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2020 BURN BAN IN EFFECT 7/1/20
WA State DOH: COVID-19 Statistics
County Offices and Community Updates

Skamania County COVID-19 cases as of 6/30/2020:
Confirmed cases: 6
Deaths: 0

 

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If you have questions regarding COVID-19 in Skamania County please utilize the website: https://www.skamaniacounty.org/departments-offices/advanced-components/covid-19-microsite. Or ask questions directly by email: COVID19questions@co.skamania.wa.us

For those requesting information on recreation in Skamania County please contact the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce: (509) 427-8911 or info@skamania.org

Guidance for Businesses and Workers  

News:

COVID-19 Update, July 2, 2020

  • Gov. Inslee press conference: strengthens facial covering requirement, pauses counties from advancing to next phase and modifies phase 3 allowances in bars
  • Extends Safe Start proclamation for one week until modifications are announced next week
  • SeaTac travel data increasing
  • Extends emergency order that waives copay and deductibles for COVID testing
  • Statewide Wi-Fi improvements

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COVID-19 Update, July 1, 2020              logo

Good afternoon! The state Department of Health (http://www.doh.wa.gov/) wants to keep you as Party like it’s 2020

If your county is in Phase 3, physically distanced gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed. If your county is in Phase 2, physically distanced gatherings of up to five people outside your household are allowed. Just because these gatherings are allowed doesn’t mean they are safe for you. Your home, away from people outside your immediate household, remains the safest place for you to be.

Here is a short list of things to remember when it comes to gathering together in the time of COVID-19:

  • Outside is safer than inside.
  • Small groups are safer than large groups.
  • Less time together is safer than more time together.

So, while a Zoom happy hour might be your safest choice, an outdoor barbecue with one other family, with the chairs set up six feet apart, where the hand sanitizer flows freely, and everyone goes home early, is a less risky option, as far as these things go.

Here are some other important ways to keep your friends and family healthy:

  • This may be your first opportunity to hang out with your friends in a while, but it isn’t your last, so if you feel sick at all—even just a little questionable—reschedule. We have weeks and weeks of sun ahead of us. If you still have a bit of a cough or other symptoms that might be related to COVID-19 the next day, call your health care provider or local health department to get tested.
  • The need to stay six feet apart will be with us through at least Phase 4, so you may as well set up your yard or gathering place to accommodate it. Arrange the chairs so they are at least six feet apart. Consider outdoor games and activities for the kids that don’t involve wrestling or blowing bubbles into each other’s faces. You generally don’t have to touch each other when you are jumping rope, playing catch, or using sidewalk chalk.
  • Think of creative ways to greet your friends and say goodbye that don’t involve close contact. Maybe an “air hug”? Or try a great big smile and an enthusiastic, “I’m not touching you, but I’m so glad to see you!”
  • And, of course, everyone needs to wash their hands for 20 seconds when they arrive, before they eat, and just before they leave. Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it any time you have been touching shared hard surfaces and before touching your face.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on June 29, there are 557,275 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 32,824 people (or 5.9%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 4,361 people had to be hospitalized, and 1,332 people (or 4.1%) have died of the disease. More COVID-19 data can be found on the DOH website and in the state’s risk assessment dashboard.

Practice compassion. Time with friends and family is precious and important for our physical and mental health. Enjoy it. And protect each other by keeping your distance, wearing a cloth face covering indoors, and keeping your hands clean.   

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Washington State COVID-19 Status Report              June 30, 2020

Inslee issues, extends proclamations related to COVID-19

Gov. Jay Inslee today issued a new proclamation in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Inslee also announced the extension of the Tribal Fuel Tax Refund Restrictions proclamation.

A June 26 letter from the Legislature extends proclamation 20-56, regarding the use of fuel tax refund monies, until July 1.

Tribal Fuel Tax Refund Restrictions Extension - 20-56.1

The original proclamation waived and suspended any and all provisions in agreements between the governor of the State of Washington and an Indian Tribe or Tribes restricting the use of fuel tax refund monies to highway- or transportation-related purposes. It went into effect on May 28 and expired June 27. It was extended by the Legislature until July 1. The Governor has requested further extension.  Read the full proclamation here.

Gov. Inslee also issued a new proclamation related to annual updates for Transportation Improvement Plans. 

Annual Updates to Transportation Improvement Plans - 20-61

This proclamation waives and suspends a statute that prevents, hinders or delays necessary action by requiring annual updates to Transportation Improvement Plans by July 1 of each year. It goes into effect today, June 30, and expires on July 30, 2020. Read the full proclamation here

DOH: County phases, climbing cases should mean altered summer travel plans for most Washingtonians

The Washington State Department of Health is encouraging people in our state to limit summer travel plans to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

First, be familiar with the Safe Start plan and how it applies to your county. Governor Jay Inslee’s initiative for a phased Safe Start plan details travel allowances for people who live in counties under different phases. Phases 2 and 3 allow more travel than Phase 1, but that’s not a green light for everyone to travel as much as they want.

“We still want people to limit their travel,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “We have places in Washington with a lot of COVID-19 activity. If there’s a lot of cross-state travel this summer, that could spread disease around the state.” She says it’s understandable that people are ready to get out and enjoy the good weather, “But Public Health is requesting that if they do travel, that they stay closer to home. If people want to travel and it’s allowed based on their phase, we don’t want people traveling across the state. Stay local.”

Just because cross-state travel is strongly discouraged, outdoor activities are still OK when done with the proper precautions. DOH is sharing tips for enjoying the outdoors safely during a COVID-19 summer:

  • Stay six feet away from other people
  • Wear a mask when you’re around others
  • Keep your social circles small
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face
  • If you’re around other people, being outdoors is better than indoors

Knowing what phase your county is in is important as many outdoor summer activities, such as pools and waterparks will not be opening before counties advance to phases 3 and 4. As for camping - it is allowed in some phases, but all camping is not equal. Camping with your immediate family is a much safer choice than camping with a large group of people.

Another concern is traveling to a state with several COVID-19 hotspots, contracting the virus, and then bringing it home. Says Dr. Lofy, “We are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 activity in many states and increased cases here in Washington. It’s incredibly important that everyone does their part to slow down transmission by limiting or changing travel plans.”

 “Travel that includes sightseeing and dining out can increase the spread of the disease. If everyone goes about their lives as normal this summer we will likely see a resurgence of cases and may need to close down businesses again which we don’t want to do,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “So we want to see people stay close to home.”

Counties

Phase

Specific Guidance

 

Benton, Chelan*, Douglas*, Franklin, Yakima

 

*Modified Phase 1

 

1

 

 

Essential Business Guidance

Many parts of the economy are already allowed to operate safely as essential businesses. For a list of essential businesses clickhere.

*Modified Phase 1 Guidance

Adams, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grant, Jefferson, Kitsap, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Walla Walla,

Whatcom

 

 

2

Phase 2Business Activity Guidelines

Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whitman

3

Phase 3Business Activity Guidelines

COVID-19 Proclamations:

Tribal Fuel Tax Refund Restrictions Extension - 20-56.1

The original proclamation waived and suspended any and all provisions in agreements between the governor of the State of Washington and an Indian Tribe or Tribes restricting the use of fuel tax refund monies to highway- or transportation-related purposes. It went into effect on May 28 and expired June 27. It was extended by the Legislature until July 1. The Governor has requested further extension.  Read the full proclamation here.

Annual Updates to Transportation Improvement Plans - 20-61

This proclamation waives and suspends a statute that prevents, hinders or delays necessary action by requiring annual updates to Transportation Improvement Plans by July 1 of each year. It goes into effect today, June 30, and expires on July 30, 2020. Read the full proclamation here

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News Release - English

For immediate release:June 30, 2020(20-118)

Contact:Lisa Stromme Warren, Communications,360-628-7883

County phases, climbing cases should mean altered summer travel plans for most Washingtonians

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health is encouraging people in our state to limit summer travel plans to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

First, be familiar with the Safe Start plan and how it applies to your county. Governor Jay Inslee’s initiative for a phased Safe Start plan details travel allowances for people who live in counties under different phases. Phases 2 and 3 allow more travel than Phase 1, but that’s not a green light for everyone to travel as much as they want.

“We still want people to limit their travel,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “We have places in Washington with a lot of COVID-19 activity. If there’s a lot of cross-state travel this summer, that could spread disease around the state.” She says it’s understandable that people are ready to get out and enjoy the good weather, “But Public Health is requesting that if they do travel, that they stay closer to home. If people want to travel and it’s allowed based on their phase, we don’t want people traveling across the state. Stay local.”

Just because cross-state travel is strongly discouraged, outdoor activities are still OK when done with the proper precautions. DOH is sharing tips for enjoying the outdoors safely during a COVID-19 summer:

  • Stay six feet away from other people
  • Wear a mask when you’re around others
  • Keep your social circles small
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face
  • If you’re around other people, being outdoors is better than indoors

Knowing what phase your county is in is important as many outdoor summer activities, such as pools and waterparks will not be opening before counties advance to phases 3 and 4. As for camping - it is allowed in some phases, but all camping is not equal. Camping with your immediate family is a much safer choice than camping with a large group of people.

Another concern is traveling to a state with several COVID-19 hotspots, contracting the virus, and then bringing it home. Says Dr. Lofy, “We are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 activity in many states and increased cases here in Washington. It’s incredibly important that everyone does their part to slow down transmission by limiting or changing travel plans.”

“Travel that includes sightseeing and dining out can increase the spread of the disease. If everyone goes about their lives as normal this summer we will likelysee a resurgence of cases and may need to close down businesses again which we don’t want to do,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “So we want to see people stay close to home.”

The DOHwebsite is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog,Public Health Connection.


Visit the DOH Newsroomfor all news releases.
Subscribe to get news releases in Spanish.You will continue to receive the English version.
Washington State Department of Health is your source for a healthy dose of information.

 
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Washington State COVID-19 Status Report            June 29, 2020

June 29 Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee Hearing: Impact of COVID-19 on Behavioral Health

Inslee and Wiesman announce pause on county progressions to Phase 4

Gov. Jay Inslee and Sec. John Wiesman announced over the weekend the Washington State Department of Health is putting a pause on counties moving to Phase 4 though the “Safe Start” phased approach. Rising cases across the state and concerns about continued spread of the COVID virus have made Phase 4, which would essentially mean no restrictions, impossible at this time. Eight counties were eligible to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 before the pause. 

 

"Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state," Inslee said. "We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data." 

"The best thing Washingtonians can do to slow the spread of the virus and save lives is to wear facial coverings, continue to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices," Wiesman said. "Now that testing supplies are available, it is critical to get a test if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19."

Wiesman sent a letter to local and tribal health leaders throughout the state on Saturday. The letter states:

"Dear Local and Tribal Health Leaders,

"I am writing to let you know Governor Inslee and I have decided to pause progression to Phase 4 statewide. 

"We decided to prohibit any counties from moving into phase 4 at this time due to increasing COVID-19 activity across the state and significant rebounds in COVID-19 activity in several other states. The changes between Phase 3 and Phase 4, especially with regards to gathering size and occupancy rates, could further increase the spread of COVID-19 in our state, even in communities that have very low rates of disease. The progress we’ve made thus far is at risk, therefore we are making the prudent choice to slow down our phased approach to reopening.

"In the next couple of weeks, I will work with Governor Inslee and his team to assess the need for a modified approach for moving beyond Phase 3. I will communicate that decision to you when we have more information. Counties that are currently able to apply to move from Phase 1 or 2 are still able to apply when eligible.

"Thank you for your continued work to protect the health of Washingtonians during this unprecedented time."

Counties

Phase

Specific Guidance

 

Benton, Chelan*, Douglas*, Franklin, Yakima

 

*Modified Phase 1

 

1

 

 

Essential Business Guidance

Many parts of the economy are already allowed to operate safely as essential businesses. For a list of essential businesses clickhere.

*Modified Phase 1 Guidance

Adams, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grant, Jefferson, Kitsap, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Walla Walla,

Whatcom

 

 

2

Phase 2Business Activity Guidelines

Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whitman

3

Phase 3Business Activity Guidelines

 

New COVID-19 Proclamations:

n/a

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COVID-19 Update June 28, 2020  logo

Just because you can doesn’t mean you need to

There’s still work to do

The spread of COVID-19 is increasing across the state — both in Eastern Washington and throughout the Puget Sound region. You can see the details in the latest statewide situation report.

So why are we continuing to reopen? Because so far, we still have room in most of our hospitals. Hospital capacity is one of the key pieces of information we monitor closely on the state’s risk assessment dashboard when deciding what phase a county can move to. We definitely don’t want to get to a point where there are more sick people in the state than our health care system can provide good care for.

Of course, just because there is room for you in the hospital doesn’t mean you want to go there. To keep you and your family safe, it is just as important as ever to keep up your vigilance against COVID-19: stay home when you can, limit the number of people you hang out with, and stay six feet away from them! Keep your hands clean — wash them often, and put hand sanitizer by your mask to remind you to take it with you when you go out. Then wear your mask and use that hand sanitizer frequently when you are in public and touching things.

As more businesses open, we have more choices about what we are feeling ready to do. We all have different ideas about what is too risky. Allow your friends some space if they are not ready for play dates or in-person gatherings yet. We don’t always know what people are struggling with. They may have a chronic health condition you don’t know about or maybe they are trying to protect a vulnerable family member or maybe gathering right now feels like too much risk and they are not comfortable with it.

Take your time coming back to public life. We are still safest at home, limiting our contact with people who don’t live with us. As your county reopens, return carefully to the activities you love when you feel ready, but wait a bit longer on the things that are less important to you. If you can go to the gym in your county, and that is a priority for you, great! But then maybe decide to let your hair grow and keep getting take out instead of going to restaurants for a while. Can’t bear to let your hair grow? Cool. Get your haircut. But only slowly unveil the look to folks in very small, physically distanced gatherings.

Practice compassion. We’ll be greeting our friends without hugs and high fives for a while. Remember to say with words what we can’t say with touch: “I love you.” “I’m so glad to see you.” “I’ve missed you.”

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COVID-19 Update June 27, 2020       logo

Free masks!

State supplies masks to eligible residents

Do you need a mask? There are masks in every color and even some printed with awesome graphics available online, but they are not exactly free. Maybe you can sew well enough to make your own amazing masks, but, well, not all of us are gifted with that amount of talent or patience. In a pinch, a couple layers of any cloth wrapped around your nose and mouth will do, but a couple of dedicated masks can really make things easier. And since we are covering our faces to save lives, let’s just make it as easy as possible!

Washington state has purchased 3.6 million cloth face masks to provide two masks to every person in Washington below 200% of the federal poverty level (which means, for example, a family of four earning $52,400 or less). We have already sent 2.8 million masks to local emergency management programs, who are working with various community organizations and service providers to deliver them to people who need them.

Masks will be available through your local public health department and other community organizations. Watch locally for news about how masks are being distributed in your area.

While you are at it, throw away any masks you might have that don’t stay on your face right or have holes in them. More information about face coverings is available on the state’s COVID-19 website.

Mask are safe for most people, but some people with certain health or medical conditions cannot wear them safely. There are several exemptions in the statewide order to wear masks. If you’re unable to wear a face covering, just don’t. You don’t need to explain your condition to anyone, and you don’t need a fake “mask exemption card” like we’ve seen circulating on social media. If a business won’t allow you to enter their office or store without a face mask, ask them about curbside pick-up, delivery, or virtual meeting options.

And remember, when it comes to COVID-19, even after you have your masks, you are still safest in your home. When you venture out, do so only when you are feeling well, make sure you have your face covered in public places, stay at least six feet away from other people, and use plenty of hand sanitizer.

Practice compassion. If you can sew masks, you can participate in the Lt. Governor’s Mask Challenge!

Follow these instructions to make a minimum of 10 masks: https://www.ltgov.wa.gov/how-to-make-a-mask. Then fill in the form on the Lt. Governor’s web page to let them know you have masks available. They will give you instructions for sending your masks to an organization that needs them. See the Lt. Governor’s page for details: https://www.ltgov.wa.gov/mask-challenge

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Inslee

Inslee and Wiesman announce pause on county progressions to Phase 4

June 27, 2020 

Gov. Jay Inslee and Sec. John Wiesman announced today the Washington State Department of Health is putting a pause on counties moving to Phase 4 though the “Safe Start” phased approach. Rising cases across the state and concerns about continued spread of the COVID virus have made Phase 4, which would essentially mean no restrictions, impossible at this time. 

