November 22, 2022

Vol 4, Issue 9


A COVID-19 virus on a blue background with the words: New Omicron Subvariants

COVID-19 Updates

New omicron subvariants are causing upticks in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in some parts of the country but only 11% of people in the United States have received the bivalent booster. Is the stage set for a winter surge?

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Six holiday pumpkins of different colors seen from above.

Know your COVID-19 community level 

Vendor’s Corner

Sunsetting Curative

Delivery Tracking

Track your orders with DeliveryExpress

The More you Know

COVID-19 News

Learning & Levity

Swab and Jab Science Club 

A COVID-19 virus on a blue background with the words: New Omicron Subvariants

COVID-19 Updates

New omicron subvariants are causing upticks in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in some parts of the country but only 11% of people in the United States have received the bivalent booster. Is the stage set for a winter surge?

Here’s what to know:

Subvariants on the rise

  • Omicron subvariants B.Q.1 and B.Q.1.1 have become the dominant strains in the US, together making up almost half of all new cases
  • BA.5 still makes up about 25% of all cases in the US, according to the CDC
  • These highly transmissible subvariants (B.Q.1, B.Q.1.1, and BA.5) make up almost 75% of all new cases and are likely to cause surges this winter.

Cases and hospitalizations in Washington state

Low vaccination rates for bivalent booster

  • Only 22% of Washingtonians have received the bivalent booster which protects against omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 and may offer protection against newer variants like B.Q.1.1.
  • Even fewer children and youth have received a bivalent booster: 
      • Ages 5-11: 12%
      • Ages 12-15: 13.6%
      • Ages 16-17: 10.9%

How to prepare for a winter surge

  • Monitor your COVID-19 Community Level to determine when to institute additional mitigation strategies in school such as masking and screening testing.
  • Stock up on rapid antigen tests to anticipate higher demand for onsite testing as kids return from Thanksgiving and Winter Break.
  • Order take-home tests now to send home with students and staff before they leave for Winter Break so they have diagnostic solutions at home.
  • Read our Guidance FAQs to learn about the different requirements and recommendations around isolation included in the updated DOH guidance. 
  • DOH continues to closely monitor COVID-19 levels in our state as we approach the holiday season.

    New Translations! DOH Guidance Documents

    “Hopefully, more people will go and get their updated vaccine — the bivalent vaccine. That will mitigate a real surge and at worst we’ll get a blip versus a major surge.”

    Anthony Fauci, MD

    Chief Medical Advisor to the President

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    Get ahead of the holiday spread

    Get ahead of the spread promo for iHealth take-home tests

    Prepare for increased transmission this holiday season by making sure you order tests well ahead of Winter Break to send home with students and/or have enough on hand when students return.

    When planning your order, keep in mind when your Winter Break starts. It takes up to 10 business days from the date you receive DOH approval on your order until you receive tests. Also, please note orders placed between Dec 16th and Dec 31st will be delivered in January.

    Use the DOH order form to place your orders ASAP!

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    Know your COVID-19 community levels

    County levels for Washington state as of Thursday, November 17, 2022.

    As of Thursday, November 17, only one county, Ferry County, has a COVID-19 community level of medium, according to the CDC. 

    All other counties have a low COVID-19 community level. 

    Make sure to monitor your COVID-19 community levels to know when to use additional mitigation strategies in school such as masking and screening testing.

    • Masking and screening testing are recommended best practices when your community level is high.
    • Masking is recommended for high-risk individuals when your community level is medium or high.

      How to find your COVID-19 Community Level:

      • Scroll down until you see the “State or Territory” dropdown (Washington state should already be selected; if not, select it from the dropdown list).
      • Under the “County or metro area” dropdown, select your county. 
      • Your COVID-19 Community Level data will automatically populate below.

      How are community levels determined? 

      The CDC uses data on weekly case rates, hospitalizations, and hospital capacity (% of inpatient beds used by COVID-19 patients) to determine COVID-19 Community Levels for each county. Learn more about how the CDC calculates community levels here.

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      Sunsetting Curative

      A motion graphic of the curative logo setting in the horizon

      Curative, a testing vendor that provides PCR laboratory testing for Washington schools through Learn to Return, will end its contract with DOH on December 28, 2022. 

      Here’s what schools who use Curative need to know:

      • Curative testing supplies and laboratory services will no longer be available to schools after Wednesday, December 28, 2022.
      • Since this deadline falls over Winter Break, affected schools are encouraged to offboard Curative services by the last day of school before the break. 
      • Testing data and results for outstanding laboratory tests will be available through the Curative Drive-Thru Portal until January 6, 2023.
      • Test kits and scanners are the only items that need to be returned as part of the offboarding process. All other supplies can be kept or disposed of in the trash. 
      • Health Commons has prepared draft letters that can be used to communicate this change to your school community.
      • Your L2R Program Manager is ready to help you smoothly offboard Curative and connect with a new testing technology  on the Learn to Return Testing Menu.

