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Mar 12

COVID-19 Update: March 12, 2020

Posted on March 12, 2020 at 3:59 PM by Kari Bray

The situation around the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is continuing to change quickly. New measures have been put into place to help slow the transmission of this disease, and we know that they will have a significant impact on the people of Snohomish County.

It is important that people stay calm, prepared and informed, and that we all work together to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. This blog addresses updated information on schools, child cares, long-term care facilities, and events.

Schools update
Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday, March 12, that schools in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties are required to close from Tuesday, March 17, through Friday, April 24.

Prior to the order, multiple local school districts already had opted to close schools.

We know that this will have a tremendous impact on our community. 

Many schools districts had Spring Break scheduled during the closure period. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal urged students and families to treat next week as a sort of “Spring Break,” allowing time for school districts to firm up plans for continuity of education and also continuity of crucial services. 

We know that, for many students, school is their safe place. For those who are experiencing homelessness or unstable housing, these closures are particularly disruptive. Plans are being put in place to ensure that meals are still provided for students and families who need them. Questions about graduation requirements, college admissions, and exams like the SAT or ACT also are being addressed.

It is important that students and families continue to monitor communications from their local school districts.

This is also a challenge for employees who work in our school districts. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction has stated that OSPI is working on employment security plans for those affected by the closures.

While the impacts of closing schools are significant, this measure is being done to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Though school-age children are not considered a high-risk group for severe illness from the virus, they can spread the virus and they have contact with others in the community who are at high risk, including people who are 60 years of age or older, people with underlying conditions, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

Child care
With the new rules prohibiting large group gatherings and the announcement of school closures, child care providers have been inquiring as to what steps they should be taking. At this time, there is no immediate intention or direction from state authorities to mandate the closure of child care or early learning facilities. 

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, so we encourage you to continue monitoring the Snohomish Health District’s website for updates. The Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Family (DCYF) is also providing updated information, guidance and resources on its website

The Snohomish Health District on Thursday, March 12, released updated guidance from child cares, as well. That guidance is available here.

Long-term care facilities
Long-term care facilities like nursing homes or assisted living facilities are a priority in this response. We know that these facilities house people who are particularly vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19.

The District is coordinating with long-term care facilities on infection control measures and forming a team that can respond specifically to these cases. 

Governor Jay Inslee also has put in place temporary rules around long-term care facilities. Those rules are:
  • Visitors must be adults and the visit must take place in the resident’s room. This does not apply to end-of-life situations.
  • All visitors must follow COVID-19 screening and follow reasonable precautionary measures. Precautionary measures include, but are not limited to, wearing personal protective equipment, social distancing, or visiting in designated locations.
  • All visitors must sign into a visitor’s log. Owners and operators must retain that log for 30 days.
  • Employees or volunteers must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at the start of each shift.
  • People who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities and who test positive for COVID-19 must be isolated away from other people.
  • Owners, operators, staff and volunteers are prohibited from disclosing protected and confidential health information, except as otherwise provided by law or with the resident’s consent.
We understand that this can be extremely stressful for families with loved ones in long-term care facilities. The Health District has partnered with the American Red Cross to activate Safe and Well, which the Red Cross has used in disasters to help people notify their loved ones that they are OK. This online system would allow families to check in virtually on their loved ones in long-term care. 

Events and screening

On March 11, the health officer for the Snohomish Health District issued an order that prohibits events with 250 or more people and requires that events with fewer people take steps to minimize risk of spreading illness. These steps include:
  • Older adults or people with underlying conditions are encouraged not to attend.
  • Social distancing recommendations are in place. People should avoid being within 6 feet of each other for longer than momentary or minimal contact.
  • Employees are screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic.
  • Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees.
  • Environmental cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed, including more cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces at least daily.
Questions have come in regarding the third bullet point on screening employees. Employees should ensure they are fever-free and do not have symptoms like cough or difficulty breathing before they leave home and report for work. If they do not have fever or respiratory symptoms, they may report to 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 could consider measuring employee temperatures and assessing symptoms prior to starting work. For others, relying on employee reports is acceptable in most settings.

The Snohomish Health District continues to provide updates as new information is available. Please check back at for the latest. Case count information is updated daily by 2 p.m. 

Please be aware, as more testing has become available, we are getting increased numbers of reports from laboratories and other facilities. It takes time to reconcile data in order to report numbers accurately. Because there are increased numbers of cases and more data that needs to be analyzed and reconciled, we are no longer able to provide specific information about all cases as we did earlier in this outbreak.