Washington counties may still have a long way to go before reopening
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This article first appeared on the Seattle Times website.
More than half of Washington counties are now poised to begin lifting some coronavirus restrictions, but stubbornly high rates of infection in many major population centers underscore the uneven and local nature of the statewide epidemic.
Dr. Chris Dale, chief quality officer for Swedish Health Services, said their census of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was 62 on May 20, down from a high of 175 during the pandemic’s initial peak. Like most other medical centers across the state, Swedish has ample capacity for future cases, even as elective surgeries are resuming.
“It will require vigilance,” Dale said. “We are paying close attention to the numbers and what we’re seeing in the community.”
Duchin said the Inslee/CDC criterion for infection rates is a reasonable target to shoot for. But it might not be achievable within a reasonable period of time when measured against the economic and social costs of ongoing shutdowns.
“Ultimately, if we are not able to get to that magic number of 16 cases per day, but we see that we’re still able to manage because we’ve got capacity in our health care system and in our public health system and our vulnerable populations are not experiencing outbreaks that are overwhelming us,” he said, “then I think we’ll have to consider moving forward — very carefully.”