COVID-19 daily report for Mountlake Terrace and Snohomish County: March 19, 2020

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. This has been updated March 20 at 8 a.m. to include reformatted charts with explanations for easier viewing and understanding.

Snohomish Health District update

In addition to providing daily countywide cumulative numbers of COVID-19 cases as noted in our chart above, the health district website now includes cases by city. We’ve created a chart for that as well:

 

You can review all the numbers yourself at this Snohomish Health District link.

And we are sharing with permission the link to a COVID-19 statistics website created by local resident John Rumpelein, using worldwide data provided by Johns Hopkins.

Links to our latest coverage

Transit, ferries taking extra cleaning precautions amid COVID-19 outbreak

Community Transit implementing free fares, new boarding procedures after four drivers test positive for COVID-19

Goodwill, TJ Maxx and related stores announce temporary closures

Snohomish County Superior Court suspends criminal, civil jury trials

Area grocery stores adapting to COVID-19 challenges

Directory of Mountlake Terrace restaurants offering takeout, delivery

Snohomish Health District update

What if I or someone I know has COVID-19?

This scanning electron microscope image shows 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes the coronavirus, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. (Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease)

If you are tested for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and your results come back positive, it may be a scary and stressful time. The same is true for people who are close contacts or a confirmed case or people who experience symptoms of COVID-19.

Most people who become ill with COVID-19 will recover with rest and care. It is important to monitor your symptoms and follow guidance from your health care provider, as well as avoid exposing other people to the illness. People who are ill with more severe symptoms may be hospitalized for care. Those who do not have severe illness should isolate at home to make sure our hospitals have the ability to respond to more critical cases.

We want to talk more about what to do if you have symptoms, have a positive test, are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, or are the supervisor of an employee who has COVID-19.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing. The severity of symptoms can vary from one person to another. Most COVID-19 illnesses are not severe, but the illness can be serious and potentially fatal, particularly for high-risk populations like people 60 and older, people with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems, or pregnant women.

If you develop symptoms but have not been in close contact with a confirmed case, stay home and away from others. Contact your medical provider by phone or online.

Not everyone who is ill needs to be tested for COVID-19, particularly people who have mild illness, are younger than 60, are otherwise healthy, and do not work in a health care setting, public safety, critical infrastructure, or live in an institutional or congregate setting such as a long-term care facility. Most people can isolate and recover at home. However, your medical provider may want to monitor your symptoms or test you for something else, like influenza. Keep in mind that, while we and other partners are working to expand COVID-19 testing options, capacity remains limited.

If you have been notified that you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and you experience symptoms, you should act as though you, too, have a confirmed case. Contact your medical provider by phone or online for guidance on your personal care.

See the following section for more information on what you should do.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19 or if I am a close contact of a confirmed case and start having symptoms?

Stay home except to get medical care. You should only call 911 or go to a hospital or clinic if you need urgent care. Otherwise, tele-health is the best option.

Separate yourself from other people or animals in your home. Try to use a separate bedroom and bathroom from others in the household. When that is not possible (such as if you need to share a bathroom), wear a medical face mask when you are in a shared space and make sure shared areas are being cleaned and sanitized frequently.

Rest and get plenty of fluids and healthy food. Take all of the steps you would to recover from other respiratory illnesses. There is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, though research and trials are in progress. Your medical provider may have additional guidance or steps to take based on your specific symptoms and health history. Remember to contact your medical provider by phone or online rather than going in person to avoid exposing others.

Always follow steps to help reduce the spread of illness:

  • Wash hands often with warm water and soap, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like doorknobs, counters or remotes. When using disinfectants, follow instructions on the product label.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away and wash hands. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
  • Stay home and avoid close contact with others.
  • Avoid sharing personal or household items like cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding.

Monitor your symptoms. Notify your medical provider as soon as possible if they worsen. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the dispatcher that you have or may have COVID-19. If possible, put on a medical face mask before emergency responders arrive.

How long do I need to be isolated?

If you have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 and are caring for yourself at home, make sure you continue to self-isolate until:

  • Your fever (if you have one) has been gone for three full days (72 hours) without the use of fever-reducing medications AND your other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) have improved

OR

  • Three full days (72 hours) after your symptoms (if you did not have a fever) have improved

OR

  • Seven days after symptom onset; whichever is longer.
What if I’m not sick but someone in my household is?

If you live with someone who has COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19, it is crucial that you take steps to limit the spread of illness and care for your own health, as well.

The person in the household who is ill should follow all of the guidance above. Support them in doing this. Encourage them to maintain distance and self-isolate. Help with cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in shared areas of the household. Ensure that shared spaces have good airflow by opening a window or using an air conditioner. Wash laundry and dishes thoroughly.

The CDC has guidance for cleaning and disinfecting in households with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.

If there is a medical emergency and you call 911, tell the dispatcher that someone in the household has COVID-19.

Don’t invite or allow visitors who do not absolutely need to be there. Care for pets so the person who is ill does not. Don’t share household items like eating utensils, bedding or towels.

Monitor yourself for symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing. Call your health care provider as soon as possible if you develop symptoms, and make sure to explain not only your symptoms but also your exposure to a confirmed or suspect case.

What if an employee I supervise tells me they have COVID-19?

Take them at their word. If an employee is ill, you do not want them at the workplace. Even employees who are well should be working remotely if it is possible for them to do so.

The Snohomish Health District is contacting confirmed cases and providing a letter they can share with close contacts. However, an employee may hear of a positive test result from their medical provider before the Health District has had time to complete its disease investigation and provide that letter. Employers should not require an employee to show a letter to prove that they have COVID-19.

If an employee notifies you that they have COVID-19, ensure that you continue following all cleaning and disinfecting procedures. The CDC has environmental cleaning and disinfection guidance for facilities where there has been a suspected or confirmed case.

