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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 8, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Residents are encouraged to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Do so safely by staying close to home, maintaining at least six feet of distance from others who are not household members, and respecting closures or partial closures of parks, playgrounds or other outdoor venues.
The Snohomish Health District recommends residents wear a cloth face covering when it is challenging to keep a six-foot distance from others outside the home. This includes places of employment, the grocery store or food bank, running errands, or areas where more people will be around. Many businesses may begin requiring people wear a face covering before entering. This is done to protect both their employees and their customers.
Remember that wearing a face cover is not a substitute for social distancing. Continue staying home and away from others unless you are going out for essential work or errands. It’s also important to note that wearing a face cover is more about protecting others around you than it is about protecting yourself.
These face covers recommended for the general public are simple, homemade cloth covers. People should not be using personal protective equipment (PPE) like surgical or N-95 respirator masks. It is crucial that we prioritize the limited supply of PPE for our medical providers, first responders, long-term care facilities, and others whose life-saving work requires them to be in close contact with patients.
For more about their benefits and how to make one, the Health District recently published a blog: COVID-19 and Cloth Face Coverings.
As mentioned last month, there are many summer events that people have been planning for several months, as well as annual summer programs that would usually be gearing up or enrolling participants right now.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, people should not be planning for summer events the same way they normally would. This illness and the measures needed to limit its spread will require adjustments to plans, even ones that are scheduled for weeks or months in the future.
“The Governor’s phased approach for reopening Washington shows events with more than 50 people being not being allowed until Phase 4, which likely won’t happen here until mid- to late-summer,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Health District. “I encourage people to cancel or postpone events like fairs, festivals, large weddings and overnight camps.”
Groups and event planners should be cautious about making plans that extend beyond what is currently allowable. Organizers should also plan to remain flexible, as guidance may need to be revised in the coming weeks and months. They should have plans for enhanced social distancing, sanitation and hygiene measures.
More details, and suggestions of what organizers should consider, are available in the Snohomish Health District’s new blog COVID-19 and Farmers Markets, Summer Plans.
The Health District and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers had been piloting two rapid test machines recently. During the four days of operations, 145 people were tested between the two locations.
However, the rapid test machines are not meant for high volume testing. They are also not well suited for frequent repositioning between locations. Instead of utilizing the machines for community-based test sites, the Health District will move forward with drive-thru sites that utilize operations similar to the site open in March.
The Health District had previously reported that a drive-thru testing site would be available in the north end next week. Those plans have been delayed by a week to allow staff to complete needed planning to change the operation set-up slightly.
More information will be released next Friday, including location details and updated registration links. Updates and information will be available at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
Testing is one of the key elements of the long-term response COVID-19 and a crucial piece of being able to resume more business and activities. It also continues to be the topic of many questions, as well as confusion or rumors.
To help address some of that, the Health District published a blog today: COVID-19 and Testing.
Updated case counts are done daily Monday through Friday, with any changes over the weekend included in the Monday updates. The Health District will be making a few adjustments to how data is shown for long-term care facilities and testing.
Daily updates had been including a breakdown of cases and deaths at individual long-term care facilities that had more than 10 cases at its site. Starting today, daily updates will only include the roll-up under the “Type of Contact” table. Beginning next week, the Health District will publish a weekly report for more detailed analysis specific to long-term care facilities.
The other adjustment is the bar graph providing the number of COVID-19 tests completed per day in Snohomish County. Many have asked us to show the numbers for each corresponding day/bar. Adding that would make the chart too complicated and hard to read. Instead, the Health District will start providing a weekly analysis that will complement the daily bar chart. This will give the number of tests per week, total positive and total negative, along with the positivity rate.
The community is encouraged to help prevent the spread of illness and to support the response to this outbreak by staying informed and sharing reliable information. This is a very fluid situation and information will be updated at www.snohd.org/ncov2019 and the Health District’s social media channels.