June 3, 2023

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Coronavirus: Spread in Seattle slows down, suggesting restrictions are working

50 victims, is now seeing evidence that harsh containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now.

Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying at home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington state suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days.

While each infected person was spreading the virus to an average of 2.7 other people earlier in March, that number appears to have dropped, with one projection suggesting that it was now down to 1.4.

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The researchers who are preparing the latest projections, led by the Institute for Disease Modelling, a private research group in Bellevue, Washington, have been watching a variety of data points since the onset of the outbreak. They include tens of thousands of coronavirus test results, deaths, and mobility information — including traffic patterns and the movements of anonymous Facebook users — to estimate the rate at which coronavirus patients are spreading the disease to others.

The progress is precarious, and the data, which was still being analysed and has yet to be published, is uncertain. Officials said that expansive social distancing policies will remain a key part of daily life for weeks to come.

But the findings offer a measure of hope that the emergency measures that have disrupted life in much of the nation can be effective in slowing the spread of the disease.

“There is evidence that doing the aggressive measures can have a benefit,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in an interview, discussing the overall numbers he is seeing.

But the governor said that the state was far from turning a corner. He said more restrictions may yet be needed, and that the state is not “within 1,000 miles of declaring victory”.

“It would be grossly irresponsible to stop these measures now,” Inslee said.

The Washington Post

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