Eight counties were eligible to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 before the pause. 

"Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state," Inslee said. "We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data." 

"The best thing Washingtonians can do to slow the spread of the virus and save lives is to wear facial coverings, continue to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices," Wiesman said. "Now that testing supplies are available, it is critical to get a test if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19."

Wiesman sent a letter to local and tribal health leaders throughout the state on Saturday.

The letter states:

"Dear Local and Tribal Health Leaders,

I am writing to let you know Governor Inslee and I have decided to pause progression to Phase 4 statewide. We decided to prohibit any counties from moving into phase 4 at this time due to increasing COVID-19 activity across the state and significant rebounds in COVID-19 activity in several other states. The changes between Phase 3 and Phase 4, especially with regards to gathering size and occupancy rates, could further increase the spread of COVID-19 in our state, even in communities that have very low rates of disease. The progress we’ve made thus far is at risk, therefore we are making the prudent choice to slow down our phased approach to reopening. In the next couple of weeks, I will work with Governor Inslee and his team to assess the need for a modified approach for moving beyond Phase 3. I will communicate that decision to you when we have more information. Counties that are currently able to apply to move from Phase 1 or 2 are still able to apply when eligible. Thank you for your continued work to protect the health of Washingtonians during this unprecedented time."

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COVID-19 Update June 26, 2020    logo

Top Ten Reasons to Wear a Mask

10. So the kids can go back to school. The best way to keep the kids safe at school is to make sure the level of COVID-19 in your community is very low. Wear a mask to make sure your community can keep your kids healthy at school.

9. So small businesses can open and stay open. The quickest way to open our economy is to control the virus. As more of our counties move to Phase 2 and 3, and more people are out and about, we need to make sure we keep the virus from spreading. Wear a cloth face covering to protect our businesses.

8. To be a leader in the community. Set a great example for others in your community. Take care of others and show them how it’s done.

7. Because it’s rude to make other people sick. You wouldn’t cough on someone or sneeze in their face. Now we have a new germ that can be spread to others when we talk or sing or breathe. Cover your face to keep your germs to yourself!

6. To show essential workers how much we appreciate them. Our essential workers have taken the risk to continue to go to work to keep us fed and to keep the services we all rely on running. Thank them by protecting their health by covering your face.

5. To express yourself. Make other people smile behind their masks! Some masks have slogans and other messages printed on them. Use your mask to express your freedom of speech and promote what you care about. Or, write your name on it — keep people from wondering who you are.

4. To leave the house. You know, at all. To go get your haircut. To see your friends and family.

3. To support your cause. Many non-profits are selling masks to raise money for a charity, and some will even match your mask purchase by donating masks to people who need them. Support your local school, human rights, environmental protection, access to health care, or any number of causes you support on your mask.

2. To save money on lipstick. Or cover a pimple. Or maybe because I haven’t had my upper lip waxed in months. Whatever. I have my reasons.

1. It literally saves lives. Fewer people will die if we all wear our masks. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

Need more reasons? Check out the Department of Health website and the Governor’s coronavirus page.

Practice compassion If you see someone not wearing their mask, just respectfully leave them alone. Some people have medical reasons not to wear a mask.

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COVID-19 Update June 25, 2020 

 

      

    

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COVID-19 Update June 25, 2020         logo

Cloth Face Coverings: Frequently Asked Questions

Yesterday the Secretary of Health announced a public health order requiring us to wear face coverings in public. This requirement starts on Friday, June 26. We have updated information on the Department of Health website and on the Governor’s coronavirus page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a face covering?

A couple layers of any piece of cloth will do. In public settings you could use a scarf or bandana or a sewn mask with ties or straps that go around your head or behind your ears. More protective coverings may be required in your workplace.

Why do we need to wear face coverings?

As we reopen the state, we are seeing an increase in the number of people getting COVID-19. To continue reopening and at the same time keep people from getting COVID-19, we must take additional preventive actions. The emerging science on face coverings indicates that they are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 if we wear them consistently. And “consistently” means that all of us — even if we feel healthy — need to wear a cloth face covering in public places.

Who needs to wear a face covering?

The order requires us to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces such as stores, restaurants or offices, or when outdoors and unable to maintain six feet of distance between people. Some counties may choose to adopt stricter policies.

There are exemptions, including for people with certain disabilities or health conditions, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and children under the age of five. There are also situations when you can remove your face covering, such as when seated at a restaurant or when recreating alone.

Also, you do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are only with people in your own household — in your own home or car, for example — or when you are outdoors and people are all far apart from one another.

Do I need to wear a cloth face covering at work?

Employees are required to wear face coverings at work, unless you are working alone. See the Department of Labor & Industries COVID-19 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements for more information.

Will my child need to wear a face covering to school?

Teachers, visitors, volunteers and students will all be required to wear face coverings in school. Students may remove their face coverings if they are outside, like during recess or physical education.

What about child care?

Children and youth age five years or older must wear cloth face coverings at child care, preschool, or day camp when indoors. Children under age two should not wear face coverings. If your child is between two and four years old, try to encourage them to wear a cloth face covering, but they are not required to by this order.

Practice compassion- The quickest way to open the state is to control the virus. Wear a cloth face covering to help your community business open up!

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COVID-19 Update June 24, 2020           logo

Cloth Face Coverings

On June 23, Washington state Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced an order that mandates the use of cloth face coverings in most public areas. The order takes effect June 26.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) provides information to help the public understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, protect their communities and comply with the order for face coverings. Additional rules from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) apply to employers and employees.

Resources and information for employers and employees

Additional resources for the public

How to make a face covering

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I see someone not wearing a face covering? 

Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your face covering and stay six feet away.  

When do I not have to wear a face covering? 

You do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are in your own home or in your car, if you are only with people in your own household. You also do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are exercising outdoors and you have plenty of space. It’s a good idea to keep one in your pocket, though, in case you come across other people you can’t stay six feet away from. And some people may have health conditions or circumstances that make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous.

I don’t want to make or buy a face covering. Are there other options? 

Cloth face coverings do not need to be complicated or expensive. Save medical masks and respirators for health care workers and others in high-risk settings. Easy alternative are to use a scarf or any breathable, washable fabric, and wrap it around your face so that a couple layers of fabric are completely covering your mouth and nose.

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News Release - English

 

 

For immediate release: June 24, 2020  (20-112)

Contact: Jessica Baggett, Communications, 360-789-0058

Thurston County approved to move to Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan

OLYMPIA -- Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved Thurston County to move to Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

A total of three counties are in Phase 1, two counties are in a modified version of Phase 1, 17 counties are in Phase 2 and 17 counties are in Phase 3. To view which counties are in each phase of the Safe Start plan, visit our website.

Kitsap County has applied to move from Phase 2 to Phase 3, and Cowlitz and Walla Walla counties have applied to move from Phase 2 to a modified version of Phase 3. Benton and Franklin counties have applied to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, and their applications are currently on pause. The department is working with local officials to discuss next steps.

Businesses approved to move into a new phase must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.

On May 29, Governor Jay Inslee, in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health, established a data-driven approach to reopen Washington and modify social and recreational activities while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Washington will move through the phased reopening county-by-county, allowing for flexibility and local control to address COVID-19 activity geographically.

This approach reduces the risk of COVID-19 to Washington’s most vulnerable populations and preserves capacity in our health care system, while safely opening up businesses and resuming gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation. The plan allows counties and the secretary of health to holistically review COVID-19 activity and the ability for the county to respond when determining if a county is ready to move into a new phase.

To apply to move to the next phase, counties must submit an application to the Washington State Department of Health. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health and the county executive or county commission.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The metric goals for moving between phases are intended to be applied as targets, not hardline measures. Where one target is not fully achieved, actions taken with a different target may offset a county’s overall risk. Some of the metrics the secretary of health will evaluate in addition to other information provided by counties include:

  • COVID-19 activity: The ideal target for new cases will be 25 or fewer per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. Hospitalizations for COVID should be flat or decreasing.
  • Healthcare system readiness: The available hospital beds in a given jurisdiction would preferably be at less than 80% occupancy.
  • Testing: Counties should show they have adequate testing capacity, 50 times as many people per day as they have confirmed new cases per day – which equates to positive test results under 2%. They also need to show rapid turnaround time for test results, ensuring that we can work effectively to contain the virus.
  • Case and contact investigations: The goal is to contact 90 percent of cases by phone or in person within 24 hours of receipt of a positive lab test result. There is also a goal of reaching all that person’s contacts within 48 hours of a positive test result. Additionally, there are goals to make contact with each case and contact during their home isolation or quarantine to help ensure their success.
  • Protecting high-risk populations: The ideal number of outbreaks reported by week – defined as two or more non-household cases where transmission occurred at work, in congregate living, or in an institutional setting – is zero for counties under 75,000, and no higher than three for our largest counties.
  • Additional information is available in the governor's plan.

Requests to move into the next phase are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plan as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the secretary of health can modify the current phase or move the county back into an earlier phase. A county can also identify when they need to return to an earlier phase or eliminate approved activities.

Learn more about reopening and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Individuals can also find COVID-19 information on the Department of Health’s website or call 1-800-525-0127. Individuals can text the word “coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on their phone wherever they are.

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COVID-19 Update, June 24, 2020     logo

Myths and Facts about Cloth Face Coverings

The Secretary of Health announced a public health order requiring us to wear face coverings in public. This requirement starts on Friday, June 26. The emerging science on face coverings indicates that they are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 if we wear them consistently. And “consistently” means that all of us — even if we feel healthy — need to wear a cloth face covering in public places. 

We’re going to be covering our faces for a while. Gather up the good masks and make sure they are clean or put them in the washing machine. Throw away the ones that fall off your face or itch or you otherwise don’t like. Remember, in a pinch, a couple layers of any cloth will do. Now let’s sort through some myths and facts about cloth face coverings:

Myth: I feel great! I don’t need to wear a mask.

Fact: Do you know how it feels to have COVID-19 and not have any symptoms? It feels great! Having COVID-19 and having no symptoms feels the same as feeling “healthy” or “normal.” The difference is, with COVID-19, you feel great and can make other people very sick. The decision to wear a cloth face covering isn’t about how well you might feel — it’s about all of us working together to keep the whole community healthy.

Myth: If we wear masks, we don’t have to worry about social distance anymore!

Fact: We are wearing cloth face coverings to help us keep our breath, and the potentially infections droplets it contains, to ourselves. Face coverings are just one way to do that, and they work even better if you are also standing six feet away from other people. Physical distancing, hand washing, staying home if we are sick, and getting tested for COVID-19 even if we have just mild symptoms are all important basic things we still need to do, even if we cover our faces.

Myth: If you wear a mask for too long your oxygen levels will go down/you’ll breathe too much carbon dioxide.

Fact: Cloth face coverings are by no means air tight. Your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels will be fine. Your face covering may feel irritatingly hard to breathe through, though. You are most likely getting enough air, but switch to a different face covering if you find the one you are using physically hard to breathe through. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or have trouble breathing, sit down and remove your face covering. If it continues, call 911.

Myth: Wearing a mask can weaken your immune system.

Fact: The idea behind this myth is more or less that the mask will insulate you from all germs, and your immune system will get used to not having any germs to fight and get weaker. That’s not exactly how immune systems work, and it’s definitely not how masks work. A cloth face covering does a better job at helping you keep your germs to yourself than it does protecting you from other people’s germs. (Remember? My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.) We do think that wearing a mask will probably protect you a little bit from some respiratory germs that you might otherwise breathe in, but not any of the germs you get exposed to by eating or drinking or petting the dog, or playing outside, or going to the bathroom. Wear the mask. You will still get exposed to plenty of germs, and your immune system will be fine.

Myth: Wearing a mask can cause bacterial lung infections.

Fact: Your body has lots of ways to protect you if you breathe in bacteria, and there is no evidence that wearing a mask can make you sick. You could get a skin irritation or rash, so it’s certainly a good idea to keep your face covering clean and dry, and keep your face clean and well moisturized. If you have found a particular face covering irritating, consider whether you may react to the soap you used to wash it or the particular type of fabric. To prevent skin irritations or acne, you may want to avoid wearing makeup underneath your mask. Switch to a different face covering if the one you are wearing gets damp.

Get your information from credible sources like these:

https://doh.wa.gov/masks

https://coronavirus.wa.gov/information-for/you-and-your-family/face-masks-or-cloth-face-covering

Practice compassion. We cover our faces to protect other people. We could still have COVID-19 even if we feel well. It’s our responsibility to protect others from what we don’t know is in our breath.

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 Daily Bulletin from Joint Information Center - Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19) - State Emergency Operations Center, Camp Murray

Update on face coverings

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Contact:

Joint Information Center
253-512-7100
wajic@mil.wa.gov

Good afternoon –

Today, Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced a statewide order that will go in effect on June 26 requiring use of face coverings. The governor's office has not yet issued a press release but you can view the press conference on TVW.

The order requires individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces such as stores, restaurants or offices, or when outdoors and unable to maintain 6 feet of distance.

There are exemptions, including people with certain disabilities or health conditions, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and children under the age of 5 (though it's encouraged to have children ages 3-5 wear a covering if possible). There are also situations when you can remove your face covering, such as when seated at a restaurant or when recreating alone.

Individual do not need to wear a cloth face covering in their home when they are only with people in their household, when alone in their car, or when outdoors and people are far apart.

Counties may choose to adopt stricter policies.

DOH has issued updated guidance about the order, and below is an FAQ prepared by the governor’s office. The face covering page on the state’s COVID-19 site is also being updated. Additional information is available here: www.doh.wa.gov/masks.

FAQ – Face Coverings

What is a face covering?

A cloth face covering is anything from a scarf or bandana to a sewn mask with ties or straps that go around your head or behind your ears. These types of face coverings are appropriate in public settings, although more protective coverings, such as masks or respirators may be required in the workplace.

Where does the statewide requirement apply?

In indoor public settings, including:

  • Inside any building, including any business, that is open to the public;
  • In healthcare settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank; and
  • While in line waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle.

In outdoor public settings, including the following, if six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained with individuals who do not share a household:

  • Public parks, trails, streets, and recreation areas;

What about at work?

In the workplace, employees are required to wear face coverings at work, as required by the Department of Labor & Industries Coronavirus Hazard Considerations for Employers. Workplace health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 are adopted and enforced by the Department of Labor & Industries. See the Department of Labor & Industries COVID-19 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements for more information.

What about K-12 schools?

In schools, teachers, visitors, volunteers and students are required to wear face coverings consistent with the Governor’s Proclamation 20-09.2 Phased Reopening of K-12 Schools, the K-12 Schools Summer Guidance and K-12 Fall 2020-2021 Guidance, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s  Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide.

What about colleges and dorms?

We are working on finalizing guidance for higher education institutions. Face coverings will be required in common areas, including cafeterias except while eating. Face coverings will not be required in closed dorm rooms.

What about physical and behavioral health facilities, and long-term care facilities?

DOH’s public health order is focused on areas that are generally accessible to the public. Right now, many of these facilities remain closed to visitors. Staff at these facilities are required to wear face coverings consistent with L&I’s Safety and Health requirements. For residents, patients, and visitors, face covering requirements will be determined by the medical director of medical facilities. For residents and visitors to long-term care facilities, we are currently working with the providers on formalizing a Safe Start Restart Plan for these facilities.

What about child care?

Children and youth age five years or older must wear cloth face coverings at child care, preschool, or day camp when indoors. Children age two to four years may wear cloth face coverings.

What about correctional facilities?

DOH’s public health order is focused on areas that are generally accessible to the public. Staff at correctional facilities are required to wear face coverings consistent with L&I’s Safety and Health requirements. The Department of Corrections is requiring and providing face coverings for incarcerated individuals in state facilities. We believe everyone should be wearing face coverings and this is the expectation in correctional settings including jails and juvenile correctional facilities.

What about the Governor’s Proclamation for Yakima County?

