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Seattle Parks reopens playgrounds, fitness equipment, but kids will have to wait their turn


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Good news for those with stir-crazy kids: Seattle Parks and Recreation is reopening 150 outdoor play areas to the public with new safety guidelines Tuesday.

The play areas closed in March when the novel coronavirus first hit the region as they were considered “high touch” areas that could easily spread the virus. But with new research showing that the virus is unlikely to spread through surfaces, the city’s parks have gotten the green light to reopen with new rules in place to limit transmission.


To keep swings, climbers and slides safe, play equipment will be limited to five or fewer children at any one time. In accordance with the statewide mask mandate, all children above the age of two will be required to wear a mask although there are some exceptions.



To maintain social distancing and occupancy requirements, the department is asking parents to visit parks at less busy times and only stay for 30 minutes or less to give others the opportunity to play. Green Lake, Seward, Magnuson, Discovery, Lincoln, Gas Works, Carkeek and Jefferson Park are some of the more popular play areas in the city and may be busier during weekends.


“We are all in this together, so kindly remind others of the guidelines and find a different activity if the play area gets too crowded,” Seattle Parks wrote in its blog. “We cannot allow play areas to be places where COVID-19 is spread, so we need folks to use these spaces safely.”

Cal Anderson’s playground will remain closed as the park has not officially reopened in the wake of summer protests.


Those who have canceled their gym membership in the past months are also in luck as outdoor fitness equipment at all Seattle parks reopened Tuesday. The equipment follows similar guidelines to play areas, including limiting use to five or fewer people at any one time and requiring masks.

The department also emphasized that play areas and fitness equipment are not regularly sanitized or cleaned and all users should wash or sanitize hands before and

Pandemic AVR: Making Patients Wait May Do More Harm Than Good

Recent cardiac events suffered by patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis (AS) could be tied to whether their hospitals expedited aortic valve replacement (AVR) in select cases or paused these procedures in response to COVID-19, two reports suggested.

In the first, a Swiss hospital showed success selecting patients for expedited AVR despite safety concerns during the pandemic, whereas a New York City center that pushed these procedures back for everyone had a substantial number of patients subsequently die or require urgent transcatheter AVR (TAVR) while waiting, the second found.

Both reports were published online in JAMA Network Open.

“Taken together, these studies provide useful guidance. First, as we have known for many years, symptomatic AS is a life-threatening condition, and its treatment cannot be considered elective in any way. Patients with the most echocardiographically severe stenosis, clinically advanced symptoms, or comorbid coronary artery disease or lung disease belong at the head of the line,” according to Thoralf Sundt, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Whether one chooses to interpret the current state of the pandemic as an ongoing first wave — perhaps with a nadir in some regions — or as the quiet before a second wave, there is a clear need for tools permitting precise triage of patients by the urgency with which procedures should be performed,” he emphasized in an accompanying editorial.

Selective AVR in Switzerland

Certain people with critical AS were good candidates for expedited AVR during a nationwide ban on elective procedures, according to the prospective AS DEFER study.

A cohort of 71 patients referred for AVR from March 20 to April 26, a period when Switzerland banned elective procedures in all hospitals, were divided into two treatment groups according to a prespecified algorithm:

  • Expedited (n=25): Patients with critical AS (i.e., aortic valve area ≤0.6 cm2, transvalvular mean gradient ≥60 mm Hg, cardiac decompensation during the previous 3 months, or exercise intolerance with clinical symptoms on minimal exertion) who underwent TAVR at a mean 10 days after referral
  • Deferred (n=46): Patients with a larger aortic valve area and stable symptoms

Adverse cardiac outcomes were not statistically more likely for either group at an average 31 days after treatment allocation: the composite endpoint of all-cause mortality, disabling and nondisabling stroke, and unplanned hospitalization for valve-related symptoms or worsening heart failure reached 4.0% of the expedited group versus 19.6% of those deferred (log rank P=0.08), reported Thomas Pilgrim, MD, MSc, of Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, and colleagues.

Hospitalizations were more likely in the deferred AVR arm than the expedited arm (19.6% vs 0.%, P=0.02) and accounted for all the primary outcome events in the former. No patient died.

Among deferred AVR patients, those who wound up requiring hospitalization for valve-related symptoms or worsening heart failure had more commonly presented with multivalvular disease (44.4% vs 8.6%, P=0.02), suggesting that this group in particular may benefit from expedited AVR, Pilgrim’s group said.

“I cannot tell if the authors considered