People who have confirmed cases are provided with the letter to notify close contacts. Additional internal communications to employees are at the employer’s discretion but must respect the medical privacy of the ill employee and should not include personal medical details, but rather focus on the measures being taken by the workplace to ensure health and safety.

Many workplaces already are temporarily closed due to orders from the Health Officer and the Governor that are currently in effect. More information on that is available in our last blog post, and a graphic with information is available online.

For workplaces that are continuing operations, you do not necessarily need to close if you learn of an employee who tested positive or is a close contact of a positive case. Once again, ensure that you are maintaining illness prevention measures:

  • Attendees, customers and employees that are 60 or older, have underlying medical conditions, have compromised immune systems, or are pregnant have been encouraged not to attend or enter;
  • Social distancing recommendations must be met. This means people are able to stay at least 6 feet from each other, aside from minimal and momentary contact at closer distances when absolutely necessary;
    • This includes where individuals are sitting and standing, with the exception of families and/or parents/caregivers with small children.
    • Along with the 6-foot distance, social distancing includes not shaking or holding hands; not sharing commonly used items like phones, keyboards or microphones; or other situations where hands are touching shared surfaces or objects without being sanitized between people.
  • Employees are screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic. Symptoms could include sore throat, cough or fever.
    • Employees should ensure they are fever-free and do not have symptoms like sore throat, cough or difficulty breathing before they leave home and report for work. While at work, if they develop fever (a temperature higher than 100 degrees F or subjective fever) or respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, cough, or difficulty breathing, they should immediately:
      • self-isolate (separate themselves from others)
      • notify their supervisor
      • go home and stay home until 7 days after symptom onset or 72 hours after symptoms resolve, whichever is longer
      • if symptoms persist or worsen, call their health care provider for further guidance.
    • Employers in health care settings should consider measuring employee temperatures and assessing symptoms prior to starting work. For others, relying on employee reports is acceptable in most settings.
  • Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees, customers and employees.
  • Environmental cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must be followed, including more cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces at least daily.

Closing down temporarily for additional cleaning or other measures is a business-level decision

Washington State Department of Health updates

Washington receives 8,000 additional COVID-19 test kits

  • Responding to requests for more COVID-19 testing from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services delivered 8,000 additional sample collection test kits on Thursday, along with supplies of the protective equipment needed to conduct the tests.
  • These additional resources are vital to supporting Washington’s COVID-19 response, and we thank our federal partners for their efforts.
  • The Washington State Department of Health is working to distribute the new supplies to local health agencies in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties – the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus thus far.
  • These additional test kits are intended to increase capacity for testing of high-risk populations, including elderly people, those with pre-existing conditions, and the health care providers and first responders who are caring for others during this crisis.
  • FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plan to provide additional test kits and related equipment to Washington state as these materials become available.

Statewide Testing Update

  • Even with these new federal resources, limited testing supplies continue to be a significant issue for the COVID-19 response. Here are the other actions Washington is taking to increase testing capacity:
    • The State Public Health Lab brought additional testing equipment online on March 8 and continues to increase testing capacity. As of Saturday, March 14, the lab can test more than 200 samples each day with a 48-hour turnaround time. The State Lab’s goal is to test 400 samples a day. The Centers for Disease Control recently updated its guidance to recommend testing only one sample per person, which will increase to number of people that can be tested.
    • The University of Washington Virology Lab and commercial laboratories are able to perform COVID-19 testing as well.
  • As of 3 p.m. March 19, 20,742 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 in Washington state, with 1,376 positive tests, meaning the person has the virus.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Washington state continues to work to procure additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers:
    • The Department of Health has requested and received two orders of PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile. On March 6, the federal government delivered 233,000 N-95 respirators and 200,000 surgical masks, as well as face shields, gowns and gloves. On March 12, the federal government delivered 129,000 N-95 respirators and 308,000 surgical masks, as well as face shields, gowns and gloves.
    • On March 13, the Department of Health requested an additional 64,690 N-95 respirators; 154,103 surgical masks; 29,344 face shields; and 23,925 gowns. As of March 19, this request is still awaiting approval.

Child care and frequently asked questions, like gargling and toilet paper (again!)

Child care

Many parents are trying to find child care options for their children since the Governor ordered the closure of all Washington schools to increase social distancing measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. As much as you can, please try to keep your children at home and postpone play dates for a while. If this is not possible for your family, many child care facilities remain open. We have to help child care facilities keep kids and families safe from COVID-19. We are asking child care facilities to increase social distancing and maintain their cleaning and disinfection procedures.

Frequently asked questions:

Is it true that if you gargle/deep breathe/drink water you can keep yourself from getting coronavirus?

No. We can all use a good deep breath and a drink of water right now, but there is a lot of misinformation on social media. You can find good information from the , the , and the . The best way to keep yourself and others from getting COVID-19 is to stay home as much as possible, wash your hands frequently, and don’t touch your face.

Um, I’m out of toilet paper.

Thank you for not hoarding! The short supply in the grocery stores is because we have bought too much and overstocked. Toilet paper will be back as grocery stores re-stock and we all purchase just what we need. In the meantime, use something else and then throw it in the trash. “Flushable” wipes, facial tissues, and paper towels were not designed to break down the same way as toilet paper, and they can cause blockages in treatment plants, plumbing, and septic systems. Please do not flush anything besides toilet paper and what came out of you.

Practice compassion.
COVID-19 is a worldwide pandemic. There is no part of the world that is not affected. There are people in all 50 states who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. It is now up to each of us to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

 

  1. Thank you for clarifying status counts. What does ‘under investigation’ mean or include. The rest are fairly self evident.

    1. We don’t have the answer to that. You’ll need to ask the health district. The number is on their website.

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