      *New update added January 2023*

      Curative Test Kit Disposal + Data Inquiries

      Abbott Alinity (standard PCR) – Quantity and lot numbers should be sent to and

      Dispose of kits onsite, in municipal waste via the following instructions: 

      1. Place the unused kits in a nondescript container (like a cardboard box) 
      2. Use a Sharpie to label the boxes with the word “Unused” 
      3. Seal the container and place it into the dumpster  

      Data Inquiries or other Curative Questions in 2023? 

      Contact Curative Customer Care Team at 888-702-9642 and/or email:

      DOH and Health Commons are committed to providing your school with testing support to ensure that this change does not create any gaps in your testing program. 

      Questions? Reach out to your L2R Program Manager for next steps and/or to refresh your testing strategy.

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        Swab & Jab Science Club! 

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        Track your orders with DeliveryExpress!

        An illustration of a man tracking a package in real time

        You can now get updates on estimated delivery time for your testing supply orders through the Delivery Express tracking dashboard

        Follow the instructions below or download the DeliveryExpress tracking information guide to begin tracking your orders.

          Go to the DeliveryExpress dashboard

          Enter your Request ID or Delivery Express tracking number.

          • Your Request ID is generated when you place an order through the DOH testing supply order form and is included in your order confirmation email. 
          • Request IDs begin with “VL” and are followed by 3 to 4 digits (i.e. VL1234)
          • You will receive your Delivery Express tracking number in a shipping confirmation email from Delivery Express. 
          • Delivery Express tracking numbers begin with “DE” and are followed by 7 digits (i.e DE1234567).
          • Both your Request ID and Delivery Express tracking numbers can be used to track your shipments in the Delivery Express dashboard.

          For orders in progress, you will see the tracking number, expected delivery time, city shipped from and city to be delivered to, order history, and a progress bar.

          For orders that have already been delivered, you will see the tracking number, date and time delivery was completed.

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          COVID-19 NEWS

          Moderna says new Covid booster better against omicron BA.5, triggers immune response against BQ.1.1

          CNBC, 14 November 2022. Moderna said it also found the new booster triggered robust immune response against omicron BQ.1.1, an emerging Covid subvariant in the U.S. However, the response was not as strong against BQ.1.1 compared with BA.5. The antibody levels were about five times lower against BQ.1.1.

          How schools can avoid the worst this winter

          Politico, 15 November 2022. Authors of a study published today by the Commonwealth Fund found that if 80 percent of the eligible U.S. population got the Covid-19 bivalent booster, it could prevent nearly 51,000 pediatric hospitalizations and more than 28 million lost school days for kids ages 5 to 17 between October and March.

          New omicron subvariants now dominant in the U.S., raising fears of a winter surge

          NPR, 11 November 2022. While some preliminary studies have questioned whether the new boosters are any better than the original vaccine at protecting against omicron, others have suggested they may be. Vaccine makers Pfizer and BioNTech recently released a statement saying their new booster stimulates much higher levels of antibodies that can neutralize the BA.5 omicron subvariant than the original vaccine.

          CDC warns of tough winter as flu, RSV and covid collide

          The Washington Post, 04 November 2022. At least 4,300 influenza patients were admitted to hospitals in the week ending Oct. 29, the highest for that time period in a decade and nearly double the prior week, according to data released Friday. The flu season began six weeks early this year, at a level not seen since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.


          Increase in RSV cases plaguing Seattle hospitals

          As the Pandemic Drags On, Americans Struggle for New Balance

          The New York Times, 14 November 2022. Roughly half of Americans eligible for boosters have not gotten them, and just 10 percent have gotten the most up-to-date bivalent booster. Experts are warning that waning immunity and the arrival of new subvariants may lead to another surge of cases and hospitalizations.

          Lifting Universal Masking in Schools — Covid-19 Incidence among Students and Staff

          The New England Journal of Medicine, 09 November 2022. During the 15 weeks after the statewide masking policy was rescinded, the lifting of masking requirements was associated with an additional 44.9 cases per 1000 students and staff (95% confidence interval, 32.6 to 57.1), which corresponded to an estimated 11,901 cases and to 29.4% of the cases in all districts during that time.

          Long COVID: The Silent Pandemic

          Harvard Medicine News, 08 November 2022. Many people know that COVID can have lasting effects on the lungs and heart but are unaware that it can affect a person’s skin, muscles, joints, digestive tract, menstruation, mental health, and more. The varied nature of post-COVID conditions may represent a source of clinical confusion.

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