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Dear neighbors,

I have some could-be-worse (I hesitate to call it "good") news to share, plus the latest on food/grocery risk and the trend towards #masks4all.  Warm welcome to the 22 new members I met yesterday on 13th and 14th Avenues - thank you for your openness to connecting and supporting your neighborhood community!

Some Could-be-worse Numbers

A UW research center called IHME has put out state-by-state hospital usage projections: click here and select "Washington" to see more detail, but here's our state's projected curve for Covid-19 deaths:

That represents a total projection of almost 1,700 deaths in WA (with lots of variance, could be anywhere from 500 to 3500) which, while still so sad... could have been looking so much worse.  Our state is projected to be short by 100 ICU beds... rather than 1,000 or 10,000.  While the absolute number may take 3-4 weeks to peak, the rate of increase has already headed downward, so signs are pointing towards our social distance efforts working, as noted in yesterday's New York Times feature Coronavirus Slowdown in Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working.  Let's keep it up!  It's working, but as Governor Inslee said, “It would be grossly irresponsible to stop these measures now.”

Even more local, King County has a new zip-code level dashboard:

As of today there have been 211 tests, 40 positive results, and 7 deaths for our zip code of 98177. At a little over 20,000 people in the zip code, that's 1-in-100 that have been tested, 1-in-500 positive results, and... it's hard to trust a "rate" on pretty small numbers.  Overall... it's around here, but not as prevalent as Kirkland or a few other spots.  We have >500 people in North Crown Hill, so who knows, we might have a case.  I don't personally know of a resident testing positive yet, but I have heard a few 1st-degree connections already.

Masks for All

The standard governmental position has been to not recommend facial/respiratory masks for the public.  The Twitter hashtag #masks4all has been brewing for weeks, though, as smart people analyze the scientific studies, but in the last few days more major media have joined the groundswell against the self-contradictory "Masks don't work! ... So save them for heath care workers!" messaging.  The scientific evidence is fairly clear that masks, of any kind, do help.  Not perfectly - but better than nothing!  There are rumors that the CDC will soon reverse it's official position.

Don't hold them back from health care workers, by any means - but if you can make some out of household materials for yourself, go for it!  You can make your own from cotton pillowcases, t-shirts, or other fabrics, using a sewing machine and a bit of cardboard. My wife made me one of those:

While not the same effectiveness as surgical masks, they help stop "micro-droplets" like you can see highlighted here.  There are several patterns floating around - if you want to talk mask-making, start a conversation in our Slack chat!  Personally, I think widespread mask usage will be a crucial part of lifting the lockdowns, allowing more social interactions while helping us keep the R0 spread-level below 1.

Groceries, Takeout, & the Virus

What if someone coughs on your grocery delivery? Or your mail, or your takeout food?  First, I want to recognize that being able to worry about what's coming into our house is a privilege - not all of us can isolate ourselves, or work from home, or afford delivery.  But I've seen a lot of stress and viral videos on the subject, with some contradictions and disagreements...

I'll pass along a good short primer on surfaces and precautions, and a comprehensive guide that both do a good job.  Your level of precautions is a personal choice, informed by your vulnerability level and risk estimates.  At my house, we're sanitizing plastic and cardboard packaging, leaving papers/mail alone for a day, and rinsing vegetables thoroughly with water.  We've ordered takeout, while discarding the packaging and reheating the food.  I have no "right" answer, sorry - nor do I think there is one correct answer for everyone.

The Meta

Despite reaching 100 emails, I've only talked with 1/3 of North Crown Hill households so far.  I'm beginning a 7-week sabbatical from my tech job in order to focus on this project, so I hope to make rapid outreach progress in the next couple weeks.  That said, if you are willing to talk to a few of your closest neighbors, let me know and I'll wing you a few house numbers!

Has your work/job been impacted by Covid-19?  I'd love to listen and understand your situation, whether privately at or shared in the neighborhood chat room.

Until next week (roughly),