November 12, 2020

Back to basics

The US is number one, we once again set a new record of more than 160,000 new cases and over 1000 deaths today, with an increase of 66,000 hospitalizations. Word is that hospitals in the midwest are running out of beds. Medical staff are not only exhausted but getting sick. The remedy from the governor of North Dakota is not to have people wear masks, but to let infected healthcare workers keep working.

This news is alarming, especially since the news close to home is no better. We have an increase in positive tests here in Seattle with our positive tests now up to 5.1%. I am seeing the effect closer to home. We are starting to double down at work- stricter mask wearing, more space between fellow workers, making sure the break room is not full. In any facility, most infections can be traced back to the break room, because people will congregate and eat without masks, usually for longer than 15 minutes, a bad combination.

People understandably have pandemic fatigue and are loosening up their previous good habits. Many outbreaks can be traced back to social gatherings, dinner parties, game nights and other casual meet ups. Will we ever be able to get back to our birthday parties and Christmas dinners. We need to return to our vigilance and focus again on safety for a few more months.

Our governor and his wife today appealed for people to really consider Thanksgiving plans. They recommend that if people want to be able to have Thanksgiving together, they should start their 14 day quarantine today, in order to be done in time for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving safety tips are helpful.

But what do we do about the inevitable exposures that people will have? A physician friend of mine posed that question to me today. What to do about employees who are exposed in those family gatherings? Returning to work can spread infections further. Back to basics with physical distancing, masking, and hand washing may not be enough.

Sadly, there is no word from our present President or head of the coronavirus task force, the Vice President, about this new record breaking surge. For the moment we are abandoned and seemingly on our own for the next 2 months. Fortunately, President-elect Biden has already named his task force and outlined his plan to help us contain the virus. The highly regarded journal Nature has already written an editorial of approval for that plan.

But at the moment we are back in limbo, awaiting a reprieve that doesn't seem to be coming. But we can keep up our safe practices. They work. Be vigilant. Don’t allow anyone in your house without a mask. Limit your time around others. Remember that your mask can protect you too.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and stay sensible.

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.

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/at-dinner-parties-and-game-nights-casual-american-life-is-fueling-the-coronavirus-surge/

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/11/12/world/covid-19-coronavirus-updates?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

https://time.com/5903992/indoor-socializing-coronavirus/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/north-dakota-lets-healthcare-workers-covid-stay-job-record-surge-n1247487

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/inslee-could-announce-new-covid-19-restrictions-early-next-week-as-washington-cases-surge/

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/06/well/covid-thanksgiving-safety-tips.html

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03207-2