Dear Friends & Neighbors:
As you have probably heard, King County has its first cases of novel coronavirus, and more cases have been identified in the U.S. The vast majority of the illnesses around the world are mild, with fever and cough. A much smaller percentage of cases are severe and involve pneumonia, particularly in elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions.
Sadly, nine people in our area have died. Our hearts go out to their families. It is important that we all do our part to help reduce the spread of this virus.King County has one of the best public health departments in the country, and, with the support of their King County colleagues, are working diligently to provide the best public health services possible to the nearly 2.4 million people who call King County home.
This is a quickly evolving situation. I will be sending out periodic updates moving forward. But for now, I wanted you to have the following information:
What are the symptoms?
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus:
What to do if you believe you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms?
Call your doctor do not go into a medical facility.
Your doctor will make an assessment about next steps. If it is determined that you should be screened for coronavirus, your doctor will contact Public Health to make arrangements for screening.
Take all appropriate precautions. Do not go to work if you are sick. Wash your hands often and do not touch your face.
How can I protect myself and others from novel coronavirus?
If you are traveling overseas follow the CDCs guidance: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.
Right now, the novel coronavirus has not been spreading widely in the United States, so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public.
Steps you can take to prevent spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent coronavirus:
1) 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.
2) Stay home when sick.
3) Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
4) 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.
5) Stay informed. Information is changing frequently. Check and subscribe to Public Healths website (www.kingcounty.gov/COVID) or blog (www.publichealthinsider.com).
Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.
Here is the latest information from King County, including links for more information and guidance for how to minimize risk of infection:
There are multiple illnesses associated with a nursing home and a dialysis facility. We are working closely with their leadership, staff, and families to contain and manage the situation at these facilities.
Health officials are working as rapidly as possible to identify others in the community who have been exposed, isolate them and get them tested for coronavirus.
Public Health Seattle & King County (Public Health) is fully activated through its Incident Command structure. They are in close contact with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington State Department of Health (DOH), hospitals, the Emergency Medical Services system, as well as our state and federal delegation. CDC in particular is providing close assistance, and is sending a high level team to King County to help with the response.
King County government is working under the direction of Public Health to share information, deploy resources, and respond at the maximum capacity we are able.
We have experience in responding to pandemics and our health officials have tremendous expertise and skills, but this is a very quickly-moving situation and information is changing daily.
Health officials expect there will be additional cases locally and nationally as the coronavirus spreads more broadly. Our residents should plan to stay informed and follow health guidance carefully.
Links to more information from Public Health, DOH and CDC:
The Washington State Dept. of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
Again, this is a quickly evolving situation. I will be sending out periodic updates moving forward.
Until next time,