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King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer
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Dear Community:

Yesterday, Public Health – Seattle & King County announced new recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19. These are detailed below. Earlier today, the state announced plans to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests for residents without health insurance. Additionally, Washington health insurers must cover required COVID-19 testing and provider visits without copays or deductibles. That order is in effect through May 4th. You can find out more information here. A big reason Vice President Pence is coming to Washington State today is due to the preparation of Patty Hayes and her team at the Seattle – King County Department of Public Health, who are working around the clock to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 throughout our community.

I have been pleased to host Seattle – King County Director of Public Health Patty Hayes at multiple town hall events in Auburn and Federal Way.

As of today, they are now recommending, but not requiring, the following steps:

  • People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:

    • People 60 and older
    • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
    • People who have weakened immune systems
    • People who are pregnant

  • Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with COVID-19 and help minimize absenteeism due to illness.

  • If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.

  • Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time unless there has been a confirmed case in the school. Public Health – Seattle & King County also respects an individual school’s decisions about closures or postponement of activities as each school knows the needs of their community best.

  • All people should not go out when they are sick.

  • Avoid visiting hospitals, long-term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.

In addition to the aforementioned new recommendations, public health officials are continuing to stress the same key messages:

  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you’re a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact our novel coronavirus call center: 206-477-3977.

  • The call center will be open daily from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM PT.

  • For general concerns and questions about COVID-19, please call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127.

When to seek medical evaluation and advice:

  • If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your healthcare provider. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.

  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

There are other ways members of the public can help:

  • Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Stay home when sick.

  • Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.

  • Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system.

As your councilmember, I hope to help you and your family stay informed. During an outbreak, there is a lot of uncertainty and information is changing frequently. I hope you will take a moment to subscribe to Public Health’s email alerts. You can also frequent their blog at www.publichealthinsider.com. And you can join the effort to protect our community by sharing this information with family and friends on social media. The links below will continue to provide the most current information regarding the virus.

With best wishes,
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember

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Contact me: pete.vonreichbauer@kingcounty.gov
206-477-1007, 800-325-6165, TTY/TDD 206-296-1024
Website: www.kingcounty.gov/vonReichbauer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pete.vonreichbauer

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