As a self-appointed translator of Dr. Duchin̵
Do you remember March, when the city felt deserted? When did little, if any, cars move on the street? When the whole world felt as if it was covered in an invisible, deadly substance that could kill you and anyone you liked for a moment? When you pounded on pots every night at 8:00 p.m. In recognition of the victims, did health workers lay every second of every day?
Well, given the recent “explosion of COVID-19 cases, “as Dr. Jeffrey Dutchin, a public health officer for Seattle and King County, told a news conference on Friday, we need to get back into that space.
“The risk of acquiring COVID-19 is higher than it has ever been locally,” said Dr. Duchin. “Every day that we delay taking the necessary action to stop the spread of COVID-19 leads to additional preventable suffering and pain.”
“We don’t have to follow the path to pain that so many other communities are experiencing,” he continued, sounding more metallic than I’ve heard it sound before. “And we’ve already gone too far this way for my consolation.”
The press conference was more or less a thoughtful, heartfelt, understanding, empathetic, epidemiologically based version of Duchin, pointing to publicly available data on COVID-19, staring directly into the camera with a rickshaw smile and then simply holding that pose for half an hour without flashes.
There were an average of 581 new cases a day in King County last week, with the positivity rate rising from 2% in September to about 7% recently, Duchin said. The increased testing rate, he added, did not account for this large increase in infections.
The increases affect people of all ages, but 70% of cases come from people between the ages of 20 and 60, and people with color are still affected by disproportionately high levels.
Hospitalizations have increased by 50 percent in the past two weeks with “215 confirmed and suspected patients in King County hospitals, compared with about 100 for most of September and October,” Duchin said.
Hospitals have activated their emergency response mechanisms to deal with the wave. Investigative tracking teams and a focus of contacts are “overloaded”. And although the number of deaths remains relatively low at the moment, Duchin said the death toll usually comes three weeks after the increase in cases.
We want the transmission speed to be well below 1 and currently at 1.4, which means that this jump will continue to grow exponentially until hospitals overflow and the county begins to value refrigerated trucks for use as mobile morgues.
Luckily for us, we really only had to do a few things immediately:
• Stop hanging out indoors with people we don’t live with yet. Restrictions on restaurants, bars and gyms “will not be enough to overcome this outbreak,” Duchin said. We have to spice up dinners, brunches, weddings, church gatherings, fucking Halloween parties, fucking Thanksgiving celebrations and funerals – otherwise there will be many more.
• Do not take a COVID-19 test just to be able to attend Thanksgiving. Seattle’s test centers are full of people doing this, and that underscores the system. A negative test does not necessarily mean that you are not infected, you can become infected between the time you take the test and get the results, and you know that your ass is not in fact in quarantine for 14 days.
• Wear good masks and wash your hands. We’re still doing this, aren’t we?
• Narc of our favorites when we catch COVID-19. Duchin said that patients with COVID-19 would tell follow-up contacts that they had attended a party with “10, 30, 50 others, and would even say that some of these people had caught COVID after the party,” but would not say who threw a viral party in the first place. Also restaurants and gyms. That is, they will say that they visited restaurants and gyms while they were contagious with COVID, but they will not specify the places because they are worried about not getting their favorite places “in trouble”. Duchin said public health officials could provide clearer and more accurate information about community outbreaks only if people were more forthcoming, but at the moment he “has no solution” for people who are left with their lips pursed.