Pandemic rages on
Coronavirus cases are surging in King County and across the nation as indicators show a new daily high in reported cases in the U.S.
Seattle & King County Public Health announced 517 new positive cases on Nov. 5 and 559 new positives the day prior. Washington state hit a total of 112,550, according to the state Department of Health.
The country posted its highest number of new cases yet on Nov. 5, hitting 121,504 in a single day, according to The New York Times. Total cases have exceeded 10 million and deaths are over 235,000.
In a press conference, Public Health Officer Jeff Duchin cautioned that should the community let down its guard and succumb to “pandemic fatigue,” the virus will rage through like a wildfire. He said 5% of the population has been impacted by the virus, meaning there is plenty of tinder left to burn.
“I fear that folks are going to wait until they see something dire to act,” Duchin said.
According to the state’s situation report, growth is high among younger and middle-aged people in the Puget Sound Region, suggesting that the virus is passing through community spread.
“Any spike in COVID-19 cases will jeopardize our progress toward reopening schools, strain our healthcare system and increase risks during holiday gatherings,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy Secretary of Health for COVID-19 Response.
There are some positive indicators, notes Public Health. The rate of hospitalizations in the county are flat or decreasing, as is the risk of death from the disease, and while 75% of the county’s hospital beds are occupied, only 2% of all the county’s beds are filled by COVID patients.
The virus spreads fastest in enclosed, unventilated spaces, and the state is heading toward cold, wet weather and the holiday season. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for a checklist to make in-person holiday gatherings safer.
Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) announced plans to keep people experiencing homelessness safe as the weather turns and the coronavirus continues to spread.
The department reports that it has identified shelter spaces for an emergency response covering short-term and longer-term weather events. Such sites include City Hall, the Seattle Municipal Tower and Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion. That list could be expanded to include community centers and other city-owned facilities that could be turned into temporary shelter, as in years past.
City Hall and Fisher Pavilion are already being used as shelters run by the Salvation Army, but the organization will relocate those shelters to a sodo facility, freeing up the other buildings by mid-November, according to HSD.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
Read more of the Nov. 11-17, 2020 issue.