In addition to the statewide order from Secretary Wiesman, Gov. Inslee’s proclamation creates additional requirements for Yakima County. Businesses in Yakima County may not serve anyone who enters their business without a facial covering. This requirement will be subject to enforcement under the Department of Labor & Industries’ Workplace Health and Safety requirements.

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COVID-19 Update, June 23, 2020         logo

The Science of Masks

It seems like everyone is talking about masks. But how much do we really know about how much a cloth face covering can protect us from COVID-19? So much more than before!

Prior to this pandemic, there wasn’t a whole lot of research going on into the benefit of wearing cloth face coverings to prevent COVID-19, which, of course, we didn’t even know about until six months ago. Some researchers compared countries that promoted face masks as part of their early response to COVID-19 to countries, like the US, that did not. The countries that promoted face masks ended up with fewer cases than the countries that did not. Research is continuing, and we’re still learning more, but here’s what the science is telling us now:

  • COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not know they have it (yet).
  • Having COVID-19 and not having any symptoms feels the same as feeling “healthy” or “normal.” The difference is, with COVID-19, you are contagious.
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is likely spread by droplets that you exhale when you are normally breathing, as well as when you are talking, singing, coughing or sneezing. These droplets can float in the air and infect people who are near you.
  • These droplets are more likely to reach other people if you are within 6 feet in an indoor space with poor ventilation.
  • A cloth face covering helps you keep your breath, and those droplets, to yourself. You are even more likely to keep all those droplets to yourself if you are also standing six feet away from other people. And it works even better if the people around you are also wearing cloth face coverings.
  • Researchers reviewed the scientific literature looking at the effectiveness of surgical masks and cloth face coverings. They found that the masks and cloth face coverings were effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19—if we wear them! The biggest limitation in their effectiveness was inconsistent mask use.

This means that people who feel healthy need to wear a cloth face covering in public places—especially indoors—and stay at least six feet away from other people.

And, no, wearing a cloth face covering is not at all likely to restrict your oxygen or make you breathe too much carbon dioxide or affect your immune system. If you feel dizzy or light headed, or have trouble breathing, sit down and remove your mask. If it continues, call 911.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on June 21, there are 477,204 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 28,870 people (or 6.0%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 4,062 people had to be hospitalized, and 1,276 people (or 4.4%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. “Everyone shall wear a mask. Those who are not doing so are not showing their independence—they are only showing their indifference for the lives of others.” Sydney Morning Herald, February 3, 1919. Even before the modern research, people understood that wearing a mask is an act of compassion for others.

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WA State COVID-19 Status Report,  June 22, 2020

Additional guidance for weddings and funerals

On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced additional clarification today for non-religious

weddings and funeral or memorial services in Phases 1, 2 and 3. This comes as more counties move forward under Washington’s Safe Start recovery plan.

The memorandum further clarifies the guidance for religious and faith based organizations released on Thursday, June 18.

Find the full memo here.

ESD ALERT: June 24 - July 2 claims center phone service restrictions

Employment Sec

urity is restricting inbound calls to our claims center June 24 - July 2. This will allow claims agents to focus on outbound calling to resolve complex issues for customers who have been waiting the longest for their benefits and free up staff time to process claims with simpler issues. 

Customers will still be able to:

  • Apply for benefits and submit weekly claims

    online.
  • Use the automated telephone system to apply for benefits and submit weekly claims by calling 800-318-6022.
  • Call our questions hotline at 833-572-8400 for answers to general unemployment questions that are not available on our website. Customer service reps at this number cannot answer questions about specific claims. 

Limiting incoming calls for one week will allow us to make fast progress toward our goal of getting all benefits to all eligible applicants. It is also our hope that this phone service prioritization will increase the chance of reaching us for those who must apply by phone because they don’t have internet or because they need an interpreter.”

Inslee to Mandate Facial Coverings in Yakima County

Gov. Jay Inslee will mandate wearing facial coverings in public spaces in Yakima County to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, he announced during a virtual press conference Saturday. The order will go into effect early next week.

“This is a legal requirement, it is not just a suggestion,” Inslee said. “That is required if we are going to prevent this disaster from overtaking this beautiful valley.” Businesses will also be legally required not to sell or give services to customers who do not comply with the order, Inslee said. “That essentially means no mask, no service, and no mask, no goods,” he said. Inslee pointed to several statistics to illustrate what he called a “desperate situation” in the county.

Yakima County has the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 cases in the western United States, and had reported 5,915 confirmed cases and 131 deaths as of Friday. The county has the second-most cases in the state behind King County (9,061), which is far more populated, accounting for 29.6% of the state’s residents.

Yakima County also has the third-most COVID-19 deaths in the state — behind King (600) and Snohomish (162) — and accounts for 10.4% of COVID-19 deaths statewide while representing only 3.3% of the state’s population.

The county also accounts for 22% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, and has 19% of its hospital beds occupied by patients with the virus compared to the statewide percentage of 2.5, Inslee said.

The Yakima-Herald Republic wrote Friday about how Virginia Mason Memorial and other hospitals in the county have exceeded staffing capacity. Virginia Mason Memorial had no beds available — intensive care or non-intensive care — available Thursday night, despite transferring more than 17 patients out of the county, the report says.

Inslee said ICU patients are being transferred to Seattle due to lack of capacity.

He said without “dramatic” measures the cases in Yakima County could double in the next two weeks. Inslee said he continues to work with local leaders on other measures to help slow the spread, such as additional testing and making sure contact tracing and isolation practices are adequate.

“We don’t want to see people in parking lots unable to get hospital care, and if we do not act aggressively now that is what’s going to happen,” Inslee said. “This is happening. While I hear some voices saying this is overblown, the facts are otherwise and the desperation faced by families who shortly will be having trouble getting health care is clear.”

Counties

Phase

Specific Guidance

 

Benton, Chelan*, Douglas*, Franklin, Yakima

 

*Modified Phase 1

 

1

 

 

Essential Business Guidance

Many parts of the economy are already allowed to operate safely as essential businesses. For a list of essential businesses clickhere.

*Modified Phase 1 Guidance

Adams, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grant, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla,

Whatcom

 

 

2

Phase 2Business Activity Guidelines

Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whitman

3

Phase 3Business Activity Guidelines

New COVID-19 Proclamations:

Shared Work – 20-58 

This proclamation waives/suspends the statute that requires shared work benefits to be paid by employers, thereby allowing federal CARES Act funding to be used to pay for the employer portion of shared work benefits. The proclamation will expire on July 19. 

Temporary Licensing – Dental and Pharmacy Graduates – 20-59 

Due to the impact of COVID on the inability of recent dental, dental hygiene, and pharmacy graduates to meet statutory licensing requirements, this proclamation allows dental hygiene and pharmacy graduates to obtain a temporary license if certain conditions are met. The proclamation will expire on July 19. 

Department of Licensing – License and Permit Renewal Extension - 20-41.5 

The new waiver added here suspends part of the law that requires those seeking instructional permits from having to sign a form “before a person authorized to administer oaths.”  Instead, now DOL will be able to do an online attestation and not have to meet in-person. The proclamation was extended by approval from the Legislature to July 1. 

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COVID-19 Update, June 22, 2020       logo

Going back to work

As we reopen more businesses throughout the state, more of us are going back to work. As we do, you may have some questions about work and COVID-19. We did. So we worked with our friends at the Department of Labor & Industries to explore what types of occupations and industries people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 in Washington worked in. You can see what we found in this report:

The highest number of COVID-19 cases in Washington is among people who work in health care and social assistance. The manufacturing industry has the second highest number of cases. This includes traditional manufacturing businesses as well as food processing facilities. It’s important to note that while the risk for contracting COVID-19 may be higher for people depending on their industry or occupation, this report reflects where people work, not where or how they were infected.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is my employer keeping me safe?

When you go to work, you have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Your employer is required to make sure you can stay six feet away from others as much as possible, to frequently clean and sanitize the workplace, and make sure you are able to wash your hands frequently.

Employers must follow this guidance:

In addition, as a part of the Safe Start program, the governor has guidance for specific industries as they reopen.

I do not believe my employer is following this guidance.

The first thing you should do is talk to your employer about this and try to resolve the issue with them. If that doesn’t work, you have two options to report possible safety violations:

  • Violations of the Governor’s proclamation, including essential businesses not following social distancing requirements, can be reported online.
  • Workplace safety complaints about coronavirus or other issues can be filed by calling L&I directly at 800–423–7233.

And if you think you have been retaliated against for filing a complaint, or for bringing up safety concerns to your employer, you can file a complaint.

If I got COVID-19 at work, could I file a workers compensation claim?

Under certain circumstances, yes. Claims from health care workers and first responders for exposure to coronavirus will be allowed. Other claims that meet certain criteria for exposure will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For a claim to be accepted, there must be a documented or probable work-related exposure, and an employee/employer relationship.

Do I need to wear a mask at work?

Yes. Most employees must wear a face mask or a cloth facial covering at work. Exceptions include when you are working alone, or if you are Deaf or hard of hearing or communicate with someone who needs to see your face and mouth to understand what you are saying. Your employer is required to provide a facial covering or mask. The Department of Labor & Industries has more information in these guides: Coronavirus Facial Covering and Mask RequirementsWhich Mask for Which Task

Practice compassion. As you are visiting our newly reopened businesses, be respectful of the employees’ right to protect their health by wearing your cloth face mask in these public settings.

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COVID-19 Update, June 21, 2020

 

Skamania County does not have 2 additional COVID-19 cases. The DOH reporting system reported the location mistakenly and it is in the process of being corrected.

 

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COVID-19 Update, June 21, 2020         logo

Why I do equity work 

Story by Lydia Guy-Ortiz, Department of Health program manager within the Office of Disease Control and Health Statistics

This is the weekend of June 19, or Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, which is significant to me as a descendant of slaves but is also the anniversary of the killing of my Uncle William Banner, Jr. by a deputy sheriff in Lynwood, Washington. He died June 19, 1979, over 40 years ago.

  • He was a Black man.
  • He was unarmed.
  • He was 30 years old.
  • He was 6 foot 2 inches and 180 lbs.
  • He had a dark complexion.
  • He was a Vietnam vet.
  • He was mentally ill.
  • He was great mechanic.
  • He was my mother’s favorite brother.

He was my uncle and he was completely ordinary in both his death and his life.

I was 12 when he died and it changed my world. One of my core memories was riding in the back of the limo at his funeral and seeing a mass of Black people as we approached the church. They were angry and grieving and they were mourning what he represented. To my left and my right were two motorcycle officers tasked with keeping our family safe, and it was surreal. There was a lawsuit that was settled out of court, there was newspaper coverage, but what I took away from that experience was profound confusion, sadness and anger, and a commitment to make this better, somehow.

At the same time, I was preparing to go to high school and my local high school was Inglewood High School, which was located in Southcentral Los Angeles at the beginning of the “crack epidemic” and subsequent “war on drugs.” My middle school counselor approached me knowing my family situation and suggested that I had an alternative — St. Bernard High School. A private high school located in Playa del Rey, the beach of kings. It was five miles away but a complete world away. I went to high school. I continued on to University of California, Santa Barbara, on another beautiful campus. These educational opportunities gave me the skill set necessary to do the work I do today professionally.

In my formative years, I attempted to reconcile these two worlds to understand why inequity exists, why my blackness causes fear, and what the systems that perpetuate these inequities are. I wanted to understand the world in which I live, in which we all live. I have worked on a variety of health issues in a variety of positions, trying to make sense of this world. For the past seven years, I have worked as a bureaucrat and program administrator and have had the opportunity to continue to answer these questions and apply a public health lens to my work.

Three years ago, my stepbrother Irving Guy died, and he died of complications due to HIV. My brother was diagnosed as HIV positive and I had my first occurrence of breast cancer in our late twenties. My family celebrated me with pink ribbons and praised me for surviving. My family never spoke in public of my brother’s HIV status and chastised him for his poor life choices.

  • He was a Black man.
  • He was 52 years old.
  • He was 6 foot 4 inches and 200 lbs.
  • He had one leg; the other was amputated as result of a motorcycle accident.
  • He had a dark complexion.
  • He struggled with addiction.
  • He was more a “grasshopper” than an ant.
  • He could tell a great story.
  • He used his charm to put people at ease.

He was my stepbrother and he was completely ordinary in both his death and his life.

In August 2019, my Uncle Phillip Banner died from of massive heart attack. He refused to go to the doctor because of previous negative interactions and lack of faith in the health care system, and he died on his living room floor in front of his 11-year-old son.

  • He was a Black man.
  • He was 61 years old.
  • He was 6 foot 2 inches and 220 lbs.
  • He owned his own business.
  • He was hypertensive.
  • He was more like my brother than my uncle.
  • He took me out to my first bar.
  • He knew exactly how to “push my buttons.”
  • He restored classic cars.

He was my uncle and he was completely ordinary in both his death and his life.

Therefore, from my perspective, it is a multitude of systems that we need to impact. It is multi-faceted and complex and needs an intersectional approach. It’s work I am compelled to do on a professional and personal level.

I have a daughter and a son. She is nine and he is 12, the same age as Tamir Rice when he was killed. As we have stayed home to stay healthy, he has reached the milestone of becoming taller than me, more a man than a boy becomes. Sometimes, I cry when I cannot be with him. I implore him to stay safe knowing that it is an unreasonable request.

His name is Gabriel Ortiz.

He will be a Black man.

Working for equity and optimal health for all

At Department of Health, we understand that the public’s health is greatly impacted by inequity and racism embedded in our systems. Our agency’s vision is to achieve equity and optimal health for all Washingtonians. We are committed to fairness and justice to ensure equitable access to services, programs, opportunities, and information for all. And we know this work is ongoing. We have room to improve and still have a lot of work ahead of us to protect and improve the health of all people in Washington state. Learn more about health equity in Washington state.

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COVID-19 Update, June 21, 2020        logo

First Father’s Day

 If there’s anything more nerve-wracking than bringing home a brand new baby, it’s bringing home a brand new baby in the middle of a pandemic. Even in non-pandemic times, many parents feel anxious after welcoming a new baby. If your plans changed or you or your partner were separated from your baby because of COVID-19, you may feel especially down or worried.

We have lots of resources here to help new parents: Pregnancy, Birth, and Caring for your Newborn but you may still want to talk to a trusted friend, community member, or mental health professional about your experience.

If you or your partner have COVID-19 when you and your baby go home from the hospital, you may need to take precautions to prevent passing it to your baby.

We have some resources to help here:

If you or your partner have COVID-19, talk to your health care team about how to care for your baby while keeping them safe. Discuss your options and make a decision that feels right to you. You may be able to care for your baby if you wear a mask or cloth face covering and are sure to wash your hands before touching the baby. It may be better for you to stay in a different room and have someone who is not sick care for your baby until you are no longer able to pass COVID-19 to other people. Your health care provider will help you know when you can safely snuggle the baby again.

This Father’s Day, take a minute to take care of yourself. Get some exercise. Take some time for yourself. And when you have an opportunity, connect with other new parents. Being able to check in with people going through the same stage of parenting as you are can help keep you grounded, give you great tips, and remind you that you are not alone.

Practice compassion. Babies cry. Sometimes because they are hungry or tired and sometimes just because they are babies. Sometimes babies keep crying no matter what you do to soothe them. This is frustrating for everyone. Do your best to stay calm, and don’t be afraid to put the baby down in a safe place and take a moment to calm yourself or find someone else to take a turn in baby soothing.

More information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week. Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week. Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

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COVID Update, June 20, 2020           logo

Summer Fun

It’s summer and it’s time to go outside! The good news is, when it comes to COVID-19, just about anything you can come up with to do outside is going to be lower risk than a gathering indoors.

Still, keep that cloth face covering with your outdoor gear. There’s a lot of people looking forward to being outside, and if you end up along a trail or in a park where you can’t consistently stay more than six feet away from people — or if “nature calls” and you need to go inside for a minute — put that cloth face covering on.

As you are considering your plans for the summer, the keys to COVID-free summer fun are:

  • Outside is lower risk than inside.
  • Small gatherings are lower risk than large gatherings.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands, and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer within easy reach. Like next to the sunscreen and bug spray.

