March 4, 2020

Covid-19 update
Thanks to Tom Collicott for the image and 'Rik Smoody for the nudge. Yes, I would rather be talking about the "CROWna" virus, but here we are.

Today was fast moving and it has become clear that Covid-19 is here in King County or "endemic" as the epidemiologists say. We are told to assume a patient might have it if they have symptoms, especially if their flu test is negative, since we have an uptick in flu cases as well.

That is not meant to alarm, but to be realistic. It really is time to be aware of where you go- avoiding large gatherings especially. I am driving instead of taking the bus. Going to the store is probably OK. We can slow down transmission if we do common sense things that the health department suggests. Here is an article in The Seattle Times with good advice:

https://www.seattletimes.com/…/as-coronavirus-spreads-king…/

The good thing is that the transmission is low- it can be contained with hand washing especially, social distancing, people with symptoms wearing masks when they are around others. Household contacts have a higher risk than casual contacts.

I am proud of the work my health care organization is doing to help patients and keep staff safe. We are moving to have patients with symptoms who might need testing go to separate sites to avoid exposing patients who are in for the their other health care needs. This also protects staff. We are also have daily Webex town hall updates each evening to review what we've learned.

The biggest frustration is regarding availability of testing- gearing up but still not widely available, but within a few days UW will be testing as much as 4000 or more a day- but right now there is a 2-3 day backlog! There are still criteria for testing and healthy younger less ill adults and children are being told to stay home and not get tested (part of this is to avoid the spread of the virus). Understand that there is a bottleneck that will take a little time to resolve. 

But that is the other point about not being able to test, we really don't know how many are infected, what the true symptoms of mild cases are, and especially what the true mortality rate is. So far it is more than the 0.1% rate the flu has but probably less than the 3% rate I saw today.

This is all interesting and I am actually a little less worried now than a few days ago, despite the increase in deaths and dire predictions. We are learning more everyday and will be able to get more testing done. But we still need to be aware and prepare 
And remember- wash your hands!

Image may contain: bird, possible text that says 'Corvid. 19'