Assistant Sec of Health: Time to act, but ‘don’t hit the panic button in Seattle’
The Trump administration and states all across the country are increasing testing capabilities as part of a strategy to tackle the coronavirus. ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., is the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a member of the coronavirus task force.
Giroir joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss the push for tests in Washington state and elsewhere, and what we’ve learned about coronavirus over the past few months.
What does testing look like in Washington state specifically?
“In Washington state, you’re doing really, really well. Your tests last week were almost at 100,000, which is really quite good. You’re covering the population really well. So that’s the good news. The bad news is that, as you know, you’re sort of in what we call a ‘yellow zone.’ Seattle and the surrounding areas have had an uptick in the number of cases, the uptick in the positivity rate of those tests,” he said.
“We know that this is the time where you really need to stop this out by doing the simple public health measures,” he added.
So who should get a COVID-19 test?
“Well, number one, if you’re symptomatic, if you have any symptoms of COVID infection, of course you should get tested. That’s always been the case. Secondly, if you’ve been around anyone who you know is diagnosed with COVID, it’s very important,” he said.
“We know right now that a lot of the spread is due to particularly younger adults 35 and below who are completely asymptomatic. So certainly if you’re a younger adult, even if you don’t have symptoms, if you have a multi-generational household — you may live with grandma, or you’ve been engaging in some activity that’s risky, like indoor bars, crowded areas, crowds — you probably ought to get tested at this stage of the outbreak that you have in Seattle and in Washington in general.”
While Seattle and the surrounding areas offhand appear to be at a decent spot, the issue is that a rise in cases can later lead to a rise in hospitalizations and potentially deaths, so mitigation efforts are crucial.
“There is a metric called positivity rate. It’s sort of what percent of your population is positive at that moment, and you’re still in a pretty good spot at 5.7%. But you were much lower than that. And what we normally see is when that positivity rate goes up, it really says that we’re having a lot more cases, and soon you’ll have more people in the hospital, and then four, six, eight weeks later is when your deaths go up,” Giroir said.
“So the bottom line is don’t hit the panic button in Seattle. But this is the time to do something, and the things we tell you to do is what we’ve been saying — please wear a mask in public, … physical distancing is really important, protect the elderly. Be very careful with your nursing homes, you know that in Seattle. Wash your hands and if you feel sick, stay at home. You do these things, you don’t have to close down the economy. You can keep businesses open. You can keep your hospitals doing elective surgery,” he added. “These few measures are as good as literally closing down and giving shutdown orders.”
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.