Let’s think about how that applies to common summer activities.

Picnics

A small backyard BBQ with another family with the blankets or lawn chairs placed six feet apart is a relatively low risk summer activity. It is lower risk than a neighborhood potluck with a lot of people, and it is lower risk than having friends over for a sit down dinner inside your house. Everybody wash your hands before you eat!

Camping

Well, if you are going to go backpacking in the wilderness, far away from everyone else, you don’t have much to worry about COVID-wise. There’s still, you know, bears. If you will be camping where you can pretty much still see your car, try to find a campground that provides lots of space for each campsite so you have lots of room to spread out. When you use the facilities, put your cloth face covering on, and try not to touch anything after you have washed your hands.

Playgrounds

Many playgrounds have been roped off by city parks departments. When they re-open, the trick will be making sure your kids are staying about six feet away from other kids. The hazard is really about close contact, not the surfaces of the playground equipment. Let the kids slide and climb and swing when the playground is not very crowded. Otherwise bring a ball for them to chase or bikes to ride.

Playing with Water

The virus that causes COVID-19 is not known to spread through water. So, the hazard of community pools is, again, the potential close contact with other people. Kayaking, or swimming outdoors with fewer people around (but never alone!) is a low risk activity, as far as COVID-19 is concerned. Sprinklers and water balloons are great within the household, but if you invite others to join the fun, be sure everyone is staying at least six feet away from each other.

Practice compassion. Everyone’s risk tolerance is different. In counties that are in Phase 2, small gatherings with fewer than five people outside your household are allowable, but that doesn’t mean everyone is ready! Be patient with your friends who need or want to stay home and stay healthy a bit longer.

More information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at
1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week. Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week. Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

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June 19, 2020

#WearAMaskWA 

Learn more at: https://restart.us/wearamaskwa/

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COVID-19 Update, June 19, 2020          logo

Juneteenth 2020: The odyssey continues 

Editorial by Washington Department of Health employee U. James Chaney, MPA, MA, BA, Executive Director within the Health Systems Quality Assurance office

The Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in the United States became effective January 1, 1863. On June 19, 1865 — nearly two and a half years later — slaves in Texas learned they too were free. The proclamation of freedom was met with celebrations within the Black community and resistant hostility by former slave owners. Although there are differing accounts of what took place in Texas in the aftermath of Gen. Granger’s announcement, 155 years later, Juneteenth remains a day of celebration. And, in 2020, a day of reflection.

Since the abolishment of slavery, Blacks have been on an American journey — an odyssey. The history of this journey is recounted in early literature, history books, and various newspapers. These sources of information reflect the views of those in power. However, biographies and the lived experience of Black Americans suggest different truths. Truths that continue to challenge the narrative of equality and question the values associated with public and private institutions within American society.

In the 1960s, the United States was at the pinnacle of the civil rights movement. America came face-to-face with the realities of racism and inequalities of segregation. Newspapers and media outlets documented the confrontation between those in the fight for equality and those embracing segregation and opposed to granting Blacks their constitutional rights. Although President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, inequity endures. And Black Americans continue to move forward on the journey toward true equality and recognition as Americans.

Currently, emotions are very high in the United States. This as the world attempts to combat an indiscriminate virus and as America addresses discriminate practices associated with inequity. Actor Will Smith, suggested racism is not new, it’s just now being recorded. So far in 2020, three recordings have generated divisive conversations in America: a young black man killed taking a jog, a black birder accused of threatening the life of a Caucasian woman, and once again, a black man’s last breath was recorded for the world to see.

Although there are differing views of each situation, there continues to be an outcry for equity and justice. An outcry in times past that was ignored; however, in 2020 is stronger and can no longer be silenced.

As differing odysseys continue, we all must understand that authentic change goes beyond eloquent words of solidarity. Change begins from the inside, with honest reflection, and an understanding of one’s own values. And, it is followed by unpretentious acts of humanity and humility. I am reminded of the words of a known democrat, segregationist, and former governor of Alabama — George C. Wallace. Considered by civil rights activists as one of the most dangerous racists in America, the late governor said, “I have learned what suffering means. In a way that was impossible, I think I can understand something of the pain black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain, and I can only ask your forgiveness.” Introspection, personal reflection, and humility that transcends disingenuous eloquent statements of solidarity with the cause.

Working for equity and optimal health for all

At Department of Health, we understand that the public’s health is greatly impacted by inequity and racism embedded in our systems. Our agency’s vision is to achieve equity and optimal health for all Washingtonians. We are committed to fairness and justice to ensure equitable access to services, programs, opportunities, and information for all. And we know this work is ongoing. We have room to improve and still have a lot of work ahead of us to protect and improve the health of all people in Washington state. Learn more about health equity in Washington state.

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COVID-19 Update, June 18, 2020      logo

Wildfire Season and COVID-19

With summer, comes the risk of wildfire. And with wildfires, come smoke. Wildfire smoke can cause symptoms that range from the annoying — eye, nose, and throat irritation — to the dangerous — wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Wildfire smoke is especially harmful for children, pregnant women, and people who are over 65. And if you already have a heart or lung condition like asthma or COVID-19, breathing in wildfire smoke can make it worse.

Breathing in wildfire smoke can also weaken your immune system, which might make you more likely to get COVID-19 if you get exposed to it. It may be difficult to tell the difference between a cough that is related to wildfire smoke and one due to COVID-19. Severe symptoms, like wheezing or shortness of breath, are worth a call to your health care provider, no matter what the cause. If you have a fever, achiness, or suddenly can’t smell the wildfire smoke anymore when everyone else still can, call your health care provider to ask for a COVID-19 test.

Keep smoke out of your home

Take steps now to get your home ready to keep smoke out and have better indoor air quality.

  • You can do this by improving filtration and creating a clean air room in your home. If you create a homemade box fan air filter, never leave it unattended. Left alone, it is a fire hazard.
  • When the air quality is poor, don’t add to indoor air pollution by burning candles or incense, or smoking inside.
  • Close windows and doors when it’s smoky outside but open windows and let in fresh air when there’s better air quality outside.
  • Wear your cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19, but don’t think it is protecting you from the smoke. It keeps droplets from spreading, but lets dangerous microscopic smoke particles right in.
  • If you live in an area where you might have to evacuate because of fire, as you prepare your emergency kits, be sure to add cloth face coverings and hand sanitizer to your bag.
  • Stay informed about wildfire smoke on the Washington Smoke Information blog and your local clean air agency’s website.
  • For more information to protect your health visit our Smoke from Fires webpage.

Practice compassion. It’s #SmokeReady2020 week in Washington. Are you and your neighbors prepared for wildfire season? Learn how to protect your home from wildfires, and how to make sure you don’t accidentally start one in the first place.

More information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week. Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week. Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

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news release

June 18, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee announces updated religious and faith-based servicesguidance

Gov. Jay Inslee announced updated health guidance for religious and faith-based services today as more counties move forward under Washington’s Safe Start recovery plan.

Phase 3 would permit indoor capacity of 50% or 400 people, whichever is less. Health requirements for social distancing and facial coverings will remain the same as the guidance for previous phases.

For services taking place in modified Phase 1 and Phase 2 counties, indoor services at 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. In health guidance for services taking place in Phase 1 counties, only outdoor services are permitted, with no more than 100 attendees.

Find the full guidance document here.

Full list of current reopening guidance.


 

Phase 2- 3 documents can be accessed at this web site: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-workers

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COVID-19 Update, June 17, 2020        logo

Everyone Has a Story

COVID-19 is not Berdelle Christiansen’s first pandemic. When she was five years old, she and her mom and dad, her 11-year-old sister, her 9-year-old brother, and her 2-year-old sister were a few of the 500 million people who caught the 1918 flu.

Berdelle and her family lived in a small wooden house in South Dakota. The three girls slept in one bedroom and shared a bed. Her brother slept on a couch in the living room. The family used coal for heat and cooking, lit oil lamps for light, and waded through snow drifts to get to their outhouse in the winter.

In 1918, the whole family came down with the flu. Berdelle’s mother, Olive, took care of all of them. There were no good treatments for this flu. The little boy got very sick, and for a while, they did not think he would live. But, with rest, prayers, and his mother’s TLC he recovered.

Then Berdelle’s mother came down with the flu herself, and just a couple of days later, she died. A neighbor came by and dressed Berdelle and her youngest sister in their church dresses and put them back to bed. Berdelle watched several men carrying her mother’s body out of the house. Berdelle doesn’t know if her mother had a funeral. If she did, all of the kids were still too sick to go.

Today, Berdelle is 106 ½ years old, and lives in Tumwater, WA with her daughter. She told us, “My entire life I have missed my mother. I’ve always felt like I have a huge hole in my heart. I still think of her often and wonder about her.” Berdelle has hazy memories of her mother. She remembers her piano. She remembers watching her knead bread. She remembers riding in a horse-drawn buggy with her. She remembers her auburn hair and how very loving she was. 

Life was difficult for Berdelle and her family after her mother died. Her father developed arthritis and struggled to keep up the family farm. Her brother dropped out of grade school to help their father plant and harvest the crops and take care of the farm animals. Berdelle told us, “I learned to read, and reading sort of saved my life.” She graduated from high school and two years of teachers college, and then taught school for several years in a one-room school.

“After my mother died, it was like she had never lived,” Berdelle told us. “No one, including my father, ever mentioned her name or memories of her again. I remember wondering why no one ever talked about her.”

Berdelle met her husband at a barn dance. She went with him to Seattle, and they started their lives together there. Eventually, they moved to Lake Quinault, where she continued to teach school and Head Start. Berdelle and her husband had five children. She taught her kids about the 1918 flu pandemic.

Sandy, at 70, is the baby of the family. She and her siblings grew up hearing stories about the pandemic and the terrible impact it had on her mother’s life. Sandy feels fortunate that she heard these stories. The 1918 pandemic was devastating for millions of families, but many families just didn’t talk about it. Sandy said, “I guess it was so terrible everyone wanted to forget about it.”

Sandy told us hearing her mother’s stories helped her be more aware of the way colds and flus spread. She remembers when she was working, and one person would come in sick, and then a couple of days later someone else was sick. “You could just watch it move from person to person down the line of cubes! It was so plain!”

Hardly a day goes by that Berdelle doesn’t think of her mother and the losses from the 1918 flu. Berdelle hopes that we will remember and talk about the people who died of COVID-19. “I do feel sorry for the families who have lost a loved one, especially if small children are left without a mother or father,” she said. COVID-19 is familiar territory for people who grew up with the specter of pandemic flu. Sandy told us, “One thing that absolutely astounds me is that people don’t take it seriously.” Berdelle sees her family now just from a distance. Sandy said, “We’re just trying to be so, so careful.”

Practice compassion

We all have a story. Listen to stories. Learn from our painful past. What will your COVID-19 story be? We have already lost more than 1,200 people in Washington to COVID-19. Take care of each other by wearing cloth face coverings, staying at least six feet away from others, and washing your hands frequently.

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Washington State COVID-19 Status Report

June 15, 2020 

New Report Shows Increasing COVID-19 Activity in Washington State

On June 13th the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report, which shows COVID-19 transmission continued to increase in eastern Washington as of the end of May, with a possible uptick in western Washington as well. There are still significant differences in transmission from county to county.

The situation in eastern Washington is of greatest concern, particularly in Benton, Franklin, Spokane and Yakima counties. The report estimates cases and deaths in these counties will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at current levels. By population, these counties are in a comparable position to King County at its peak in March. They may require similar efforts to expand hospital capacity and testing, protect the people at highest risk and increase physical distancing.

“The trends we’re seeing point to the critical importance of actions we can all take, like staying six feet apart and wearing cloth face coverings whenever we’re in public, as well as a need for increased response in these harder-hit areas,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer at DOH. “We’re working closely with the Governor’s Office, local officials and partners to identify additional ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in these regions. Every single person in our state can and must do their part to help by following public health recommendations.”

While case counts had been trending flat in western Washington, small increases are now being observed. State and local officials will continue to monitor the region carefully to determine whether the slight increase in COVID-19 transmission shown in the report continues to grow. Report findings include possible transmission increases over Memorial Day weekend but would not include increases that may have occurred following recent protests.  The report also includes a new measure called Progress to Zero for each county, which shows how far cases have declined from the peak level of activity. This measure varies considerably across the state, with some counties showing large decreases and other counties that have not yet reached a peak number of cases.

Inslee statement on new report on COVID-19 activity increasing in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement this past weekend after the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released the latest statewide situation report.

“Washingtonians have done the hard work to flatten the curve on COVID-19 and we know this has been tremendously difficult for families, businesses and communities over the past few months. But today’s report shows us there is still reason for strong concern in parts of our state. The report estimates cases and deaths will soon increase substantially if COVID-19 continues to spread at current levels.

“The cases in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties are of particular concern. I joined the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) this morning as they shared data with leaders in these three counties. This data will force us to look for some creative solutions and strengthen our strong local - state partnerships to address the disease activity.

“To continue tackling this virus, we must increase testing and mask-wearing, and maintain physical distancing and hospital capacity, as well as target interventions for high-risk populations such as long-term care facilities and indoors, including close proximity workplace operations, such as food processing and agricultural housing.

“This is not the time to give up on efforts to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. We are still in the middle of a pandemic that is continuing to infect and kill Washingtonians."

Counties

Phase

Specific Guidance

 

Benton, Chelan*, Douglas*, Franklin, King*, Yakima

 

*Modified Phase 1

 

1

 

 

Essential Business Guidance

Many parts of the economy are already allowed to operate safely as essential businesses. For a list of essential businesses clickhere.

 

*Modified Phase 1 Guidance

 

Adams, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis (pending phase 3 application under review), Mason, Okanogan, Pacific (pending phase 3 application under review), Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla,

Whatcom

 

 

2

Phase 2Business Activity Guidelines

 

Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whitman

3

Phase 3 Business Activity Guidelines

 

New COVID-19 Proclamations

n/a

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COVID-19 Update, June 15, 2020           logo

Stop the spread by staying local

 As counties are reopening and the weather warms up, it’s a good time to check out a local park or camping area. But don’t get too far out of town — COVID-19 is spreading at different rates in different counties. We don’t want people traveling across county lines and bringing the virus with them or taking it back home.

Be prepared and mostly self-sufficient when you set out for your local park or camping trip. Since many towns and businesses are not open, or not open to their typical capacity, it may not be as easy as you remember to pick up a jug of water, snacks, or meals along the way. Generally you will find that day-use parks close at dusk, and the playgrounds are still closed. There are no guarantees on the restroom facilities. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.

P

art of being prepared is making sure the camp or park you are headed to is open before you leave. Most of our state-managed lands are open for day use and camping — especially in counties that are in Phase 2 and above. However, other local, tribal, and federal land may still be closed. If you are planning to camp, consider the layout of the campsite. While some campsites in Washington state parks are spaced far apart and allow for social distancing, others sit quite close to each other.

Help keep everyone safe while you enjoy the outdoors

  • Keep the group small. Camp with people in your household and with fewer than five friends from other households.
  • Enjoy the outdoors when healthy. If you feel even a little bit under the weather, wait for it to pass before visiting public parks.
  • Be flexible. If you get there and it looks crowded, have a back-up plan so you can go somewhere else or come back another time.
  • Practice physical distancing. Keep six feet between you and those outside your immediate household. Launch one boat at a time to give others enough space to launch safely. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.

Practice compassion. Be kind and respectful to the rangers, park aides, field staff, and other park visitors. This means staying at least six feet away from them. It means putting your mask on to have a conversation with them. And it means following the rules so the ranger doesn’t need to put themselves at risk to come have a chat with you. Remember, crowded parks are closed parks, so do your part to keep them open for everyone. Don’t forget your Discover Pass! 

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COVID-19 Update, June 14, 2020      logo

 

An increase in the spread of COVID-19 

COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Washington state. It has been spreading faster in eastern Washington, and the latest statewide situation report shows that not only has that increased spread continued, but the disease may be spreading more once again in western Washington now too.

Because of the time frame of the data used to look at these trends, it is possible the increases may be related to Memorial Day celebrations or travel. The time frame of these data would not include possible exposures from protests.

