New Restrictions are Really Really Important | a public health update

a message from Public Health Director Patty Hayes

The following is a message to key ambassadors from Patty Hayes.  And to anyone reading this, you are one of those key ambassadors.  Please help reinforce this message and the new restrictions to ensure the health and safety of our community and to help accelerate us past this surge into a time of relative normalcy again soon.

Dear Ambassadors,

By now you will have heard that COVID-19 cases in King County are skyrocketing – averaging about 510 new cases daily over the last week. Our previous peaks were around 195 cases daily. Hospitalizations are also on the rise – a 70% increase in the last week.

While transmission is occurring in many different locations and scenarios, we know that casual gatherings with friends and family – for dinners, birthdays, game days and the like – are fueling infections. Indoor environments are more dangerous than outdoor settings because of the increased potential for airborne spread.

With pandemic raging in King County and elsewhere in the state, the Governor issued new restrictions over the weekend, including prohibiting gatherings indoors and limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 5 people from outside one’s own household. The restrictions also reduced capacity in most indoor businesses and prohibited higher risk indoor activities. King County Executive Constantine‘s statement and our health officer Jeff Duchin’s statementboth speak to their support of the Governor’s actions.

These temporary restrictions are aimed at preventing cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and protecting our most vulnerable. I know that the pandemic and these restrictions are incredibly difficult for our communities – challenging our mental health, physical health, and economic security. We can and must work together to address each of these fronts.

Our current situation is temporary. But steps we take today can set the stage for going back to the things we love. This high transmission rate CAN be brought under control if we all do these health-focused actions:

  • Do not gather indoors with others outside your household; outside gatherings must be limited to 5 people. Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Wear masks when you are with people from outside your household and stay at least 6 feet apart.
  • If it is absolutely necessary for someone from outside your household to come inside your home, keep the windows open or ventilation turned up, wear a mask, and stay at least six feet apart. Wash hands and surfaces frequently.
  • The safest option is to avoid gathering with people you don’t live with this holiday season, unless you have quarantined for at least 14 days or quarantined for 7 days and had a negative COVID-19 test. Follow the Governor’s other restrictions.
  • Get a test at the first sign of illness or if you’ve been around someone with COVID-19.

This weekend, over 500 King County nurses signed a statement in the Seattle Times asking all residents to follow these actions. We need adequate space in our hospitals for people with strokes, cardiac arrests, and other emergencies, and yes, for life-saving care for COVID-19 patients.

Please share this message with your networks, your friends, employees, and family. Together, we can come out of this period stronger and healthier. COVID will not be around forever, and with luck, we’ll be able to share holidays like normal next year.

Best wishes,


Patty Hayes, RN, MN
Public Health – Seattle & King County

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