GEE AND URSULA

Expert: Washington ‘potentially on cusp of Wuhan 2.0’ with coronavirus

Mar 5, 2020, 11:08 AM | Updated: Mar 6, 2020, 7:29 am
coronavirus, face coverings...
A pair of workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Ding spoke with KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show, stressing the need for massively increased safety measures in Washington state.

Follow live coronavirus updates here

“I think the Seattle area in Washington state is potentially on the cusp off being a Wuhan 2.0,” cautioned Dr. Ding, epidemiologist, health economist, and nutrition scientist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Ding worries that the state is following a similar pattern to how coronavirus was first handled in Wuhan, China, where the country was slow to ramp up testing and containment.

A recent report from the World Health Organization concludes that “much of the global community is not yet ready, in mindset and materially, to implement the measures that been employed to contain COVID-19 in China.”

That’s backed up by conclusions reached by King County health officials, which recently stated that Washington state’s capacity for coronavirus is “inadequate for the number of people who want to be tested.”

It’s that testing Dr. Ding sees as crucial to limiting the spread of coronavirus, helping state and federal agencies devise the best way to contain the illness.

“The key to stopping an epidemic is contact tracing, and finding those infected as soon as possible, not three or four weeks after the fact, like the first few cases [in Washington],” he detailed.

As it stands right now, the WHO report says that the only proven measures to minimize coronavirus transmission are “extremely proactive surveillance to immediately detect cases, very rapid diagnosis, immediate case isolation, rigorous tracking and quarantine of close contacts, and an exceptionally high degree of population understanding and acceptance of these measures.”

Dr. Ding also notes that the possibility of shutting down large events like Emerald City Comic Con in downtown Seattle should be something under “urgent consideration.” The yearly convention brought in 98,000 people in 2019, and plans to go forward as scheduled this year. However, tickets are refundable.

“This is where the difference between us becoming a runaway epidemic and a contained epidemic is social distancing,” he noted.

In terms of tracking the virus, UW Medicine is increasing its capacity to handle 1,000 tests a day. But even that, Ding warns, may not be sufficient.

Is coronavirus clearing the roads for Puget Sound commuters?

“One-thousand tests per day is a good start, but it’s nothing like what they’re doing in South Korea,” Dr. Ding described.

In South Korea, measures like drive-through testing have been implemented, vastly increasing the country’s capacity to test and track as many people as possible.

Washington state health officials announced Thursday that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington has ballooned to 70 people. That includes 51 in King County, 18 in Snohomish County, and the first case in Grant County.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

Gee Ursula One Seattle...
KIRO Newsradio staff

Thousands of volunteers give back to the community for One Seattle Day

Thousands of volunteers gave back to the community on Saturday for One Seattle Day, including KIRO Newsradio's own Gee and Ursula Show.
3 days ago
(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
5 days ago
SPD water rescue...
MyNorthwest Staff

Dramatic water rescue on Lake Washington saves two adults, toddler

High winds and rough seas caused an inflatable boat to capsize on Lake Washington near the I-90 bridge on Wednesday, leading to a dramatic water rescue of two men and a toddler.
5 days ago
masks...
Brent Stecker

With COVID cases on rise again, did Washington lift mask mandate too soon?

Two months since Washington's mask mandate was lifted, cases are rising again. Gee and Ursula discussed their thoughts on the situation.
5 days ago
parking...
Dalton Day

Pierce County executive vetoes safe parking policy citing skirt of community feedback process

A measure to designate additional parking facilities for homeless communities in Pierce County has been struck down.
21 days ago
pot...
MyNorthwest Staff

City leaders lobby Congress to relax pot shop banking laws amid recent spate of armed robberies

Seattle city leaders called on Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act, a bill that would allow pot stores to access traditional banking services.
28 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Expert: Washington ‘potentially on cusp of Wuhan 2.0’ with coronavirus