March 12, 2020

flatten the curve

Jamie and thought it would be a good idea to get gas and stock up on frozen veggies, just in case, so we hopped in the van and headed to Costco at 9:30 this morning. The best part about schools being closed and people working from home, is that the traffic was so light, we got there in 15 minutes. And so did everyone else. So we got gas and headed back to a quieter store to get our goods. Costco and Amazon are the two businesses that I am not worried about right now.

I had the day off but was texted and emailed multiple times as things are shifting gear. Double the number of patients in the Acute Respiratory Clinics, two more positive tests in people in their 70’s, both doing OK. Requests for providers to get training on the protocols and work in the acute clinics, since our numbers in clinic are dropping and the need for testing and evaluating people for COVID is surging.

And worries about an older friend who is ill, thankful it is confirmed flu and not coronavirus. A mother connecting me with her college age daughter here in Seattle, who was afraid she and her girlfriend have COVID19 and what should they do since neither really has a primary provider. Plus more questions and concerns from patients and staff.

We are still at the bottom of the graph but it is starting to surge upward. Here is why flattening the curve can still help:

One link below is how the Snowpocalypse 2019, which closed Seattle schools for at least 5 days, kept people home from work also, made a huge dent in slowing down the influenza outbreak last year by at least 9%.

The other is data in a Seattle Times article about without social distancing there could be 400 deaths and 25,000 infections is King County and Snohomish Counties alone by April 7. But if we reduce the transmission rate by 25% the numbers drop to only 9700 infections and 160 deaths. That is huge! And if we were to reduce by 75%, only 2000 cases and 30 deaths.

We have work to do and our state and local governments are helping us with their mandates. I loved the answer Governor Inslee gave when asked what the consequences are if someone broke the mandates that have been declared. “The penalty is that they might be killing their granddad if they don’t do it”. This is so important to understand and why it is better not to panic but to follow the guidelines. We and you can make a difference!

And that brings me to Mister Rogers and his quote about when things are scary, look for the helpers. And I add to that: Become one of the helpers, it will make you feel better and want to help again. It is true. We need you.

Oh and wash your hands, really. Read why it works below.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

*Mr. Rogers: