Due to our efforts in Washington state, we have succeeded in preventing our health-care system from being overwhelmed. Despite this, COVID-19 continues to spread and will until an effective vaccine is available.

We must learn to adapt and get back to work and school, or we will suffer long-lasting consequences that affect us all, both the sick and the well. Four measures would make a difference. First, we must all wear a mask when at work, school or shopping. This is the most effective strategy for preventing the spread of a respiratory disease. Second, we should continue to ban nonessential gatherings like sporting events as these pose the greatest risk of spreading disease. Third, we must secure longterm-care facilities like nursing homes, which account for one-third of the death toll nationally. Lastly, we must pay those who are sick to stay home, so that the well can work. Unfortunately a “cold” can easily be a COVID-19 infection.

If we took it upon ourselves to stay home, even if only mildly ill, knowing we would not be penalized financially, and were tested, we could help blunt the spread of the disease.

Alex Efird, M.D., Seattle