UW fights spread of COVID-19

Recent news in the battle against COVID-19 from the UW community:

Taking testing to at-risk communities

To overcome health inequities plaguing vulnerable communities, UW Medicine’s COVID-19 mobile van testing program has reached out to South Seattle and South King County and served more than 15,000 people.

“We are one of the first health-care teams that mobilized efforts to provide community testing for vulnerable populations in King County,” says Dr. Lisa Chew, ’96, ’97, ’02, ’03, ’09, associate professor of general internal medicine and associate medical director for ambulatory services at UW Medicine-Harborview. “It’s important to go to areas where we find that there are high positivity rates so we can identify individuals who are infected with the virus and isolate them quickly.”

Using two vans, UW Medicine provides access to testing in South King County and South Seattle, as well as for people experiencing homelessness. Language interpreting services are on site and those who are deaf and blind are welcome, too. There is no need for health insurance and people do not need to be patients of UW Medicine.

Says Chew: “People feel much more comfortable to get tested with the vans coming to their neighborhood.”

Hotel rooms for homeless slow COVID-19

King County’s plan to move people out of homeless shelters and into hotel rooms helped slow the transmission of coronarvirus, a University of Washington study has found. The intervention also produced other benefits to those who were relocated: improved physical and mental health, and the ability to focus on long-term goals such as obtaining housing, employment and education. “We need to remove the crisis of homelessness to allow people to move forward,” says Rachel Fyall, associate professor of public policy and one of the study’s authors.

Hold on: Hydroxychloroquine is not a panacea

Early in the pandemic, hydroxychloroquine was touted as a way to ward off COVID-19. But a UW Medicine study found that is not the case. UW researchers found that people who have had close contact with those with confirmed COVID-19 infections who took hydroxychloroquine were just as like to get COVID-19 as were those who received a placebo.

Alum named to coronavirus task force

An alumna of the UW School of Medicine has been appointed to President-Elect Biden’s coronavirus task force. Celine R. Gounder, ’04, is a clinical assistant professor at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and a practicing HIV/infectious disease specialist and internist, epidemiologist, journalist and filmmaker. She is the host and producer of “In Sickness and in Health,” a podcast on health and social justice. She is best known for her print and TV coverage of the Ebola, Zika and opioid abuse epidemics.