat frustrated with the hospitalization data. How close did we get to being overwhelmed? How close are we now?

        I’m not a public health official, but do we really have the right metrics to assess our risk for reopening? It seems like we have a pretty blunt metric to assess the number of cases, but is that a fair metric given the hospital capacity we do or do not have, along with the severity of cases? Even if we don’t have all the tests that we’ve decided we’ve needed – we ARE testing more and expanding who is eligible – that means more mild cases (that wouldn’t be destined for hospital beds) are being discovered now than a couple of months ago.

        The percentage found positive is also dropping – so while the raw numbers of new cases is flat, we are finding less positives for the number of tests being done.

      • Or the exponential spread of the virus just stopped because cold season ended and late march and april were just lagging data behind in timely processing

        If he had done lockdown in January I think your statement would hold more truth, but we locked down at the very end

    • Washington State is doing well, far better than the rest of the US, excluding NY, whose current trend lines look now even better than ours. In fact, the trend looks very much like the one in Germany. Also, there is no “stubbornly high rate of infection.” The case numbers are falling, slowly though but they are falling. In March, the Imperial College in London calculated that without epidemic suppression, the US would have seen 1 million deaths. We have only a tenth of that right now because some states, notably NY, took drastic measures. Bob, you are partially right that a complete lockdown is not always necessary for epidemic suppression. But this is mostly true for small culturally homogeneous societies in sparsely populated places. Which we are not.

      Looking at the Swedish example, where no lockdown was in place, businesses still suffered almost as much as in neighboring countries. Because people were afraid and reduced life to a minimum. And yet, per capita, their death toll is higher than that of the US!

      • Higher, but not by much; demographics (age) may play a role; summer comes later in Sweden. Japan didn’t lock down but is doing better than we are.

        I wish the partisan shrills would just STFU and explain the uncertainties and pros and cons of various decisions made. The bottom line is we’re working from assumptions (reasonable assumptions). We may be right; we may be wrong.

  2. You forgot that the unemployment computer is now trying to reclaim the PUA money it paid out since it went rogue a week back. Take a look at the WA unemployment Facebook page comments for the scale of the problem. Lots of people in utter despair while the state happily pays claims to Nigerians….

  3. Anyone who tests positive for the antibody counts toward the 10 per 100,000? That doesn’t sound useful.

    It’s a reasonable working assumption, but the idea that lockdown reduces infections and deaths is an assumption and needs to be constantly reassessed. The data from countries worldwide and US municipalities to date looks pretty uncertain to me.

  4. This metric is so clearly arbitrary and without any analytic merit. How did they pick 10 cases in 100K? What’s the cost/benefit analysis demonstrating this is where the costs of COVID start to exceed the costs of the shutdown (deferred medical care, heath and welfare consequences of unemployment/poverty, etc).

    In WA in 2018, 7.28 per 100K died in traffic accidents. We don’t shutdown for that. 10 COVID cases over 2 weeks equals perhaps 2.6 deaths per year (at a very high 1% mortality, that’s 0.1/2 weeks * 26).

    How much do we spend on our gov’t and public health officials? And they are just making #*&^ up. There is no analysis. They just drop the word “data” and too many of us think “oh, it must be scientific”.

    Data is not insight. Just because you can count something, or divide one number by another, doesn’t mean it actually means anything.

      • Covid follows an s curve not an exponential curve. Everyone just loves to call it an exponential curve because we were in the exponential stage. Plus it helps to make things scarier…for better or for worse…

    • Yeah, I mean, I want to make sure the infections are low enough that we can monitor spread and I want to make sure we have all the necessary tools in place to test and trace, and to be prepared to surge up…but is 10 cases out of 10,000 a fair metric? I don’t know.

      How *are* our hospitals doing? How *were* they doing at the peak?

      To me it’s a bit disingenous to rely on the number of cases – if we test more people and expand who is eligible – we will find more cases that we otherwise would’ve missed when we had to ration tests more. We’ve scaled up our testing (arguably not enough but still, we ARE testing more people), and in raw numbers the number of cases are flat. But the percentage of positive cases is dropping, and arguably, we are now no longer constrained to just the most serious cases.

      The number of positive cases isn’t necessarily a direct line to project how many more people we anticipate needing serious care.

      Living like this isn’t sustainable long term, we will need to figure out a way to give more responsibility to individuals to decide what risks they are/are not okay taking. I don’t know if we’re there yet…but…we’re going to have to figure it out if we don’t meet that magic threshold.

      • I’m in Clark County, where an outbreak just happened at a rate of about 23 per 10,000 (the plant that caused this actually caused it–the county found numerous safety violations), and the health department STILL met the criteria. Moved in to quarantine, test, quarantine more, and keep the hospital virtually unaffected, and we’re STILL closed, and now are closed indefinitely. The goal never was about making sure hospitals don’t get overrun. If that was the case, then Clark County has done that (and the hospital ere was never overrun at the worst of it), and has shown that the infection rate can be higher than 1 in 10,000 (saying 10 in 100,000 sounds better, but that’s 1 in 10,000) and still be contained within 24 hours.