The situation in eastern Washington is of greatest concern, particularly in Benton, Franklin, Spokane, and Yakima counties. If COVID-19 continues to spread at its current rate, we will soon see large increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in these areas. By population, these counties are in a comparable position to King County at its peak in March.

We are continuing to monitor the data closely, and you can too by checking out the state’s risk assessment dashboard. We update that data weekly.

Some of the most important measures we look at include:

  • Rate of spread. For every 100,000 people in the state, we would like to see fewer than 25 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past two weeks. This would tell us that there is relatively little COVID-19 being spread throughout the state. We haven’t achieved this goal yet. In the last two weeks, for every 100,000 people in the state, there were 48.4 people diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • More testing. We need to increase the number of people tested. In fact, we need to test so many people that we’re confident we are finding most people with COVID-19. Our goal is, for each week, for every person who tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, we also want to have tested 50 people who tested negative. We haven’t achieved this goal yet, either. Last week, for every person who tested positive, there were only 19.5 people who tested negative. Another way of saying this is that we would like the percent of people testing positive for COVID-19 during the past week to be less than 2%. Last week 5.1% of people who got tested were positive.
  • Hospital capacity. We are also watching to make sure our hospitals are able to treat people if a lot of people get COVID-19 at once. Our goal is to have less than 80% of the beds in hospitals filled with patients. Right now, 65.5% of our hospital beds are filled. This means we feel confident that if you need hospitalization, we will have room for you. We also track the percent of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19. Our goal is to have fewer than 10% of the beds filled with patients with COVID-19. We are in good shape on this goal too. Right now, 2.6% of our hospital beds are filled with patients with COVID-19.

Many thanks to our partners the Institute for Disease Modeling and the Microsoft AI for Health program who helped us develop these reports and estimates.

Practice compassion. Do your part to keep COVID-19 from spreading in your community. Wear your cloth face covering in public. Be sure to stay at least six feet away from others. Wash your hands as often as you can and use hand sanitizer when you can’t. Also, if you think you might have been exposed or feel sick with any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested! You are making a difference by keeping other people healthy and keeping our communities open. 

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COVID-19 Update, June 13, 2020    logo

Take a break

This is a long road. COVID-19 will be impacting our lives for months to come. The fight against structural racism is far from over. And even as we start to open up business, the challenges of the economic downturn will be with us for a long time.

This weekend, take a break. And let’s think about how to incorporate healthy breaks into our daily lives. This is a marathon — stay rested, hydrated, and strong.

When you need a bit of distraction, it can be tempting to pick up your phone and start scrolling through social media. And we like memes and funny videos too! But too much social media can become a stressor itself. Here are some ideas for healthy breaks to rejuvenate you without the risk of wandering into a stressful social media news or argument.

Got, like, no time?

  • Stretch your body. If you’ve been hunched over a keyboard, stretch your wrists, stretch your back, stretch your neck. You can do this anytime, even during meetings. Don’t worry about looking too weird on your Zoom call. We’ve seen worse, and, besides, maybe you’ll start a group stretch break.
  • Drink a glass of water. You might just find that your head feels better, and you’re not as hungry as you thought.
  • Look out the window. It’s good for your eyes to gaze in the distance every now and then, especially if you’ve been focusing close up on written material or a screen. And it’s good for your mood to watch the birds and the flowers for a minute. That’s right, a minute. You can gift yourself that.

What about 5 minutes?

  • Listen to one of your favorite songs. Sing along! Dance! Or, sit still with your eyes closed and just enjoy. Let the music boost your mood.
  • Text a friend. A quick connection might be just the thing you need.
  • Try a meditation app. If you are new to meditation, five minutes is long enough to meditate and then convince yourself that it’s been way more than five minutes and your app must be broken and the timer is never going to go off. That’s okay. Just check the app to reassure yourself that the timer will eventually go off, and then keep meditating. With practice, you’ll be able to make it the whole five minutes. And with more practice, you’ll find your mind is calmer and your resilience to stress is stronger.
  • Make a cup of tea. Sometimes the ritual of making a cup of tea, or coffee, or whatever you prefer is just as comforting as the beverage.

Can you take half an hour?

  • Take a brisk walk. Good for your body and your mind. If you can’t get away, you do this while on a conference call or phone meeting.
  • Toss a ball around with your kids for a while. Basketball, soccer, football, catch, it doesn’t matter. This may help them get away from their electronics for a bit too and give you a fun way to connect.
  • Read a book or a magazine. Try to give your eyes and neck a break by going for paper or an audio book instead of reading on a screen.
  • Draw something. Color. Get the kids to help make chalk art on the sidewalk, or doodle in your notebook. Let your creativity take you where it will. Try one of these free designs by local Seattle artists to get started.

Do chores count as breaks?

  • Well, maybe. If chores add to your sense of overwhelm, then, no, they don’t count as a break. But, doing less urgent or less important work is a well-known procrastination move, as anyone who has de-cluttered a closet instead of writing a paper for school will remember. Chores that have an end point (however brief) like an empty sink or hamper can provide a sense of closure and accomplishment that an overflowing in box may never be able to. If doing a quick load of laundry gets you moving and thinking about something else, and feeling like your work/life balance is working for you, it might be just the break you need.

Practice compassion. Put a cloth face covering in your pocket and take a break to walk around your neighborhood. Say hello to everyone you see from six feet away. Ask your neighbors if they have everything they need. Put your cloth face covering on if you stop for a longer, physically distanced, conversation. This keeps you and your neighbors safer, and helps normalize wearing a mask, so those in your community will feel more comfortable wearing one next time they go out.

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COVID-19 Update, June 12, 2020         logo

Checking in on our habits; Those new habits can be positive

It’s been a long time since our regular routines were first disrupted by COVID-19. Now, as we slowly come out of our isolation, it might be time to check in on the new habits we’ve developed over the last couple months.

Self care

Did you spend your time at home doing pushups and squats? Have you been moving your body at all? If you have been spending your time mostly physically resting, start back to physical activity slowly. Work up to a brisk walk 30 minutes a day. Do some of those pushups and squats once or twice a week. Then as you adjust to that level of activity, feel free to add more!

How have your eating habits changed? Are you snacking more? Are you eating less take out now? More food you prepare yourself? Have you found nourishing foods you like to cook? Consider which of your eating habits are helping you feel healthy and energetic. More fruits and vegetables are starting to come in season. Add some to your diet.

Has staying at home and driving a lot less led you to increase the amount of alcohol you drink? Take stock of your drinking habits before they turn into a lifestyle you didn’t plan on.

Have you been working from home at all? Is your work space set up to help you keep good posture and avoid pain? Does working from home help you balance your work and your home life? Or does it blur the boundaries for you and lead you to working more hours than you need to? Telework is likely to be a big part of our future. Consider your work habits. Are they working for you?

And how’s your basic hygiene? I know you’re washing your hands, but as your morning routine changed, how’s that morning brush and floss going?

Leisure time

How have you been spending your time over the last several months? Have you discovered new hobbies that are enriching your life? Are you reading more? Are you driving less? Are you binge watching TV? Playing video games? Endlessly scrolling through social media? Consider what activities bring you energy and joy. Keep those. Jettison the ones that bring you stress and suck the energy out of you.

Connections

We haven’t been able to see many of our friends and family in person in a while. Consider how this has affected your relationships. Are there people you miss who you’d like to reach out to now? Are there some people you have had more quality time with? Are you video chatting with distant relatives more now? Are you playing more games with the kids? We’ve all spent more nights and weekends at home. Was there some amount of time to yourself that you would like to keep?

Keep what works for you. Start to consider what doesn’t. It’s totally reasonable to break out of your routine when something as disruptive as a pandemic hits. But choose wisely what parts of your new lifestyle you want to bring with you as we slowly move towards a new normal.

Practice compassion. Keep the habits that connect you well to others. Take care of yourself, then nurture those important relationships.

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news release 6.1

For immediate release: June 11, 2020 (20-100)

Contact: Jessica Baggett, Communications, 360-789-0058

Skamania County approved to move to Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan

OLYMPIA--Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved Skamania County to move into Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

A total of three counties are in Phase 1, three counties are in a modified version of Phase 1, 23 counties are in Phase 2 and 10 counties are in Phase 3. Benton and Franklin counties have applied to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, and their applications are currently under review by the department.

Businesses approved to move into a new phase must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.

On May 29, Governor Jay Inslee, in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health, established adata-driven approachto reopen Washington and modify social and recreational activities while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Washington will move through thephased reopeningcounty-by-county, allowing for flexibility and local control to address COVID-19 activity geographically.

This approach reduces the risk of COVID-19 to Washington’s most vulnerable populations and preserves capacity in our health care system, while safely opening up businesses and resuming gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation. The plan allows counties and the secretary of health to holistically review COVID-19 activity and the ability for the county to respond when determining if a county is ready to move into a new phase.

To apply to move to the next phase, counties must submit an application to the Washington State Department of Health. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health and the county executive or county commission.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The metric goals for moving between phases are intended to be applied as targets, not hardline measures. Where one target is not fully achieved, actions taken with a different target may offset a county’s overall risk. Some of the metrics the secretary of health will evaluate in addition to other information provided by counties include:

  • COVID-19 activity: The ideal target for new cases will be 25 or fewer per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. Hospitalizations for COVID should be flat or decreasing.
  • Healthcare system readiness: The available hospital beds in a given jurisdiction would preferably be at less than 80% occupancy.
  • Testing: Counties should show they have adequate testing capacity, 50 times as many people per day as they have confirmed new cases per day – which equates to positive test results under 2%. They also need to show rapid turnaround time for test results, ensuring that we can work effectively to contain the virus.
  • Case and contact investigations: The goal is to contact 90 percent of cases by phone or in person within 24 hours of receipt of a positive lab test result. There is also a goal of reaching all that person’s contacts within 48 hours of a positive test result. Additionally, there are goals to make contact with each case and contact during their home isolation or quarantine to help ensure their success.
  • Protecting high-risk populations: The ideal number of outbreaks reported by week – defined as two or more non-household cases where transmission occurred at work, in congregate living, or in an institutional setting –is zero for counties under 75,000, and no higher than three for our largest counties.
  • Additional information is availablein the governor's plan.

Requests to move into the next phase are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plan as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the secretary of health can modify the current phase or move the county back into an earlier phase. A county can also identify when they need to return to an earlier phase or eliminate approved activities.

Learn more about reopening and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Individuals can also find COVID-19 information on the Department of Health’s website or call 1-800-525-0127. Individuals can text the word “coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on their phone wherever they are.

 

Updated Phase 3 Information for Businesses and Workers:
https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-workers

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COVID-19 Update, June 11, 2020         logo

Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic

It is tough to think about how to address pressing social problems like institutional racism and oppression when we are already dealing with a pandemic. Some of us make decisions to protest in large groups by weighing the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 to our family against the urgent need to change the way we think about race in this country.

It’s a lot at once, and we haven’t even really started with the “murder hornets” yet.

Pandemics don’t come when they are convenient. In March 1918, when the first cases of pandemic flu were identified, we were fighting World War I. So, they were busy back then too.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, about 500 million people—about a third of the world’s population at the time—got flu. 50 million people died from it. There was no vaccine. There were no good treatments—either for the flu or for the bacterial pneumonia that sometimes followed. The health care systems around the country were totally overwhelmed, and people couldn’t get the care they needed.

There are big differences between that pandemic and this one. For starters, the 1918 flu pandemic was caused by an influenza virus, and COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus. And the world was a different place then, with much slower travel options, fewer people, but in a lot of places, more crowding.

Still, the 1918 flu pandemic taught us important lessons that resonate still today. Here are three:

  1. Trusted tools work. In 1918, there was no World Health Organization, and there was no US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each city responded to the pandemic on their own. Cities took action by counting the number of people who got flu, by isolating and quarantining families who were sick, by closing theaters and public transportation, by requiring masks in public. Sound familiar? When cities were able to consistently implement these tools, they flattened the curve. When they strayed from these approaches, more people got sick.
  2. Pandemics aren’t fair. Today, COVID-19 highlights differences in health and health care experiences among people with different types of privilege. Similarly, in 1918, people were not all impacted equally. People who had underlying health conditions were more likely to die. Soldiers and people who lived in poverty and crowded conditions were more likely to get sick. Pandemics happen in diverse communities. To stop the spread, everyone in the community needs the opportunity to be healthy.
  3. We cannot do this alone. We value our independence, but pandemics teach us how interdependent we really are. We’re not the only ones with influence on our health. It matters for your health whether I wear a mask. Your health is impacted if I decide to go out in public with a bit of a cough. You may need hospital care, but if we all haven’t done our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, there may be no room for you. If my employer doesn’t provide affordable health insurance, I may not be able to get the preventive care I need. The 1918 flu highlighted how connected we all are. After the pandemic, many nations responded by providing guaranteed health care to all their residents. The flu, like COVID-19, respected no county, state, or national border. In 1919 The International Bureau for Fighting Epidemics, a forerunner of WHO, was formed.

Some historians have observed that over time, we stopped talking about the 1918 pandemic, and some of these lessons were forgotten. But, they are important lessons, and we are learning them again. This time, let’s make sure we remember.

Practice compassion. We are all connected. Wash your hands, wear your cloth face covering, and stay home if you are sick. This is how we take care of each other.

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COVID-19 Update, June 10, 2020       logo

Providing human connection

while maintaining physical distance 

Department of Health is grateful for the valuable efforts of those who work at Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) across the state. These programs continue to provide dedicated service while maintaining the physical distance necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As always, SSPs are providing compassionate human connection to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in Washington. These programs offer access to nonjudgmental health education and lifesaving supplies to people who use drugs.

Washington state has a long history of programs providing sterile syringes, going back more than 30 years. In fact, the first publicly funded SSP in the United States was located in Tacoma. Syringe access is among the most researched and effective strategies to prevent HIV, viral hepatitis, and other blood-borne pathogens. SSPs are also a key access point for naloxone, a medication that prevents opioid overdose deaths. SSPs are a crucial part of our efforts to meet the goals of End AIDS WashingtonHep C Free Washington, and the state Opioid Response Plan. Without syringe access, communities risk serious outbreaks of infectious disease, similar to the one experienced in Scott County, Indiana in 2015.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19

Due to the ongoing pandemic, SSPs needed to change how they operate. Some of the changes these programs made to remain open and prevent the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Moving services outdoors

  • Providing more supplies than usual to reduce the frequency of visits

  • Pre-packing supplies to allow for contactless delivery

  • Shifting from onsite services to mobile or delivery services

  • Restricting bathroom access

  • Changing operating hours

  • Limiting face-to-face services (e.g., suspending HIV/hepatitis C testing and case management services)

  • Offering written materials about COVID-19 prevention

  • Increasing the amount of basic hygiene supplies provided

  • Implementing comprehensive sanitizing protocols

Continuing to serve those hit hardest

COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities served by SSPs, including those experiencing homelessness and marginally housed people. Sarah Deutsch, Director of Programs at the Hepatitis Education Project, shares, “Staff had to make exceedingly difficult decisions about how to best serve our community when both opening and closing our doors carried risk. This experience has taken a significant emotional toll on our staff and community members alike. Initially, community members voiced frustration over the changes to program access, but the staff communicated the need for these changes. Now, community members frequently express their appreciation for our continued commitment to service continuity. Even so, there is a visible change in many of the SSP clients’ well-being because of the reduced access to supportive services and face-to-face contact with people who care.”

Unfortunately, with the current COVID-19 epidemic, overdose deaths are likely to increase due to the unpredictability of street drugs and the physical distancing requirements that make it difficult to observe and respond to overdoses. Helen Kenoyer, Prevention and Linkage to Care Coordinator at Clallam County’s SSP, notes, “I think the biggest challenge we are facing in our community is the amount of overdoses we are experiencing. Trying to respond to this COVID-19 pandemic we are all facing and simultaneously dealing with such a huge increase in overdoses has been a very frustrating challenge.”

This challenge makes SSPs all the more important as a critical safety net for people to access naloxone. In addition, a number of SSPs throughout the state provide low-barrier access to medications for opioid use disorder, which helps many people stabilize their lives and improve their health. Programs offering low-barrier access to these treatments report a greater demand for this service in light of COVID-19 and the changes the pandemic response has caused in their communities.

