Leaving the WA #COVID19 beat for a moment and looking nationally, remember that no matter how out of control your local epidemic is, hunkering down tight will not only stop the growth but prevent infections long after loosening up again. How do we know? Snow in Seattle taught us!
In 2019, my colleagues in the Seattle Flu Study, including @trvrb @HelenChuMD @JShendure @lea_starita @mjonasrieder @debnick60 and others were testing thousands of respiratory samples for lots of pathogens when 4 big snowstorms in a row shut down the Seattle metro for 2 weeks.
In our pre-print (long under revision because something came up...) medrxiv.org/content/10.110…, we report that during the snowfall and the recovery after, regional mobility dropped 40% on average for two weeks in Feb 2019, with a peak drop of 75%.
This is similar to the same drop in highway traffic seen in April 2020 because of #COVID19 but didn't last as long. wsdot.wa.gov/about/covid-19…
Across 9 pathogens, we saw a chunk cut out of the seasonal epidemic of every single one.
In some of them where the snow came early in the epidemic, like Flu H3N2, the most visible effect was a delay. But where the snow came near the natural epidemic peak, like Flu H1N1, both RSVs, common human coronavirus(!), not only did the growth stop, but it never came back!
When we modeled all 9 epidemics, we saw that not only does hunkering down near the peak stop the growth, but it also prevents infections down the line! And if society is only gonna hunker down temporarily for a few weeks, the maximum total benefit comes near the natural peak!
Why? When you have a lot of people infected, hunkering down cleared infections without transmission. And when the snow cleared, there were fewer transmitters to infect the remaining susceptible people and so the total was lower.
With #COVID19, waiting to hunker down leads to huge suffering, as we've seen in Lombardy, New York, now El Paso, the Dakotas... But even if things are dire and feel too late, it's not! Hunkering down tight will save lives even after restrictions relax again. It's not too late!
Until we are all vaccinated, the best strategy remains masking everywhere outside the home, even when it’s awkward, avoiding gatherings and staying outside if you’re gonna gather anyway, isolating when sick and quarantining when exposed.
Shutting it down now by hunkering down, and keeping it back with masks, distance, and patience, will see us through!

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More from @famulare_mike

18 Nov
The recent explosion in #COVID19 cases and rising hospitalizations in WA is due to increasing prevalence in the community. Here's what we know about how many people are infected and what it means for your risk at Thanksgiving and other gatherings. Daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and seven-day run
From cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, we use math modeling to estimate the number of people infected – the prevalence – in WA over time. Prevalence is rising quickly, roughly equal to the March peak as of Nov 6, and will hit 1% by Thanksgiving if we don’t stop it. Model fit to cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, plus estim
What does 1% prevalence in WA on Thanksgiving Day mean? 76 thousand people with COVID. Between 25 to 40 thousand people who won’t yet know they are sick bringing #COVID19 to dinner. 450 people carrying infections on Thanksgiving Day alone that will be dead by New Year’s.
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