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One Year Later: Seattle Continues to Have Lowest COVID-19 Cases of All Major Cities

On February 28, 2020, Public Health – Seattle & King County identified the first death of COVID-19.

This past year changed everything for all of us: Masks, testing, isolation. Losing loved ones. Small business owners struggling every day to survive. Workers facing lost wages and jobs, and unable to pay their rent. Parents grappling with childcare, kids at home, and online learning. And the pandemic disproportionately hit our Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities.

The pandemic is our lifetime’s challenge.

As difficult as this year has been for our region, our community took early action to save lives and lead the nation in our response to the pandemic.

Seattle continues to record the lowest cases of COVID-19 compared to the top 30 other major cities with currently available data. In addition, Seattle has some of the lowest hospitalizations and deaths throughout the entire crisis, despite being the earliest epicenter.

Looking back at the year, we took many bold steps early without any national playbook. We followed science and public health experts, acted with speed and urgency, and aligned at every level of government. As a community, we committed to taking care of one another by masking up, limiting our gatherings, staying home, and getting tested at our City’s free sites.

Here’s what we’ve done together: one year into the crisis, Seattle continues to have lowest cumulative cases of the top 30 major cities in the U.S. While we have faced three nationwide surges of the virus, Seattle and King County cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are dramatically lower than every other American city.

Unfortunately, the United States reached a staggering milestone this past week, surpassing 500,000 known COVID-related deaths over the last year. In Seattle, we have lost 354 individuals to COVID-19. We remember each life lost not just as a daily number but as friends, loved ones, mothers, children, grandparents, fathers, mentors, brothers and sisters. Many of these individuals took their last breath alone, and friends and family could not grieve together in person.

Our collective actions together in Seattle have been to save lives and ensure more families did not have to suffer through the grief and sorrow.

Hope is in the horizon with vaccinations. But we also have challenges ahead with the new variants and a continued limited supply of vaccines.

COVID-19 variants still spread in the same ways as the earlier coronavirus strain: person-to-person and mostly through the air as people cough, talk, sing, or breathe. That means the measures we know are effective will protect us:  Wear a mask. Limit social gatherings, especially indoors. Wash your hands. Stay home when sick.

And get tested if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive.

Last year, we became a nationwide model for testing. Initially, first responders tested other first responders then our Seattle Fire mobile teams began testing residents at long term care facilities. And then pioneered four free citywide testing sites. These sites have now done 650,000 tests including testing nearly 1 out of every 3 Seattle residents.

Testing protects you and your family, and we see cities that are testing more community members have some of the lowest cases.

We are writing the final chapters of this generational challenge. We can get through this pandemic together. With our shared efforts on vaccinations, we will beat this virus, reopen and recover.