Publisher’s note: We have created this ongoing report on information related to COVID-19 as it applies to our communities. It will be updated regularly to reflect changing information.
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Washington State Department of Health updates
Department of Health releases personal protective equipment distribution guidelines
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the entire U.S., and with Washington state being particularly hard hit, the Washington State Department of Health is publishing guidelines on how personal protective equipment (PPE) will be allocated to counties with the greatest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. This DOH guidance will help counties determine how to distribute PPE to their facilities.
Personal protective equipment is a scarce resource that is difficult to procure statewide, nationally, and internationally. The state’s prioritization list does not guarantee that every order that meets the priority criteria will be fulfilled, and it does not ensure that complete orders will be fulfilled. The DOH Secretary of Health, State Health Officer, or Unified Command may modify the criteria based on emerging response needs.
- The first tier of recipients is long-term care facilities with confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitals with the greatest number of confirmed cases, emergency medical services and first responders who are asked to transport confirmed patients, and health care workers supporting long-term care facilities with confirmed cases.
- The second tier of recipients comprises health care facilities with fewer confirmed cases, congregate locations with confirmed cases (such as jails, shelters or dormitories), other EMS services, and Department of Health-run isolation and quarantine facilities.
- The third tier of recipients is quarantine and isolation facilities run by other jurisdictions, followed by skilled nursing facilities, other health care facilities, and outpatient facilities.
- The fourth tier of recipients is homeless shelters and other congregate locations, and family members of confirmed cases who are at home.
Apart from the prioritization tiers, the guidelines take other considerations into account, as well as a recommendation that counties fulfill orders for up to seven days. Those considerations include methodology for how much protective equipment to allocate, based on the size of the facility, number of health care workers, the number of confirmed or suspected cases, or number of patients in need of assessment.
The prioritization of N95 respirators (masks) are only distributed to facilities in the first tier. Additionally they are only distributed at the highest priority to locations that perform aerosol-generating procedures.
The prioritization of personal protective equipment may evolve as this outbreak continues
A weekend at home
Let’s take some time during this quiet weekend at home to take care of ourselves and connect with our loved ones. Unplug, replenish your energy, and engage. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Dance party! Try listening to your favorite music, exploring new singers and genres, singing out loud, and dancing to the beat by yourself or with loved ones.
- Are you crafty? Would you like to be? Take out your knitting, sewing, painting, and other crafty projects! And share the love! Can you teach a friend to crochet over Skype?
- Play board games. There’s nothing like a fun board game to get us laughing and engaged. Monopoly, checkers, chess, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit. Just be sure to call an end to the fun before it devolves into a brawl.
- Walk. Take a stroll outside. Hike on your favorite nature trail. Wave to your fellow walkers from a safe distance.
- Garden. We are at a perfect time to begin to plan our gardens for the spring and summer. A vegetable garden is great exercise and, eventually, helps you eat more vegetables.
- Watch spring unfold. Of course, nature doesn’t need a garden to grow. Choose a tree or flower to watch each day as spring nears. Watch how the leaves grow and blossoms unfold. If you have children, teach them to measure the growth with a ruler, or have them take pictures.
- Read to a child. Our kids are stressed and worried. And they love you! Skype a child and read a book to them this weekend. They will love it and so will you. (Don’t forget to do the voices!)
- Practice gratitude. Thank someone who has to go to work — a health care worker, grocery store employee — anyone who is unable to stay safe at home. They are putting themselves at risk to keep us happy, fed, and healthy.