Hanna Day, Lead Community Health Outreach Worker at the Tacoma Needle Exchange, operated by Dave Purchase Project, describes how difficult adjustments made by SSPs have affected staff and participants: “Our staff has to work hard to keep a positive attitude and demeanor when dealing with people who are frustrated and may lash out because of that. I also feel like the lack of close contact with participants has negatively affected [them] and the outreach workers. One of the things that distinguishes harm reductionists from other service providers is the close contact we have with participants. Participants want to get close, for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, during this time, close contact is exactly what this virus needs to spread and thus, places both the outreach workers and the participants at risk. Also, wearing masks all day/every day, a necessary precaution and new outreach requirement, is a pain.”

Human connection is a major component of effective SSPs

SSP staff are dedicated to supporting people without the stigma associated with their behavior. Building these relationships has a positive impact because when people feel someone cares about them they are more likely to seek help, including health care, mental health care, and treatment for substance use disorder. Department of Health conducted focus groups in April 2019 that discovered that program participants felt the SSP staff were some of the first people to show that they cared about them. One participant noted, “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, all they’re doing is enabling use.’ Well, you have to have people care about you and your health to recover, and if it wasn’t for their care, I probably wouldn’t be doing it.”

We are aware that public perception around SSPs is not always positive, and that people may have strong feelings about supporting people who are actively using drugs. Some benefits of SSPs are not so intuitive to the public. For example, SSPs actually decrease syringe litter in the environment by providing safe disposal services. Additionally, access to syringes significantly reduces the risk of bacterial infections like endocarditis and cellulitis that are extremely costly to treat. The availability of sterile equipment reduces use of emergency rooms to treat these infections, and decreases healthcare costs. We promote health equity and human dignity for all Washington residents and support SSPs, as they are backed by sound research.

Thank you SSPs for your ongoing hard work!

We graciously thank the dedicated and caring SSP staff members and volunteers who continue to help our most marginalized and vulnerable communities, especially during these exceptionally challenging times as we all cope with COVID-19.

To learn more:

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COVID-19 Update, June 8, 2020        logo

Frequently Asked Questions on Cloth Face Coverings

As part of Gov. Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan, starting today, June 8, all employees are required to wear a cloth face covering, mask, or respirator depending on their type of work. There are some exceptions, including when working alone in certain settings, when a job has no in-person interaction, and for people with a medical condition or disability that makes wearing a face covering inappropriate. Businesses are also encouraged to require customers to wear cloth face coverings in order to protect their employees from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do I need to wear a mask? COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets we all expel when as we cough, sneeze, speak, or even breathe. Covering your mouth and nose keeps these droplets to yourself. This is especially important if you are going to be less than six feet from other people. No single action completely stops the spread of the virus. In addition to consistently using cloth face coverings when we leave home, we also must continue to wash our hands often with soap and water, stay home if we feel sick, and stay six feet away from others whenever possible.

What should I do if I see someone not wearing a mask? Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your mask and stay six feet away.  

When do I not have to wear a mask? You do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are in your own home or in your car, if you are only with people in your own household. You also do not need to wear a cloth face covering when you are exercising outdoors and you have plenty of space. It’s a good idea to keep one in your pocket, though, in case you end up running into someone on the trail.

I’d like to make my own! What kind of fabric should I use? Use a tight weave, cotton fabric. The kind of fabrics used for shirts or quilting work well. Heavier cottons (upholstery weight, denim, twill, etc.) are uncomfortable to wear and hard to breathe through. If you’re really crafty, try making one with that allows others to see your lips as you speak! It’s really helpful to people who are hard of hearing. Here are some instructions: https://www.hsdc.org/accessible-deaf-friendly-face-mask/

I definitely don’t want to make my own. What’s the absolute easiest way to do this? Cloth face coverings do not need to be complicated or expensive. Save medical masks and respirators for health care workers and others in high-risk settings. The absolute easiest way to do this is to take a scarf or any breathable, washable fabric, and wrap it around your face so that a couple layers of fabric are completely covering your mouth and nose.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on June 7, there are 410,290 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 24,041 people (or 5.9%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,161 people (or 4.8%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. COVID-19 continues to be a very real threat. Consistently wearing a cloth face covering in public is a simple and important way you can protect others.

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COVID-19 Update, June 7, 2020          logo

Communicating with our faces covered

Hearing new ways in a new world 

Non-verbals are such an important part of how we connect and communicate with each other. Many of our go-to non-verbals — a smile, a gentle touch, leaning in close to whisper a secret — are either impossible from six feet away, or hidden by our cloth face coverings. This is frustrating for all of us. But so much more so for those of us who are Deaf or hard of hearing and routinely read lips and facial expressions to communicate.

If it is hard for you to hear from six feet away or when someone is wearing a mask:

  • Consider whether there are apps that may help you. Explore speech-to-text apps or sound-amplifying apps. You may need to practice with them a bit to get the hang of it
  • Carry pen and paper with you and ask people to write down what they are trying to say.
  • It might be easier to hear if you can you go into another room, remove your mask, and then FaceTime or video chat with your friends.
  • If you wear hearing aids, a cloth face covering that ties in the back may interfere with your hearing aids less than one that loops around your ears.
  • Ask your audiologist if there are adjustments that might be made to your hearing aids to help you more clearly hear speech that is muffled by cloth face coverings.

If you are not Deaf or hard of hearing,

  • Use extra patience in communicating. It’s frustrating for all of us when we don’t understand or someone misinterprets what we mean.
  • Pay close attention to others as you are communicating. Remember — you don’t have all the nonverbal information you are used to either! It can be easy to misinterpret people. Consider that instead of ignoring you, perhaps someone doesn’t understand you or didn’t hear you at all.
  • Use more gestures in your everyday speech. You don’t need to use actual ASL signs — a wave to get someone’s attention, pointing to objects, a shrug, or an eye roll all speak volumes.
  • Consider making a face covering that allows others to see your lips as you speak. Here are some instructions: https://www.hsdc.org/accessible-deaf-friendly-face-mask/
  • If you are talking to someone who is Deaf or hard of hearing and someone with them is acting as an interpreter, as you are speaking, look at and speak directly to the person who is Deaf. It is tempting to watch the interpreter sign your words, but you are not having a conversation with the interpreter. Just focus on the person you are conversing with.

You can find more COVID-19 information in American Sign Language on our website.

Practice compassion. Tell your loved ones you care about them. It can feel awkward to state out loud what we are so used to communicating non-verbally. Until we can safely hug, high five, and pat each other on the back, use your words to say, “I love you.” “I’m so proud of you.” “I care about you.”

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COVID-19 Update, June 7, 2020             logo

Giving and receiving support

Whether you need help or want to help 

We all have some times when we need support and other times when we are able to provide support for others. These are difficult times. Economically. Socially. Physically. If you need support, it is okay to ask for it. Here are some resources that may help:

Volunteer opportunities

If you are healthy and feeling able to provide support to your community, you may find that you receive as much as you give! Volunteering is good for your health! Volunteering has been shown to reduce depression and stress and help people live longer. And, you might get to learn something new or meet someone new!

Need to stay home and stay healthy for a while longer? That’s okay, you don’t even need to leave the house to volunteer!

  • You could join the Washington Mask Challenge and make cloth masks for organizations in need throughout Washington State, such as nursing homes, homeless shelters, food banks, and more. Visit WAMaskChallenge.org for more information.
  • You could donate to a Shelter or Food Bank and help make sure everyone has enough to eat. Donate to the Hunger Relief Fund for Washington.
  • You could support nonprofits that you love, that are helping people in need, that your friends recommend to you, or to those are addressing systemic racial inequities and disparities. You can also consider giving to regional funds through Philanthropy Northwest — Response to COVID-19 Outbreak.
  • You could donate medical supplies or equipment you don’t need anymore. Email FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center at nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov to find out how.

Are you feeling 100%, got your mask ready and plenty of hand sanitizer?

  • You could volunteer at a food bank. Food banks need volunteers to help sort food, and will help you stay safe and six feet away from others while you volunteer. Check out the following organizations to connect with a food bank in your area.
  • Northwest Harvest (Statewide)
  • Second Harvest (Eastern Washington)
  • Food Lifeline (Western Washington)
  • You could donate blood. Blood donations have decreased dramatically. Visit Bloodworks NW in the Puget Sound region or American Red Cross Blood Services.

Practice compassion. Take care of yourself, and then take care of others. The simplest way to help others may be to call or text a neighbor or friend to connect and check on them. It will bring a smile to both of you!

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COVID-19 Update, June 6, 2020             logo

Contact tracing; A trusted tool in preventing disease

Contact tracing is how we identify people who may have COVID-19 and not know it and help them avoid spreading it to others. People who might be contagious and not know it are generally close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. A close contact is a person who has been within six feet of you for 15 minutes or more.

Contact tracing is a trusted tool of public health. It has been used for centuries to limit the spread of disease. Thorough contact tracing was a major contributor to the World Health Organization’s success in eradicating smallpox. The World Health Organization assembled a huge team of people to do this work all over the world. Teams of volunteers interviewed many, many people to find where an outbreak of smallpox was happening, identify people with smallpox, and vaccinate all the people around them to stop the disease from spreading.

We are using the same trusted tools, boosted with new technologies, to control COVID-19. We don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19 yet, so we isolate or quarantine people who might spread the virus to keep it from spreading. Today, you might get a text or call on your cell phone, which makes our response much quicker than in the past. And the more quickly we can isolate or quarantine folks who might be able to spread COVID-19, the more quickly and completely we can stop the disease from spreading.

Contact tracers ask every person for their date of birth, address, gender at birth, race, ethnicity, and other questions. They will never ask for or write down immigration status, Social Security number, financial information, or marital status. Information collected during interviews is used only by public health agencies. The information is protected in secure systems and individual information is not shared with anyone else. Contact tracers operate under strict confidentiality rules. In fact, when a contact tracer calls you, they won’t even tell you who it was who tested positive for COVID-19 and said you were a close contact of theirs!

If you are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you will be asked to stay home and monitor your health for 14 days. If you stay healthy for 14 days, you can end your quarantine! If you get sick, you’ll get tested for COVID-19. If you are positive, the process starts all over again and YOU get interviewed by a contact tracer to find your close contacts. This step is vital to containing the virus. If an infected contact is missed, the virus may spread to more people.

We know how to beat this, and we have the tools to do it. We just need you to do your part if the health department calls you!

Practice compassion. These are difficult times, and, as a nation, we are having difficult conversations. In your difficult conversations, spend more time listening than talking. And remember, we are all still learning.

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Washington State COVID-19 Status Report          June 5, 2020

14 Washington counties approved to move forward in coronavirus reopenings

The state Health Department approved applications from 14 Washington counties on Friday to move to new phases of reopening the economy. Pierce and Snohomish counties, as well as Clark, Okanogan, Skagit and Whatcom counties can move to Phase 2 of reopening, which allows restaurants to offer indoor dining at half-capacity.

Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Wahkiakum counties were approved to move to Phase 3, which allows restaurants to operate at 75% capacity, movie theaters to reopen at half-capacity and lets libraries and museums reopen.

King County was allowed to move to what is being described as a "modified" Phase 1 reopening.

In total, 34 of Washington’s 39 counties have now been approved for some level of reopening. To progress in reopening, counties must have declining infection levels, adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, space in hospitals, ample testing capacity and a contact tracing system in place to try to contain the virus.

King County approved to move to “modified” Phase 1

The Washington State Department of Health has approved King County's request to move into the next step in a multiphase reopening under the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the new regulations from state health officials, restaurants and retailers can resume operations, serving customers in a limited capacity. Public Health – Seattle & King County will oversee the impacts of this step, monitoring transmission trends, medical capacity and other indicators to inform further reopening decisions.

Here is what this next step means for various industries:

  • Restaurants: Restaurants serving customers outside may operate at 50% of their available capacity, with people at all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance. Restaurants will need to seek approval to expand outdoor seating. Establishments with indoor dining are allowed to operate at 25% of their capacity, with the same conditions.
  • In-store retail: Stores may reopen, but the number of patrons inside may not exceed 15% of their capacity. Businesses must display signs "encouraging" customers to keep visits under 30 minutes, including face-to-face interactions. Retail considered essential may operate under the existing state regulations. "This is not meant to be timed to the second – no one is expected to have a stopwatch – but customers should be informed why it is important to limit close interactions," according to the news release.
  • Services: The following professions may operate but must limit clients to 25% of capacity: cosmetologists, hairstylists, barbers, estheticians, master estheticians, manicurists, nail salon workers, electrologists, permanent makeup artists, tattoo artists, accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisers, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers and other office-based occupations. Cosmetology schools and esthetics schools are also included.
  • Construction: All existing and new construction — including projects that do not allow maintenance of social distancing — is authorized to resume.

Read the full story here.

Phase 3 template for business 

Gov. Jay Inslee today released a template for businesses in Phase 3 of the Washington “Safe Start” plan. Each business or entity operating in Phase 3 must develop a written safety plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement or may develop its own safety plan. 

Businesses are still required to follow the state’s industry-specific guidance, if issued for their specific industry.

Guidance for sporting activities in Phases 2 and 3 

Gov. Jay Inslee today issued guidance for sporting activities in Phases 2 and 3. The guidance covers professional sporting activities, youth team sports and adult recreational team sports. 

Guidance documents: 

Full list of guidance for all current businesses

Idaho offers $1,500 bonus for people to return to work

Idaho residents on unemployment could receive a one-time bonus of up to $1,500 to return to work under a plan Gov. Brad Little announced Friday. The Republican governor said the incentive is intended to help get the state’s economy going again. Part-time workers would receive $750.

“Now is the time for us to provide Idahoans with the financial incentive to return to work and ensure our economic rebound is swift and robust,” Little said.

The state’s unemployment rate has rocketed to 11.5% with more than 100,000 unemployed. But Idaho is in the third stage of Little’s four-stage plan to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, and there are signs the economy is turning around. Nearly all businesses can now open under the guidelines. 

New COVID-19 Proclamations

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What’s allowed as counties reopen under Gov. Inslee’s ‘Safe Start’ phases 

BY MYNORTHWEST STAFF
JUNE 5, 2020 AT 5:41 PM

Gov. Inslee on May 29, announced the stay-at-home order would expire on May 31, but his Safe Start plan would begin on its heels. The plan allows for a county-by-county approach to reopening.

On Friday, June 5, 14 counties in Washington state were approved to move into the next phase of Inslee’s Safe Start plan. There are now five counties in Phase 1, one county in a modified Phase 1, 26 in Phase 2, and seven in Phase 3.

Phase 1: 

Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, King is in a modified phase (Phase 1.5), and Yakima

Phase 2:

Stevens and Skamania were granted a variance on May 11. Whitman County was granted variance on May 15. Asotin County was approved May 18. Adams, Grays Harbor, Lewis, and Spokane were approved to move to Phase 2 on May 22. Pending review is Kittitas County. Seven more counties were approved on May 23: Cowlitz, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, and San Juan counties. Kittitas, Thurston, and Walla Walla counties were approved on May 27. Clallam and Kitsap counties were granted variance on May 28. Snohomish and Pierce counties were approved to move ahead on June 5.

Phase 3: 

Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, and Wahkiakum counties were approved for Phase 3 on June 5.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

On May 29, Inslee also announced new criteria that counties must meet to move from phase to phase. Incidence of new cases reported during prior two weeks have to be fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people. The average number of tests performed per day during the past week (or average % tests positive for COVID-19 during the past week) needs to be 50 times the number of cases (or 2%). Read more about the criteria here.

The criteria has morphed at least twice. On Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Inslee announced the criteria that counties can use to apply for variance changed. Counties could apply for a variance if they had fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week span. Those standards were consistent with the CDC’s own guidelines. Originally, the guidelines were that counties must have had a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of the coronavirus in the last three weeks.

A county must also show it has adequate local hospital capacity and enough PPE to outfit health care workers. Read more from the DOH.

The application must include plans for:

  • Making testing available and accessible to everyone in the county with symptoms
  • Staffing case investigations and contact tracing
  • Housing people in isolation or quarantine who can’t or don’t want to do so at home
  • Providing case management services to those in isolation and quarantine
  • Responding rapidly to outbreaks in congregate settings.

