Good morning everyone, I hope you were all able to take some time to rest and take care of yourselves this past weekend as we gear up for the changes (known and as-yet unknown) of the coming few weeks. As always, I remind you that the official university updates are being posted at www.seattleu.edu/coronavirus/ . There are still no known student, staff or faculty cases of COVID-19.
The college policy for managing remote office staffing was sent out Friday afternoon at 4:09 pm. It was sent to everyone receiving this message under the title "A&S COVID UPDATE on Staffing Administrative Offices". Given the high volume of email traffic on this issue I am referring to previous messages rather than re-sending things. Most of you are aware that many students have already flown home; we are adapting services to support them, including the Writing Center offering online appointments. They expect to be operating close to normal capacity for week 10 and finals, a busy period for them in any circumstances. www.seattleu.edu/writingcenter/
I presume there will be continuing updates over the coming days. We're trying a lot of new things starting today, most won't work perfectly and all will take time to master. We're beginning a voyage of discovery that curiosity, patience, persistence and flexibility can help us navigate.
Unofficially, all coronavirus coverage in the Seattle Times can be found at www.seattletimes.com/tag/coronavirus/ . I thought the graph below provided a nice illustration of the community impact of our shared efforts in taking health measures. You may also have heard that Stanford University has now moved to remote instruction for the remainder of their quarter.
Here is Dr. Mike Myint's update this morning, including a note that it is NOT too late for an influenza vaccination and some encouraging information about a collaborative approach being taken among Puget Sound health care systems:
An update from the frontline.
Our understanding of the epidemic continues to evolve. COVID19 (C19) behaves similarly to influenza in it's infectivity but it has a higher complication rate than the usual influenza season. It seems to cluster around households and pass by droplet and contaminated surfaces rather than airborne over longer distances. At the same time most hospitals in the epicenter of the US outbreak in the Puget Sound are having problems getting supplies of Personal Protective Equipment and other basics to care for an increasing number of patients, mostly elderly. King County has been particularly hit hard with the involved nursing home in Kirkland, but it has spread to Snohomish and Pierce, where I work now. Across the US, our cases are increasing. If you look at the global maps, South Korea, Italy, and Iran have entered the exponential phase of their epidemics. The reality is C19 is here in the US now and popping up in multiple cities in addition to Seattle. Remember that most individuals who will get this will have milder disease symptoms similar to that of a cold. The elderly are particularly vulnerable and interventions to prevent disease from entering nursing homes are important.
A few take home notes from what we know now.
- Social distancing, hand hygiene, and avoiding touching your face in public, and covering one's cough works to blunt the "peak" of the epidemic area by area. Recall how this is transmitted, by close proximity droplets (WHO states 3 feet from someone who is coughing is the are at risk) and contaminated surfaces. Seattle's largest convention, Comicon has been postponed, much to the disappointment but understanding of my daughters. Many schools have gone to remote learning. I would recommend minimizing un-necessary public exposures at this point as the C19 in the Puget Sound is still on the rise. We suspect it isn't prevalent in the community yet from our initial broader testing now that it is available, but we are seeing cases increasing in the healthcare system, especially in the elderly. Modelling from other similar countries like Italy and South Korea, we are only at the beginning of our US epidemic. There are learnings from Japan and Taiwan that might help inform our public health officials as I have previously posted.
- People need to stay home when sick. Staying home when sick (or keeping your kids home when sick) is NOT optional. Fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other Upper Respiratory infection (URI) symptoms are an indication to stay home. Consider a fever anything over 100.4 but err on the side of caution if you feel unwell. This is also the start of allergy season, so sometimes it is challenging to tell the difference. I get asked all the time when to seek healthcare? Given that the disease is similar to influenza, I would do what you normally do. If you would have stayed home, rest and can hydrate and manage your symptoms, manage at home. if you feel like you need to be evaluated for more severe symptoms like shortness of breath, call your provider first. note that influenza is still present in the Northwest so it is still not too late to vaccinate.
- The Puget Sound has one of the most sophisticated healthcare coordination systems in the country. For example, our hospitals in Pierce county has taken patients from King County when the surge from the nursing home in Kirkland had multiple cases. The Northwest Healthcare Coalition continues to work with the State of Washington and the Federal government on how to distribute needed PPE from the strategic stockpile. It is very heartening to hear leaders from all the major healthcare systems working to coordinate our regional response.
Let's support each other by doing these basics to protect ourselves and our communities.
Take care everyone,