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King County moving ‘in the right direction’ in quelling COVID-19 outbreak

Public Health – Seattle & King County released a new data dashboard Wednesday with an update on key indicators related to COVID-19 activity, testing capacity, and the status of the health care system.

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The indicators reflect transmission from behaviors and activities that happened one to three weeks ago, not current data, due to the time it takes for someone to become ill after infection, seek health care, be tested, and the progression of the virus. This means if the county makes changes in behavior today that either increase or decrease transmission, we would see the results a couple weeks later.

“Because of the steps we’ve taken together, many indicators have moved in the right direction, although we clearly need to continue many of our efforts to limit the spread of this virus while enhancing others,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County. “To decrease personal and community risk, it’s important to continue to avoid close contact with others outside the home, use cloth face masks when in public, wash hands and disinfect surfaces frequently, and take steps to decrease the risk for COVID-19 at workplaces, businesses and other locations where people may gather. And, if you get sick symptoms associated with COVID-19 ask your health care provider right away for a test.”

These key indicators, Duchin said, provide an overview of how King County is performing. The metrics are used with other data and recommendations to inform decisions regarding current strategies, and if the restrictions are adequate, need to be strengthened, or can be relaxed.

“I’m proud of King County residents for doing their part to limit the spread of this dangerous virus, but we are not out of the woods yet,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “… The health of our whole community depends on what each of us do to protect ourselves and others.”

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The “COVID-19 activity” on the dashboard shows the trend in the numbers of new cases for every 100,000 King County residents, Duchin explained to Public Health Insider. The hope is to have a downward trend with less than 10 new cases for every 100,000 county residents for two weeks, which Duchin says is about 16 cases or less each day over 14 days.

Health officials monitor information from multiple sources and display data on a public dashboard online here. Duchin says the spread and impact of COVID-19 is directly related to actions, behaviors, and precautions we take as individuals and in shared spaces. It also relies on the public health system to respond to outbreaks and identify cases and their contacts to prevent further spread.

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