Friday, March 6, 11 a.m.

March 6, 2020

Good morning everyone. The major official announcement is that as of this coming Monday, March 9, all in-person classes and events are cancelled for the remainder of the quarter. The university updates can be found here. Please use online alternatives to deliver the final week of courses and final exams wherever possible; the web site about instructional continuity and online options for coursework is here.

     The values of Cura Personalis/Care for the Person (for the whole person and all persons in the community: students, staff and faculty) and Academic Excellence will be the foundation of the college’s approach to following any guidelines laid out by the university, continuing to balance flexibility and continuity along the way.

    Two quick points on the whole person issue: First, please consider that people may be in high-risk categories that are not apparent to you, resulting in different personal decisions than you are making or that you expect from them. Second, there are cultural differences in hygiene behaviors; do not presume, for example ,that someone wearing a mask is ill; interrupt stigma conversations with accurate information.

     We do not yet have a fuller update about university guidelines for offices and staffing during this period; I expect that information to come out later today. I remind you to stay home if you are sick, consider how the risk factors apply to you and those you supervise, and use the social distancing guidelines provided by King County to the extent possible (six feet distance, no meetings of more than 10 people and more here) as we move forward. Technology is a great tool for us right now and we are working on some college policies specifically around outward-facing administrative positions (e.g., administrative assistant positions that handle walk-in traffic for departments). We plan to have those policies clarified before Monday morning, within the university guidelines. Also, remember that all staff and faculty now have Zoom Pro licenses that make group meetings online MUCH easier, more info is here. Also, all staff and faculty can log in and access Outlook, Calendar and ALL Microsoft Office products over the internet here. Once you are in a particular program (Outlook, Word, or whatever) click the “tic tac toe” box that looks like this to get to everything else:

    In the midst of social distancing, I have a non-work related “homework assignment”. Stay connected to each other, call or email at least one friend or colleague just to chat, or have a small get-together as your situation allows. Social contact is important even as we have to prioritize increased physical distance.

Finally, here is Dr. Myint’s post from today. He starts by reflecting on policy and resources at a broad level and refreshes everyone on basic tips (which have bolded). There are also two links to interesting articles, one on public health financing and another examining why Seattle’s approach is necessarily different from the approach used in the Wuhan region of China.

One of the root causes of our limitations in 2020 to address public health concerns the way we would like is the lack of funding nationally regionally and locally over time. An adequate response builds on a foundation of preparation, appropriate equipment as well as building the skills to address the public's pre-outbreak education (such as vaccination), address local outbreaks like hepatitis A and Measles here in WA state without having to fully deploy precious resources that work on planning for pandemics like this one.

King County and Pierce Counties are actually better prepared than most areas having a very engaged coalition called the Northwest healthcare response network in place ( which I have had the pleasure to serve on the clinical committee. That being said, we are a group of professionals and organizations operating with very limited resources and tasked to help our region, amongst the wealthiest in the world, prepare for a disaster or outbreak on a very small budget. I experienced this network in action last night when our hospitals all stepped up in the region to assist in the care of a nursing home in the region to help patients get the care they need.

Healthcare systems have borne the brunt of much of the underinvestment in public health being the last back-stop for downstream complications from untreated behavioral health, homelessness, drug addiction and epiphenomena such as our obesity crisis. As community not-for-profits healthcare systems like Multicare and Swedish, are staffed by professionals dedicated to meeting our not-for-profit missions. This isn't to say healthcare systems can't be improved, but we are bearing the consequences of not having reliably deployed stockpiles of equipment to deal with a crisis like Coronavirus. I would say the same for our fantastic public health professionals we have the privilege to work with.

What to do now an in the future?
For now, we ask the public not to hoard items that don't have benefit to the individual but do have significant benefit to protect healthcare workers caring for the whole community such as masks. Using resources where there is a "multiplier effect" is one way to leverage on limited global and local supplies. Hand sanitizer and other products are useful at homes, but only buy what you need for a few weeks so others can also get these items. Follow hygiene and social distancing recommendations. We sadly cancelled an event this weekend, but we wanted to keep our friends and family safe. Other things the public can do is get vaccinated and practice healthy behaviors. Lastly only access healthcare when you need it. Think about Coronavirus much like you would influenza during this season. Contact your healthcare provider before going into a healthcare facility if you have mild symptoms to get advice so the clinics can keep taking care of sick patients and those with chronic disease. On the government level, hopefully VP Pence releases federal stockpiles of medical equipment such as PPE quickly as our hospitals and suppliers are in need.

In the longer term, there is no question that we need to invest more and sustainably in public health. Building on our underfunded resources to support the fantastic professionals who are working tirelessly to keep our communities safe should be a bipartisan issue. Seeing our healthcare communities come together during this crisis has been one of the more energizing parts of dealing with this outbreak. I know we will get through this crisis together, but we need to learn and build as this will not be the last one.


Have a restful and healthy weekend one and all,


David V. Powers, Ph.D. | Dean
901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122-1090
Office: (206) 296-5300