Cozy Up for Fall (Safely)

a public health report for October 2

From Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County:

Fall is definitely upon us. The days are shorter, the nights are longer and cooler and many of us start to spend more time inside. Over the summer, our guidance was if you’re going to gather with friends and family, do it outdoors. Socializing outdoors is less risky than indoors for two main reasons: First, natural outdoor airflow rapidly dilutes viruses floating in the air. Second, sunlight kills viruses. It is also easier to physically distance ourselves!

Now, with fall, closed windows decrease fresh airflow which can increase risk, particularly the more people you have inside. And, if people aren’t wearing masks, and are doing activities that involve speaking loudly, singing or exercising, that can add even more risk. 

But the good news is, there are ways to reduce the spread and stay healthy while indoors. Please let your networks know how to reduce risk indoors (we go into more detail on our blog in English and in Spanish).  

  • First, wear masks. Snug, well-fitting cloth face masks should be worn indoors when others are present regardless of the distance between people. (You do not need to wear a mask indoors at home with your household members). 
  • Second, limit exposure. Limit the number of people you’re with and length of time you’re with them indoors. Stay as far apart as possible. Remember, the guidance is not “mask up OR stay 6 feet or more of distance.” Rather, the safer thing to do is to wear a mask AND stay 6 feet or more apart from others.
  • Third, improve ventilation.  Do what you can with indoor spaces, including opening windows when possible. More fresh air means lower risk. 
  • Finally, wash those hands.  Of course, frequent hand-washing and surface -cleaning is always important. 

Business owners, be sure that your workers are following the Washington Labor & Industries guidance for personal protective equipment. You can also review CDC guidance for workplaces and buildings.  

Otherwise, the rest of this post is our regular synthesis of the Public Health data, provided by Will Daugherty of Pacific Science Center.  Thanks Will!  

Update from Public Health – Seattle & King County

Public Health has updated the data dashboard.  The daily summary shows that there were 22,560 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in King County as of 11:59 on September 30, 160 more than the previous day.  There have been 758 confirmed deaths in King County due to COVID-19, 3.4% of all confirmed cases.

The numbers that Public Health reports each day include delayed results from previous days.


The first graph below shows new cases (blue bars) and the 7-day average (red line).  165 new cases were confirmed yesterday and 5 cases were removed from prior totals.  The 7-day average of new cases per day peaked at 197 on April 1.  The average for the last 7 days is now 110 new cases per day, up from 82 a week ago.  The 7-day average has increased 34% in the last week and 36% in the last two weeks.

The key indicators that the State and County are using to make decisions about reopening include a measure of the total number of cases reported in the previous 14 days per 100K residents.  The target for this metric is less than 25.  The second and third graphs below show this metric.  The second graph goes back to March 12, the first day on which the metric could be reported.  The third graph provides a more detailed view of results in the last several weeks. 60.4 cases were reported per 100K residents during the 14-day period September 17 – 30.

As of September 30, three of the eight key indicators are not meeting the targets established by the Washington State Department of Health.  The key indicators not meeting targets are:

  • Total number of cases for the last 14 days per 100,000 residents.
  • Effective reproductive (Re) number calculated by the Institute for Disease Modeling and Microsoft AI for Health team.
  • Number of people tested for each positive result over the last 7 days.

Thank you for being curious.


Will Daugherty welcomes your questions and comments.  His email is

Immediate questions about your health?
King County Public Health Hotline