Coronavirus update: UW busy with testing, new guidelines for visiting grandma and other COVID-19 headlines

Coronavirus Family Tree
The University of Washington Virology lab, which is testing samples for coronavirus, tweeted last night.  "Another busy day on March 8...Tests for 450 people with about 13 percent positive. Many samples coming from other parts of the US so unclear what this rate means for the Seattle outbreak. Clearly there are many people infected." Testing on March 7 of samples from 400 people had a 10 percent positivity rate. The lab forwards all its info on to the CDC and submitted genome data to a worldwide database.
Based on that data, and data from myriad other testing locations, here's Nextstrain.org's visual of the virus' family tree.

Just Call
Governor Jay Inslee announced new guidelines effective through April 9 concerning visitors to state-licensed nursing homes and assisted living facilities, in an attempt to limit spread among the state's most vulnerable elderly people. According to his announcement, facility administration is now, "prohibited from allowing a person to enter the facility and visit a resident unless that person is an adult, the resident has not already had a visitor that day, and the visit takes place in the resident’s room. This prohibition does not apply in end of life situations." Additionally, visitors must be screened for the virus prior to entry, and present ID and contact info on a daily log.

What's with the Death Rate?
The American Health Care Association released its own suggested guidelines regarding visitors to long-term and assisted-living facilities today, going even further than Inslee in urging a virtual lockdown of facilities caring for elderly populations — even urging family members not to visit.

According to the New York Times, "The recommendation follows an outbreak of the virus in the region around Seattle, where five long-term care facilities have been hit with cases, including a facility in Kirkland, Wash., where 18 residents have died. There have now been more than 800 cases of coronavirus in the United States, including 27 deaths." The mortality rate is shocking,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association. He said that the death rate might well exceed the 15 percent reported in China for people aged 80 and older who were infected."


Speaking of the Death Rate...
Germany is reporting 1457 cases of coronavirus, with just two deaths. How'd that happen? Widespread testing beginning in January — improving containment of the virus — may be a key reason.  Even so, "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that tough new measures now being imposed would help buy even more time to slow the spread of the virus.
In recent days, authorities have stepped up quarantines, closed numerous schools and urged soccer clubs to play matches without spectators. On Monday, the German parliament announced that visitors won’t be allowed to access the glass dome of the Reichstag building anymore. “All of this is necessary,” said Merkel.

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About The Author

Anne McGregor

Anne McGregor is a contributor to the Inlander and the editor of InHealth. She is married to Inlander editor/publisher Ted S. McGregor, Jr.