November 10th, 2020
Dear Clinic Members,
We are extremely concerned at this time by the surging numbers of Covid19 cases in the United States and in Kitsap County. Scientists have been predicting a winter-time rise in case numbers, but the present picture is worse than expected. The case numbers have started to rise much earlier than hoped and are showing no signs of moderation. The reasons for the worsening situation clearly relate to the disregard or laxity with which many have been treating the guidance from scientists.
Even in Washington State, where we have done *remarkably* well until now — considering that we had the first recognized Covid outbreaks in the country — we are seeing an alarming trend of increasing infections. The news briefing today by Washington State health officials highlighted the fact that we are facing a prospective full lockdown if we collectively do not take more decisive actions to curb the spread of the virus.
Because of this, our chief point in today’s newsletter is this: we ask you again to diligently follow all social distancing and other protective protocols. As discussed in the last newsletter, we are inviting our clinic members to think carefully about their holiday plans. It is best to avoid travel out of the area, and to avoid gatherings with people outside of your quarantine bubble.
In a news release on November 6th, Kitsap Public Health District stated that “spread among families and households [has been] a key driver of recent case increases, including cases among children. To prevent spreading COVID-19 to others, it is important for all members of a household to stay home and avoid contact with others if any member of their household has symptoms.” (Emphasis added).
We are worried by the fact that the wait times for getting coronavirus test results are becoming much longer again, due to the increased demand for testing. As of this last week, our patients that have needed testing had to wait 4 to 6 days for results from our main reference lab.
Current Kitsap Public Health guidelines recommend testing “anyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, even if their illness is mild.” We recognize that these symptoms overlap with many, many other conditions. This fact actually makes the case for laboratory testing more compelling. If a person *might* have Covid19, they need to know so that they can avoid spreading the virus to others. (See the end of this letter if you’d like a refresher as to the official list of symptoms.)
Please call the office should you develop symptoms of Covid19, and we can arrange to do “drive-in” testing during office hours. For testing outside of our office hours, you may need to consult the list at the Kitsap Public Health District here.
We also urge all of our patients who experience symptoms to self-quarantine until they have their test results back. This might be especially difficult in light of the increasing delays for getting test results, but we as a community must be prepared to make sacrifices in order to avoid being an unwitting link in a chain that ends in someone having long-term complications from Covid19 or in the worst scenario, a needless death.
Because a large percentage of people infected with Covid19 show no symptoms whatsoever, it is important to act as if you may be spreading the virus whenever you gather with others. Even if you are able to be tested before gathering with others and receive a negative result, this only tells you that you did not have measurable levels of the virus at the moment in time when you were tested.
In other words, you should not rely on a negative test as a “mingle freely” card. It is possible for an infected person to test negative during the incubation period, before they become infectious to others. It is also possible for an uninfected person to become infected after they’ve been tested.
We are heartened by the news this week about an effective vaccine. It’s easy to breathe a sigh of relief hearing this news, but there is still more testing that needs to be done to ensure that the vaccine is reasonably safe, and even once the vaccine safety has been demonstrated it will still be several months before it becomes widely available for the general population.
There is cause for encouragement to bear in mind: although right now things are getting about as hard as they’re going to get, we’re talking now in terms of months, not years, for relief. We can do this. We can get through these next difficult months.
We understandably are all growing weary of the social distancing and the disruptions to our usual routines. While the end is not yet in sight, we feel confident that in the future we *will* be able to resume normal lives again. We can look forward to a day in the next year or two when we will be able to hug our friends and relatives, gather for festive celebrations, work out at the gym, sit down with friends inside of our favorite restaurants, and attend all of the sports events, plays, concerts, movies, performances, choir rehearsals, club meetings, church services, book readings, and meditation retreats that we might care to.
We urge patience, equanimity, and sympathy. We believe that the cumulative effect of all our individual sacrifices during this pandemic will save thousands of lives — and that is not an exaggeration.
We remain committed to your health and well-being.
Dr. Crandell and Staff