COVID-19 Update, August 21, 2020Washington State Department of Health sent this bulletin at 08/21/2020 05:30 PM PDT
COVID-19 Update, August 21, 2020
Good afternoon! The state Department of Health (http://www.doh.wa.gov/) wants to keep you as informed as possible about continuing developments surrounding COVID-19 as well as guidance and resources you can share with employees, clients, or customers.
The most important thing we can do to get our kids back in school safely is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. That means we all need to continue wearing our cloth face coverings, staying six feet away from other people, and keeping our get-togethers very small, infrequent, and outdoors.
Many schools are opening remotely now, but what will it look like as schools begin to return to in-person instruction? Along with Public Health – Seattle & King County, we released a new report by the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) that looks at different approaches to bringing students back to in-person instruction. The report is the result of computer models using data that describes the transmission of COVID-19—plus information we know about the effectiveness of various things we do to prevent its spread—in order to predict to the course of the epidemic under various conditions in our communities and schools.
If you are familiar with the weather report, you are familiar with using models to predict the future. Computer models use lots of historical weather data to make predictions—if the wind continues like this, what are the chances that it will it rain? In our case, we are asking the model, if kids come back to school every day or every other day, what are the chances that this causes exponential spread of COVID-19 in our communities?
The models show that any way we return to in-person education, there will be some risk of spreading COVID-19. Nevertheless, bringing children back to school—as safely as possible—is good public health. Children and families rely on in-person education not only for academic advancement, but also for language development, social and emotional growth, meals, and to allow parents to work outside the home.
As we bring children back to in-person education, schools and families will need to take many precautions to keep the students and staff safe. The models suggest that it will be safest to bring the youngest and most at-need students back into buildings first. As they do so, we can expect that they will come back for two days of in-person instruction per week at first. There will be daily symptom checks, cloth face coverings, lots of hand washing, and many changes to make sure that students can stay six feet apart during their time at school.
There is still a long way to go before our rates of COVID-19 are low enough to return to in-person learning. But we can get there by working together to stay apart.
Numbers. The latest numbers are on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on August 20, 69,779 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 6,469 people had to be hospitalized, and 1,850 people (or 2.7%) have died of the disease. More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH website and in the state’s risk assessment dashboard.
Practice compassion. Reach out to a parent preparing to help their student begin remote learning. Can you offer to provide video conference homework help once school starts? How else can you support your neighbors from six feet away?
Remind the kids to wash their hands,