Hope for the year ahead: A message from our health officer, Dr. Jeff Duchin

After a dramatic increase in cases for seven weeks beginning in late October, new case reports have fallen from about 750 per day in early December to about 300 new cases daily over the past week, while hospitalizations and deaths continue to be three to four times higher than before the recent surge. Although it is very good to see the number of new cases dropping recently, the level of COVID-19 activity and transmission risk remains high and this continues to be a dangerous time to relax any of our COVID-19 precautions.

2020 was a difficult year in many ways and I want to again send sincere condolences to the families and friends of the more than 1000 King County residents who have lost their lives to COVID-19 this year. I also wish a full recovery for the thousands of King County residents who have been hospitalized, and to acknowledge all who have suffered from COVID-19 directly or indirectly since the outbreak began – we will do all we can to help ensure a better year ahead for everyone. I also want to thank everyone who made difficult changes and sacrifices by limiting their activities and gatherings with friends and family in order to protect their health and the health of our community. We are all seeing and benefiting from the positive effects of your actions. The next 6 weeks will reveal the trajectory of our outbreak as we enter the new year, a year that holds much promise for decreasing the impact of COVID-19 through vaccination.

Our actions, including the precautions we continue to take and the amount of gathering that we do over the holiday and New Year’s period will determine whether we enter 2021 heading in the right direction, or veer again towards increasing danger. Please remember that what we see today reflects actions we took 2-3 weeks ago and that what we do today determines what we experience in the coming weeks and months. For now, it is essential that we continue to limit activities outside the home and gatherings to household members only. If you do need to be around others make gatherings small, brief, with plenty of distance, and outdoors whenever possible. Wear a face covering when indoors with people you don’t live with, and if you must travel please take precautions. If we can hang on for a few more months with all the steps we know work to stop the spread, it’s likely we can get through the worst of this outbreak and with sufficient vaccine use, be on our way to a sustained recovery from COVID-19. I wish everyone a healthy and peaceful New Year.

– Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County

Originally posted December 31, 2020