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Following New Reports on Impact of Social Distancing Measures, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan Highlights Continued Importance of Social Distancing Measures

Seattle (March 30, 2020) – Following two new reports from the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM), Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued the follow statement continuing to urge residents to continue social distancing measures in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in King County. 

“My simple message: stay home. It will save lives. Throughout the last four weeks, the City, State, and County have taken a number of urgent, unprecedented measures to encourage social distancing in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19.  Social distancing is the only tool that we have towards slowing the virus, and the preliminary data is showing our actions are critical to cutting transmission in half. With no cure or vaccine, it’s what we can do to save lives and to mitigate against overwhelming our regional healthcare system. We also know we have to continue these measures for the foreseeable future,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We are so fortunate to have some of the country’s best scientists, researchers, doctors, and public health officials who urged early and quick action. Their early actions saved lives, and I am grateful for their continued around-the-clock work to keep local officials and the public informed.”   

IDM’s two reports include Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 Policy Change in the Greater Seattle Area using Mobility Data and Social distancing and mobility reductions have reduced COVID-19 transmission in King County, WAAnalyzing changes in population mobility and transmission data, IDM determined that the effective reproductive number, or transmission per infected person, decreased from 2.7 in late February to 1.4 by March 18. IDM worked with Public Health Seattle-King County to use their data on testing, diagnosis and deaths, and data from the Washington State Department of Health and Facebook on mobility to compile two reports on changes in population mobility due to policies and changes in transmission. Given the small sample of testing, IDM and Public Health Seattle-King County cautioned that results were preliminary and that continued social distancing measures would be critical in slowing the spread. The number of infections is still expected to increase.  

On March 15, Governor Inslee announced a ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ Order which banned all gatherings, closed all non-essential businesses unless employees could work from home, and required all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are engaging in an essential activity. Prior to the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ Order, Mayor Durkan joined the Governor as he announced the temporary limit of operations for bars and restaurants and required dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs, and other similar indoor social or recreational venues to cease operations.   

At the local level, the City of Seattle continues to operate with a majority of its workforce telecommuting, but has closed all libraries, the majority of parks programming, and cancelled all permitted events until April. Last week, the City of Seattle Parks Department issued additional guidance in partnership with the King County Parks Department encouraging social distancing in parks.