Snohomish Health District issues its own orders related to COVID-19 and smaller gatherings

Following Gov. Jay Inslee’s order Wednesday morning banning events involving more than 250 people in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, Snohomish County’s top health official Wednesday afternoon issued an order that prohibits gatherings of fewer than 250 people — “unless measures are taken by event organizers to minimize risk.”

The Snohomish Health District reported 15 new cases Wednesday, bringing the official case count total in Snohomish County to 75. In addition, two new deaths were reported, bringing the total deaths to three.

The order was issued because “COVID-19 is spreading in Snohomish County, with hundreds of cases having been reported to date,” the health district said. “We expect the case count to double every five to seven days. The public health approach is focusing on community mitigation to slow the spread of COVID-19. We are asking individuals, businesses, schools, and health care providers to take steps to help.”

Based on Gov. Inslee’s order, Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District, issued a parallel local Health Officer Order for Snohomish County to prohibit gatherings of more than 250 people, along with an order that organizers of events of fewer than 250 people must ensure that:

· Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions that are at increased risk of serious COVID-19 are encouraged not to attend (including employees);

· Social distancing recommendations must be met (i.e., limit contact of people within 6 feet from each other for 10 minutes or longer);

· Employees working at these events must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic;

· Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees; and

· Environmental cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently).

At this time, retail businesses and service operators such as grocery stores, drug stores, movie theaters, restaurants, other retail establishments may continue to provide services as long as they take steps to minimize the spread of disease, the health district said. Additional guidance is available in a newly posted blog on COVID-19 and Gatherings.

Events that are subject to this order include gatherings for business, social, spiritual, or recreational activities. This does include community, civic, public, faith-based, or sporting events, parades, concerts, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. It does not include normal school, health care facilities, or other public safety and critical infrastructure operations.

For non-essential smaller events, this is a good time to consider canceling or postponing, the health district said.

The Health Officer’s Order goes into effect March 11, 2020, and has no specified end date.


    1. Actually – that’s correct. The health district did limit gatherings of fewer than 250 unless safety precautions are taken.

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