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Virologist borrows fourth quarter wisdom from Seahawks head coach as COVID metaphor

The Tampa Convention Center has COVID-19 warning signs in preparation for the Super Bowl LV on Feb. 6, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

While COVID-19 case numbers in Washington state have started to drop from the most recent peak, and similar trends have been seen across the country, public health experts are still warning that the game is far from over, advising us to stay strong on defense.

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That reminded host Gee Scott of a quote from Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll that the game can be won in the fourth quarter, not the first, second, or third. So is the fourth quarter a good metaphor for where we are now in course of the COVID-19 pandemic?

“I think that’s fair,” said Dr. Angela Rasmussen, virologist and weekly guest of KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “To extend that metaphor, I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t played well in the first, second, or third quarter, but we better win this game in the fourth quarter.”

Rasmussen returned to the football analogy again in response to a recent statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who expressed that people who are fully vaccinated could start gathering in small groups with minimal risk.

“What I think is really important to note here is that we’re talking about a group of people where everybody has been vaccinated, and not in a public place where there are going to be unvaccinated people around, but in your home,” Dr. Rasmussen said.

“So let’s say that you’ve gotten vaccinated, and your parents, some people outside your household, your friends, have all gone through their full regimen of vaccine shots and waited another week or two so that they’re fully immune,” she explained. “Then it would be perfectly fine for you to get together inside, at somebody’s house, to meet up indoors without masks and start socializing again.”

This does not mean that you should go out to bars or restaurants with large groups just because you’re all vaccinated, for a few different reasons, Rasmussen continued.

“One [reason] is that there will be other unvaccinated people, and we still don’t really know fully what the risk of transmission to them is,” she said. “In addition to that, it really, I think, just sends a bad signal to end up with really a two tiered society where you’re going to have people who have been able to access the vaccine and those who have not. We already know that there is still big problems with equity in terms of the vaccine rollout and distribution. There are a number of people, especially older people, who might not have access to the type of technology that’s often used to set up vaccine appointments, as well as communities of color who have not been able to access the vaccine.”

She sees it as a bad message to have people who have been able to access the vaccine going out and enjoying all the things that have been restricted for everyone else, when there are other people who are eligible to receive the vaccine but have not yet been able to get it.

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“So to go back to the football game analogy, if you’re losing and you’re behind for the first three quarters,
the beginning of the fourth quarter is not the time to start slacking off,” she said. “That’s when you really buckle down the hardest and start pulling out the crazy plays to try to win the actual game.”

“And that’s really kind of the mindset that we should all have right now,” she added. “We all need to buckle down as a team to get through and win the game, and then we can all celebrate together.”

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.

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