The state Secretary of Health, John Wiesman, will review applications and determine whether a county meets the requirements move on to the next phase, potentially with modifications. Variances can be revoked if circumstances change in a county.

Phase 1:

There are four phases to Inslee’s Safe Start process. May 5 marked the start of Phase 1, permitting the following industries to begin reopening: construction activity, outdoor activities, park access, drive-in spiritual service, landscaping, car washes, vehicle sales, pet walking, and retail sales with curbside pickup. Outdoor activities include: golf and day use at state parks and public lands for fishing, hunting and other recreational purposes.

On May 14, the governor reopened: outdoor, staffed tennis; guided tours and instruction for ATV, paddle sports, fishing and horseback; go-cart tracks, ORV/motocross and participant-only motorsports; and other substantially similar outdoor activities.

Phase 2:

Permitted in Phase 2: outdoor recreation, manufacturing, construction, domestic services, retail, real estate, professional services, nail salons, barbers, pet grooming, and restaurants (all with strict safety measures).

Inslee announced a proclamation on May 18 to reopen medical and dental offices.

The state Department of Health says each phase will last for a minimum of 3 weeks.

Each industry that opens has a state-issued set of safety guidelines that must be followed. The state has worked with industry leaders to develop the guidelines. Get the DOH’s guideline’s here.

Inslee announced on May 27 that religious organizations, both in Phase 1 and 2, can meet in person, but they must follow a set of guidelines. Among some typical restrictions that apply to businesses, organizations must not hold choir performances. Also there should not be anything consumed or served from a communal container or plate.

The state has listed what is prohibited here.

Phase 3 would allow gatherings of 50 or fewer people, including sports, travel, restaurants at 75% capacity, and bars at 25%. Gyms and movie theaters at 50% capacity, and retail, libraries, museums, and government buildings could open. Pools and recreation centers could open at 50% capacity.

Phase 4 is essentially back to a new normal, allowing gatherings of 50 or more, etc. All phases must still follow physical distancing guidelines.

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COVID-19 Update, June 5, 2020             logo

From Exposure to Feeling Better 

Let’s go over what happens if you were to get exposed to COVID-19, from beginning to end. Let’s say you find out you were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 when…

You get contacted by your health department

We know these folks, they’re awesome. But they have bad news for you. Someone you know has been diagnosed with COVID-19. And that person believes they spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of you. That makes you a close contact, and it makes you potentially exposed to COVID-19. So what happens next?

Quarantine

If you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be asked to quarantine. This means staying in your home for 14 days. If you have kids or other family members in your household, they can still leave the house, but if you get sick, they will have to stay home too! During this time, you are feeling just fine. Maybe worried. Maybe jealous because your family members can leave the house. You’ll be monitoring your health — taking your temperature every day. You’re probably getting a call every day or so from one of our friends at the health department to make sure you have everything you need. They will help you out if you need to get food, medication, or other supplies picked up without leaving your house.

Count down the days! After 14 days, if you have been healthy this whole time — no fever, no cough, no other symptoms associated with COVID-19 — you can leave your house again!

But, if you do get sick, the health department will ask you to isolate yourself from other people as completely as possible.

Isolation

Isolation is very important so you do not spread COVID-19 to anyone else. When you are in isolation, you are feeling sick. Your family members who live in your house with you are quarantined. They need to stay in the house but away from you! You will need to stay isolated for at least 10 days and until your fever has been gone for three days, and the rest of your symptoms are much better. You’ll continue to hear frequently from someone at the health department, who will help make sure you have everything you need so you do not need to leave the house.

Testing

Once you get symptoms, the health department will also ask you to get tested for COVID-19. They will help you figure out the safest way to do that without putting others at risk. Anyone and everyone who has symptoms associated with COVID-19 needs to get tested. There should be no cost to you as a patient for testing, whether you have insurance or not. The state Insurance Commissioner is requiring insurers to waive co-pays and deductibles for COVID-19 testing.

Once you test positive for COVID-19, someone from the health department will ask you who you have been in close contact with during the time period when you could have been contagious (when you feel sick plus about 2–3 days before you started to feel sick). If you have been quarantined, this is most likely no one outside of your immediate household. If you have been in public, you will let the health department knows who has been within six feet of you for more than 15 minutes.

Then the process starts all over again as the health department calls your close contacts and asks them to quarantine so they don’t spread COVID-19 to anyone else.

Trusted public health approach

This strategy is a trusted public health approach that has been used here in Washington and all over the world for decades to stop the spread of contagious diseases like tuberculosis, measles, Ebola, SARS, and, now, COVID-19. Our experience with other contagious diseases tells us that, with your help, we can control COVID-19, and safely reopen our economy.

Video and fact sheet

Fact sheet — COVID-19: From Exposure to Feeling Better (PDF), you will find:

  • What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19.
  • What to do if you have COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms.
  • A worksheet to figure out how to long stay home.

This video answers questions about COVID-19: From Exposure to Feeling Better.

Practice compassion

Has someone you know had to quarantine or isolate themselves because of an exposure to COVID-19? How can you help? Can you drop off a meal or send a text to check in on them?

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Washington State COVID-19 Status Report        June 4, 2020

With more test supplies on hand, Inslee announces expanded testing for new coronavirus

The city of Seattle and the state of Washington are expanding testing for the coronavirus, the governor and mayor’s office announced Thursday. The state now has enough supplies for COVID-19 tests that it would expand testing to new populations, including those who are only mildly symptomatic. In a news conference, Inslee said the shift marked a “significant broadening of our testing strategy” that could better detect the new coronavirus around Washington. The expansion also would allow health officials to better monitor Washington’s 39 counties as they lift restrictions on businesses and activities under his four-part reopening plan, the governor said. The first part of that expansion, Inslee said, is strong encouragement for people with even mild symptoms to get tested for the new coronavirus. “If you think you’re sick, please get tested,” Inslee said. “We strongly encourage people to do this, even if people are mildly symptomatic.”

Washington commercial landlords could get coronavirus relief on tax bills under new Assessor proposal

As pandemic-stricken business tenants fall behind on rent, the King County Assessor has a new proposal that could help commercial and multifamily landlords get some much-desired relief on their property tax bills. Assessor John Wilson asked the State Legislature Thursday to allow counties to move more quickly to lower the taxable value of commercial properties whose owners have been unable to collect rent since the statewide stay-at-home order shuttered most storefronts. If the proposal passes in a special legislative session later this year, it could reduce King County property tax collections by 2.5%, or nearly $155 million. The reductions would apply to the second half of 2020 property taxes, due in October. The specific impact on individual properties would depend on how much rent they’ve missed out on.

Counties

Phase

Specific Guidance

 

Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, King, Okanogan, Pierce, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Whatcom, Yakima

 

 

1

 

 

Essential Business Guidance

Many parts of the economy are already allowed to operate safely as essential businesses. For a list of essential businesses clickhere.

 

Phase 1 Business Activity Guidelines

 

 

Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Clark*, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whitman

 

*Eligible for apply for Phase 2

2

Phase 2Business Activity Guidelines

 

 

 

 

New COVID-19 Proclamations

n/a

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COVID-19 Update, June 4, 2020            logo

New Data Dashboards Available

There is new data available to help us see more clearly how quickly COVID-19 is spreading, how many people are getting tested, and how prepared our health care system is for taking care of more people with COVID-19. You can check out the data here: COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard.

This information helps us make good, science-based decisions about what we need to do, keep doing, or stop doing to keep each other healthy and safe. Keep watching the dashboards — we’ll add more data over time as the situation changes.

Frequently asked questions

Why don’t you report the number of people who recovered?

Some counties are reporting the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in their county, but this number is hard for us to know at the state level. We have public health systems in place that help us count how many people were hospitalized with a disease or how many people died of a particular disease, but we don’t really have a system that reliably tells us how many people in the state are feeling much better now. And, of course, we will never know the number of people who had COVID-19 and recovered, but were never tested.

We report the number of people in Washington who tested positive for COVID-19, and the number of people who died of COVID-19. About 5% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died. Some of the people who tested positive are still sick and won’t be considered recovered until at least 10 days after they got sick, or 72 hours after their fever has resolved and their symptoms are better. Everyone else has recovered.

How much is COVID-19 spreading right now?

The latest statewide modeling report (PDF) shows that COVID-19 spread is decreasing in western Washington, but increasing in eastern Washington. The model estimates how many people each person who catches COVID-19 is likely to give it to. On average, each person in western Washington who gets COVID-19 now, spreads it to less than one other person, but in eastern Washington, each person who gets COVID-19 now spreads it to more than one other person on average. Most of the new cases have been reported in King and Yakima counties.

Practice compassion

Are you interested in volunteering to help with the public health response to COVID-19? Thank you! And register with the Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers (WAserv) to sign up! 

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COVID-19 Update, June 4, 2020   

Public Health was informed that there is an inaccurate positive COVID case and hospitalization listed on the DOH COVID website under Skamania County. This is a false report that was actually a new case in Klickitat County. DOH is correcting the error as soon as possible.

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COVID-19 Update, June 4, 2020  

Six counties have applied to move to Phase 3 of reopening.

Applications to the Department of Health have been submitted for Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Columbia, and Wahkiakum counties. They are among eight counties that have been in Phase 2 for three weeks and are eligible to apply to advance to the third phase. Garfield and Skamania are also eligible to apply as of Wednesday. Whitman County could be eligible Friday.

Phase 3 expands group gatherings to 50 or less, including sports activities, and allows restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. Gyms and movie theaters can also reopen at half capacity during this phase. Most public interactions resume in the final phase, with bars, restaurants and entertainment and sporting venues returning to their regular capacity.

Twelve counties are still in Phase 1, which only allows essential businesses to be open and limits restaurant service to takeout and delivery. It also allows for limited outdoor recreation, including fishing and golfing, the reopening of state parks and existing construction. Last week, Inslee announced that churches, mosques and synagogues can resume in-person services, with those in counties in the second stage of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan allowed to have smaller in-building services and the remainder limited to outdoor services with no more than 100 people.

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COVID-19 Update, June 2, 2020        logo

Top 5 things to know about COVID-19

There’s so much to know about COVID-19, and the information is changing all the time! Here are the Top 5 most important things to know about this pandemic right now. How many can you slip into conversation this week? Help spread the facts on COVID-19!

  1. Six feet away, buddy! As different areas in the state begin to move into new phases of the Safe Start program, we are beginning to have more and more public interaction. Physical distancing is still a really important part of preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus is spread in respiratory droplets that can travel about six feet when you are coughing, sneezing, singing, or even talking. Stay six feet away from other people and out of range of the virus!
  2. I care about you. Make sure your friends and family know you care about them and want them to be safe and healthy. Maintain these important relationships, but, rememberno peer pressure if someone is reluctant to come out for a barbeque or play date just yet. We all have different tolerance levels for risk. Besides, someone may have an underlying illness you don’t know about. It’s kind of rude to ask about underlying illnesses, so just support your friends in family in staying home if that’s what they need to take care of themselves.
  3. This is how we open the economy. The quickest way to get our businesses open—and keep them open—is to control the virus. That looks like all of us wearing cloth face coverings around other people, staying six feet away from others, and washing our hands. 
  4. We know how to beat this. Testing and contact tracing are trusted tools that we have used for many decades to control disease. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider to get tested. If you have COVID-19, work with public health staff to find people you may have exposed so they can know how not to keep spreading the virus to others. This is how we beat this thing and get our economy growing again.
  5. We must address racism and COVID-19 at the same time. These are not easy times. In addition to dealing with intense feelings and stress because we’re in a pandemic and struggling with economic losses, we are mourning the impacts of persistent unfairness and racism in our institutions and in our country. These stressors are not only hitting us all at one time, but they amplify each other. The isolation and instability we are feeling because of the pandemic make it harder to handle and respond to the injustices we’re seeing. The health inequities marginalized and oppressed communities already experience are highlighted and intensified by the impacts of COVID-19. We cannot all be healthy when racism in our institutions is unchecked.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on June 1, there are 368,799 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 22,157 people (or 6.0%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,129 people (or 5.1%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Take care of yourself and others. Eat nourishing food, get some physical activity, sleep, and stay connected to others. Take breaks from the news and social media, even if they’re brief. Ask for help when you need it, and provide help to others when you can.

 

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Washington State COVID-19 Status Report - June 1, 2020

Higher Ed & Workforce Training Guidance

Gov. Jay Inslee today issued higher education and workforce training requirements in Phase 1 and Phase 2. These guidelines do not apply generally to higher education institutions; they apply only to workforce training programs that require in-classroom/lab practicums only.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in phases, with adequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks.

Additionally, counties with less than 25 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span can apply to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Twenty-six counties have been approved to move to the next phase. 

Guidance documents: 

Klickitat County approved to move to Phase 2

Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved the application for Klickitat County to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan 

First wave of supplies to ship as part of state’s plan for widespread testing within long term care facilities

Supply shipments start today as part of Washington state’s effort to test thousands of staffers and residents at long term care facilities across the state in two weeks’ time. Supplies include test kits, personal protective equipment and return shipment materials, to be sent in waves every three days to ensure labs have the capacity to process all of the samples.

On May 29, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) issued an order that requires widespread testing within long term care facilities. Residents and staff in nursing homes will be tested within approximately two weeks, with a completion goal date of June 12. All residents and staff in assisted living facilities

with a memory care unit will be tested within four weeks, with a completion goal date of June 26.

“Information about testing in other long term care facilities will be forthcoming,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “These congregate settings are a priority for us and we are working with local health jurisdictions, facilities and health system partners to understand the challenges associated with expanded testing and mobilizing the resources to support scaled operations among these facilities.”

Nursing home and other long term care residents are at high risk for infection, serious illness and death from COVID-19, and testing, along with other infection prevention and control measures, is a critical tool to identify cases and stop transmission. Once test results are received, positive results should be reported following normal protocol, and be referred to local health jurisdictions for case investigation, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine support. If a resident tests positive, DOH recommends that the facility follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on cohorting both residents and staff. Staff who are asymptomatic and test positive should not return to work for 10 days (from the test day).

Federal guidance recommends a baseline universal test for all residents and staff before a facility progresses between any phases of reopening.

Counties

Phase

Specific Guidance

 

Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, King, Okanogan, Pierce, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Whatcom, Yakima

 

 

1

 

 

Essential Business Guidance

Many parts of the economy are already allowed to operate safely as essential businesses. For a list of essential businesses clickhere.

Phase 1 Business Activity Guidelines

 

Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Clark*, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whitman

 

*Eligible for apply for Phase 2

2

Phase 2Business Activity Guidelines

 

 

 

 

New COVID-19 Proclamations

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news release 6.1 

For immediate release: June 1, 2020  (20-089)

Contact: Jessica Baggett, Communications, 360-789-0058

Klickitat County approved to move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan

OLYMPIA -- Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved the application for Klickitat County to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

A total of 27 counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Klickitat Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, and Whitman.

The application from Clark County remains on pause due to an outbreak investigation.

covid map 6.1

Businesses approved to move into Phase 2 must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.

On May 29, Governor Jay Inslee, in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health, established a data-driven approach to reopen Washington and modify physical distancing measures while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19. Washington will move through the phased reopening county-by-county allowing for flexibility and local control to address COVID-19 activity geographically.

This approach reduces the risk of COVID-19 to Washington’s most vulnerable populations and preserves capacity in our health care system, while safely opening up businesses and resuming gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation. The plan allows counties and the secretary of health to holistically review COVID-19 activity and the ability for the county to respond when determining if a county is ready to move into a new phase.