        I think that extremely strict and absurdly low number is thanks to Inslee and Trump being in a p*ssing match. Trump said to open everything right away several weeks ago, and since he and Inslee are on bad terms, it’s like Inslee decided to go the exact opposite and drag it out as long as possible, and that 10 number was probably the smallest he could get away with. Trump clearly didn’t care about anyone in the country when he had PPE confiscated from hospitals, forcing some to hide their stash and have guards protect it, and Inslee clearly doesn’t care about is now. When that eviction freeze ends, there’s going to be an avalanche of newly-homeless. Then the real pain will start, and Inslee will have a lot of responsibility. I used to like the guy, and now I want him out of office.

  5. Seems like the applicable critieria for King County is not 10 cases/100,000 over 14 days. Page 29 of the document provides the following definitions:

    Assessing criteria for reduction in number of cases: To pass this criterion, a locality must either 1) have
    experienced 14 days of decreasing cases or 2) be in a low-incidence plateau. A locality that has a new
    outbreak or rebound cannot advance to the next phase unless they see another 14 days of decline.
    • Defining 14 days of decreasing cases: To assess a downward trajectory, CDC uses a 3-day rolling
    average and applies a spline curve (described above). A period of 14 days of declining cases occurs
    when fewer cases are reported at the end of the 14 days compared with the number at the beginning
    of the period, using the 3-day rolling average fitted with the spline curve to define the number of cases.
    In addition, a “grace period” of 5 days may be applied during a downward trajectory, during which
    cases may increase for no more than 5 consecutive days. (If 5 days of consecutive increase occur, then
    the jurisdiction has met the criteria for rebound and is no longer in a downward trajectory.) Statistical
    coding used by CDC (using the R package) can be shared with state and local jurisdictions upon request.
    • Defining a low incidence plateau
    • A low-incidence plateau is defined as a very low number of new cases reported (below
    10 cases per 100,000 population over 2 weeks) with only minimal change in daily cases.
    • To qualify for this category, a locality must previously have seen elevated case counts.

    • Does your second to last bullet not say 10 cases per 100000 over two weeks?

      Regardless…it’s pretty clear to me if the media is saying we may not make June 1st for phase 2, that means we’re not going into phase 2 June 1st.

      All the other times we’ve pushed back the restrictions, the messaging coming from the media and even Inslee all forewarned us it was coming.

      • Ah I see it’s declining rates OR plateau. Well, we haven’t seen a two week decline in new cases.

        We *have* seen a decline in the percent positive…buuuuuuttttt again, if we’re hearing that “maybe” counties like King County aren’t ready to be moving on to phase 2 June 1st, we’re not moving on to Phase 2 June 1st.

    • The “data” the politicians are looking at, really, are not COVID stats. It’s public opinion. Right now public opinion favors extended lockdown in WA, especially in areas like King County where a significant number of workers have white collar jobs that haven’t been as impacted. People can afford to be risk averse. Compare this to other parts of the country without this luxury. They are willing to take greater risk, because the downside risk of the status quo is so much greater. And their politicians respond to their situation.

      The moment enough folks here start to feel like the public policy reaction, not the pandemic, is causing more pain, expect the policy (and associated metrics) to change regardless of the “science”. There is no science behind what’s being done – it’s politics. Just as it always is. For some reason people believe the politicians this time. Probably because they are scared. But a healthy level of skepticism will eventually return.

  6. The lockdown just delays the inevitable. Unless we lock down until herd immunity or a vaccine, it’ll just come roaring back when we reopen since we can’t close our boarders and prevent domestic movement.

    Our government has failed us on this, at every level. What a disaster.

  7. Why you don’t count how many people are recovered? In other countries it is very important sign, when recovered are more than new infected, here no even stat. for that!?

    • Yes we must count the active cases only not total count. In the way we have now the data is wrong, means someone when infected either died or stay infected forever….

      • Yeah as long as warren is not 80 years old living in a nursing home with underlying health conditions I think he should be fine.

    • Unless he happens to be a perfectly healthy and fit person like a broadway star who ends up on a ventilator with an amputation or ends up having a stroke, that may not even be recognized as COVID… 9 or 90, even though the odds might vary a bit, you are still playing the odds if you think you can get this and you are guaranteed to be perfectly OK… it’s not a cold and has the potential to make you very sick. It’s just magical thinking to believe it can’t possibly happen to you.

      • Possibly vs likely are two very different things that often get confused when preconditioned hysteria is present. If u applied your criteria to everything else people die to we would never open up again. Lockdown was to test waters and make sure our health system didn’t get overrun. Now that we know we are not going to get overrun (at the cost of 660 million for the field hospitals that were 99% not used I hope we can assume covid is not the endless exponential plauge that some geniuses decided it would be

  8. Guys with this approach you will never move to phase 2, not sure who created the approach but it is quite wrong and misleading from the science point of view

    • Nah I bet we will be phase 2 in two weeks if not for the seasonal die off of infections then from the discontent and pressure because of more and more counties opening before us

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