To apply for a variance to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, counties must submit an application to the Washington State Department of Health. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health and the county executive or county commission.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. These are some of the metrics the secretary of health will evaluate in addition to other information provided by counties:

  • COVID-19 activity: The ideal target for new cases will be 25 or fewer per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. Hospitalizations for COVID must be flat or decreasing.
  • Healthcare system readiness: The available hospital beds in a given jurisdiction would preferably be at less than 80% occupancy.
  • Testing: Counties need to show they have adequate testing capacity, 50 times as many people per day as they have confirmed new cases per day – which equates to positive test results under 2%. They also need to show rapid turnaround time for test results, ensuring that we can work effectively to contain the virus.
  • Case and contact investigations: The goal is to contact 90% of cases by phone or in person within 24 hours of receipt of a positive lab test result. There is also a goal of reaching all that person’s contacts within 48 hours of a positive test result.
  • Protecting high-risk populations: The ideal number of outbreaks reported by week – defined as two or more non-household cases where transmission occurred at work, in congregate living, or in an institutional setting – is zero for counties under 75,000, and no higher than three for our largest counties.
  • Additional information is available in the governor's plan.

Requests to move into the next phase are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, county officials or the secretary of health can move to return that county to an earlier phase.

Learn more about reopening and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Individuals can also find COVID-19 information on the Department of Health’s website or call 1-800-525-0127. Individuals can text the word “coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on their phone wherever they are.

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COVID-19 Update, June 1, 2020           logo

Antibodies to COVID-19

Antibodies are proteins that can fight off infections. Your body creates antibodies when your immune system responds to an infection. The antibodies that your body creates when you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 are made by your body specifically to attack that particular virus. After your body has fought off COVID-19, these antibodies are still in your blood and can tell us that you have had this virus.

This virus is new to us, and these antibodies are also new to us! Just like we are still learning about the virus, we are still learning about what it means for our health to have antibodies to this virus. If you’ve had COVID-19, the antibodies you made probably protect you from getting COVID-19 again for a while, but it’s not at all clear whether you might be protected for weeks, months, years, or forever.

Antibody tests

Antibody tests look for antibodies in your blood. You may also hear this test referred to as a “serology test,” which just means blood test. If we find antibodies in your blood, that means you have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. This may not be news to you. Or maybe it is! If you had COVID-19, these antibodies can be found in your blood whether you had any symptoms or not. Because it can take your body a couple weeks to make antibodies in response to a new virus, your health care provider will not use an antibody test to diagnose you with COVID-19. They will use a nasal swab that looks for the virus directly.

How many people have antibodies?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other researchers are planning studies to use antibody testing to help learn how common COVID-19 is and how many of us have already been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. These studies may also help us learn how many people get COVID-19 but have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Then we could use that information to help us make decisions around the things we do to keep ourselves safe, like social distancing. You can learn more about this research here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/serology-surveillance/index.html

Can we share antibodies?

Some information suggests that plasma (the liquid part of the blood that has the antibodies in it) from people who have had COVID-19 can help other people recover from COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration is still researching whether plasma from people who have recovered is safe and effective as a treatment for COVID-19. For more information about what the FDA is doing, see: https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/investigational-new-drug-ind-or-device-exemption-ide-process-cber/recommendations-investigational-covid-19-convalescent-plasma 

If you are eligible to donate blood and you have been fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks, you can consider donating plasma, which may help save the lives of people seriously ill from COVID-19 and may help us learn more about these antibodies! You can learn more here: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/donate-covid-19-plasma

Practice compassion.  Even if you haven’t had COVID-19, please consider donating blood! Social distancing and cancelled blood drives have led to a shortage of blood. Please contact your local donation center and schedule a time for physically distant blood donation!

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COVID-19 Update, May 31, 2020       logo

Getting tested for COVID-19

Anyone and everyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested for COVID-19. Testing is an important part of the public health response to this virus. After someone tests positive, we can identify people who have been in close contact with them and keep the close contacts from spreading the virus to others before they get symptoms. If we do this enough, we can stop the virus from spreading in communities.

Although testing capacity has increased, there are still some limitations to testing people as quickly as we would like. Generally, the biggest challenge has been the availability of the supplies needed to collect the sample from your nose — swabs and the viral transport media that goes inside the test tube with your swab.

So, if you have symptoms that seem like they might be COVID-19 (fever, chills, cough), call your health care provider and ask to be tested. Calling before you go in allows the team to make sure they have enough supplies on hand and take other precautions to keep staff and other patients safe. If you don’t have a health care provider, contact an urgent care center near you. If don’t have health insurance, contact your local health jurisdiction. Make sure to wear a facemask or cloth face covering if you go.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will they do?

There are several ways to collect a sample, but, in general, a health care worker will take a sample from the front part of your nose using a swab. They will swirl a swab around both nostrils and then let it sit in your nose for about 15 seconds.

Will it hurt?

It just feels like having a swab in your nose, which is weird, but not usually painful. Sometimes a provider needs to take a sample from the very back of your nose. This is generally like how you might get tested for the flu. That is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t really hurt, and is at least pretty quick.

How much does the test cost? Will my insurance cover it?

There should be no cost to you as a patient for testing, whether you have insurance or not. The state Insurance Commissioner is requiring insurers to waive co-pays and deductibles for COVID-19 testing. If you don’t have health insurance, contact your local health department to find out how to get free testing in your area. Then, when you are feeling better, visit the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to find out if you qualify for free health coverage (Apple Health, Washington’s Medicaid program) or if you qualify to purchase individual health insurance.

When will I get the results?

The results can come back in as quickly as 10 minutes or as long as several days, depending on whether your health care provider can test the sample onsite or whether they need to send it to a lab.

What exactly are we testing for?

The test we use is called a Viral PCR test. It works by detecting the genetic material specific to this virus within all the genetic material in the sample from your nose. It could take about five days after you get exposed to the virus for it to show up enough in a sample from your nose to be detected by this test. So you could have it, but the test may not show it for a while — timing is important for getting an accurate result. If you get a positive result, that confirms that you have or have recently had COVID-19.

When I feel better will I test negative again?

Eventually, yes. But even after all your symptoms go away, the fever is gone, and you are feeling much better, you can still test positive for COVID-19. But that’s not because you are still contagious — it’s because bits of the virus, already beaten up by your immune system, may still be in your nose. We’re still learning about this virus, but as far as we know now, after your symptoms have resolved, and your fever has been gone for three days, you are not contagious even if you test positive again.

Practice compassion.

Getting tested, covering your face, and staying away from other people when you are sick helps keep the virus from spreading. Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Keeping the community healthy is an act of compassion.

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COVID-19 Update, May 30, 2020        logo

Safe Start — Washington’s Phased Reopening

On May 31, the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation will end, and the state will move into a phased reopening plan called Safe Start.

Counties will be able to move between phases as the data demonstrates that it is safe. These decisions will be based on the number of new people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last two weeks, how many people needed to be hospitalized for COVID-19, and how quickly the virus is spreading. We will also look at how much testing is happening in the county, the ability of the county to immediately contact people as they are diagnosed with COVID-19, and the readiness of the health care system.

My county is in Phase 1.

All Phase 1 counties can apply to move to a modified Phase 1, which would include these activities:

  • Outdoor recreation and fitness classes with five or fewer people outside the household.
  • Gatherings of five or fewer people outside the household.
  • Outdoor dining at restaurants at 50% of existing outdoor seating capacity.
  • Limited capacity pet grooming, real estate, and other professional and personal services.
  • Additional construction, manufacturing, and photography as outlined in Phase 2 guidance.
  • In-store retail at 15% of building capacity.

My county’s already in Phase 2.

Counties that have been in Phase 2 for at least three weeks can apply to move to Phase 3. The earliest a county could move is June 3. Phase 3 allows gatherings of fewer than 50 people, non-essential travel, and opening of libraries, museums, and more. Find the details on the governor’s website.

Once my county gets to a new phase, can it move backwards?

Yes, if the virus is spreading rapidly within a county, for all our safety, a county may need to return to an earlier phase until the virus is more under control.

Returning to public life.

As we return to public life, here are some things to remember to keep you and your family safe:

When you are around people who are not from your household, you are safer outdoors than indoors.

  • The longer you are around people not from your household, the higher your risk.
  • The more people you are around who are not from your household, the higher your risk.
  • Stay six feet away from other people all the time.
  • Cover your face when you are in public, especially indoors.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer. Get those hands clean before they try to wander towards your face.
  • Don’t touch your face or mess with your mask while you are wearing it.
  • Shirt. Shoes. Keys. Phone. Wallet. Mask. Hand sanitizer. Don’t worry, you’ll get in the groove of public life again eventually.

Practice compassion

People have different levels of willingness to take risks. Be kind with your friends and family who find that they would prefer to stay home and stay healthy a bit longer.

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COVID-19 Update, May 29, 2020     logo

Returning to child care

Some child cares have remained open so that essential workers and health care workers can go to work. With summer coming, we have just updated guidance on how child cares, summer day camps, and youth programs can operate safely during the COVID-19 epidemic. This guidance does not address overnight camps, youth sports and athletics, or activities included as part of K-12 basic education or special education programs.

An important part operating a safe child care is serving fewer kids than might have been served before COVID-19. The more people interact with others from outside their own household, the closer that interaction, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Families who are still able to keep their children and youth home should continue to do so. This won’t be possible for everyone, especially as more and more businesses reopen. If your kids do go to child care, make sure to send them only to programs in your local geographic area.

When you drop your child off at child care, you will need to take their temperature, either at home or onsite. You will also need to answer the following questions:

Does your child/youth have any of the following symptoms:

  • A cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • A fever of 100.4° F or higher or a sense of having a fever
  • A sore throat
  • Chills
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Congestion/running nose — not related to seasonal allergies
  • Unusual fatigue

Does anyone in your household have any of the above symptoms?

Has your child/youth been in close contact with anyone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

Has your child/youth had any medication to reduce a fever before coming to care?

If your child does get sick, he or she will need to stay home. Your child can return to child care in 10 days as long as their fever has been gone for at least 72 hours by that time and their other symptoms have all improved.

If your child has had close contact with someone with COVID-19, but they are not sick, keep them home and watch their health for signs of fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other COVID-19 symptoms during the 14 days after the last day they were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. They should not go to child care or other public places for 14 days.

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inslee news 5.28 

NEWS RELEASE

May 28, 2020

Contact:

Joint Information Center
253-512-7100
wajic@mil.wa.gov

Two additional counties approved to move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan

Camp Murray, WA — Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved variance applications for Clallam and Kitsap counties to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

A total of 26 counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, and Whitman.

Klickitat County remains eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2. The application from Clark County remains on pause due to an outbreak investigation.

wamap 5.28

Businesses approved to move into Phase 2 must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.

To apply for a variance, counties must have an average of less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for:

  • Making testing available and accessible to everyone in the county with symptoms.
  • Staffing case investigations and contact tracing.
  • Housing people in isolation or quarantine who can’t or don’t want to do so at home.
  • Providing case management services to those in isolation and quarantine.
  • Responding rapidly to outbreaks in congregate settings.

The variance requests are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the variance can be revoked.

Learn more about county variances and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Individuals can also find COVID-19 information on the Department of Health’s website or call 1-800-525-0127. Individuals can text the word “coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on their phone wherever they are.

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 COVID-19 Update, May 28, 2020      logo

Coping with quarantine

As we gradually increase the amount of time we spend in public life, some us may get exposed to COVID-19. If someone you know tests positive for COVID-19 and you have had close contact with that person, the health department will ask you to stay in your home for 14 days. If quarantining in your home is not possible for you, then they will help you find a safe place to stay. Here are some things to remember about quarantine.

Why am I being asked to quarantine? You are being asked to quarantine because you have been exposed to COVID-19. We don’t know if you will get sick or not. Not everyone who gets exposed to a virus catches the virus.

  • If you do get COVID-19, you will be contagious during the 2-3 days before you get symptoms—before you even know you have it!
  • Almost everyone who gets symptoms of COVID-19 will get them within 14 days. Most people will get symptoms around 5-7 days after being exposed.
  • The purpose of the quarantine is to keep you from spreading COVID-19 to others between the time when you learn someone you know has tested positive for COVID-19 and when you develop symptoms.

I feel fine. Yes! You feel well during quarantine! Since quarantine happens before you get any symptoms of COVID-19, you feel like you normally do during quarantine.

  • Since you might develop symptoms of COVID-19 over the next 14 days, you might want to prepare for a time when you don’t feel that well. Line up some deliveries of things that comfort you when you are sick. Fever reducer, gripping novels, that chicken soup with the little stars in it.
  • You feel well, but keep your expectations low around productivity. If you already work from home, you can continue that. But maybe don’t set too many other goals for this time. Quarantine is a stressful time. The uncertainty around whether you have caught COVID-19 and the daily monitoring of your health may make it difficult to focus on too much.

14 days is a long time. Find ways to reduce stress while counting down the days.

  • Consider how you will help the children count down the days. Would they like to make a chain out of 14 construction paper rings and tear one off each day? Can they count down the days on a calendar? Is there a special treat they can have each day of quarantine?
  • Reach out to your friends and family. Don’t let the chaos and noise of social media define your whole social life! Those real connections will help you deal with uncertainty and stress. Asking for help is hard, but people love to help! Maybe they have great ideas for entertaining kids at home or recommendations for your Netflix queue. Remember, your friends and family are worried about you and this quarantine. They need frequent updates anyway.
  • This may be a good time to begin some small practices that can help with stress, like using a meditation app or starting a gratitude journal—each day write down three things from the day you are grateful for.

What happens at the end of 14 days? If you developed symptoms of COVID-19 during your time in quarantine, you will need to continue to isolate yourself until the fever has been gone for 3 days and your other symptoms have cleared up. If you did not develop symptoms, you will likely be able to rejoin public life. If your situation requires something different, the local health department will let you know.

Essential workers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that allows essential workers to continue to work after they have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, if they do not feel sick and if they take the following steps to protect the community and their coworkers:

  • The employee must take their temperature every day before starting work.
  • The employee must wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. This can be a face mask issued by the employer or, if these are not available, the employee can wear a cloth face covering.
  • The employee needs to maintain six feet of distance between themselves and other people as work duties permit in the workplace.
  • The employer should clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared equipment routinely.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 26, there are 335,801 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 20,406 people (or 6.1%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,095 people (or 5.4%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Finding intentional ways to be kind to others can improve your mood and help manage stress. Every day, go out of your way to be kind to someone else.

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COVID-19 Update, May 27, 2020      logo 

You are not alone

Isolation is not good for us. We need each other for support and for fun, especially when we are dealing with the stress of a pandemic, financial uncertainties, and worries about our health or our loved ones’ health. The phased approach to opening the state—slow and careful to make sure we control the spread of the virus—is important not just for our economic growth but also for our mental health. It’s important to see our friends and family. From six feet away and wearing a cloth face covering.

It’s important for all us to take care of our mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is a time when we remember that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. If you are one of these 20% of Americans, know you are not alone. Here are some ways to support your mental health.

  • Take care of your body. Start with the basics. Eat nourishing meals; get 30 minutes of physical activity every day; get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Take a moment to breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Take care of your brain. If you are being treated for a mental health condition, make sure that you continue to take your medication as prescribed. Sign up to have refills delivered to your house. Does your therapist or mental health care provider offer telehealth appointments? The COVID-19 pandemic may have you feeling more anxiety or more isolated. Check with your health care provider to see if your medication dosage is still appropriate.
  • Do something fun. Make sure to take time every day to do something you find fun or creative. Take a walk in the sunshine, enjoy nature, play a game, or work on a favorite hobby. Or if fun is too much for today, maybe take a shower. Drink some water. Take some deep breaths. 
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about how you are feeling. Stay virtually connected with friends, family, and neighbors when you aren’t able to see them in person. Keep in touch with people who care for you and who you know you can contact for support if your mental health declines.
  • Don’t try to do everything today. If you are feeling overwhelmed, decide what must get done today and what can wait. Your schedule may change and your priorities may shift and that is okay. Recognize what you have accomplished at the end of the day.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 25, there are 332,791 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 20,181 people (or 6.1%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,078 people (or 5.3%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental illness each year. Mental or emotional illness can feel isolating, but none of us is alone.

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COVID-19 Update, May 26, 2020          logo

Staying home with teenagers

Remember that time we had just stocked up on Aqua Net and disposable cameras when they canceled prom and graduation; and, we had to stay at home for weeks and learn how to do our homework over dial up internet? Me neither.

This is new for all of us.

Our teens are experiencing things we never experienced. What are your favorite memories of being a teenager? Sports? Canceled. Hanging out with your friends? Stay 6 feet away. Parties? No gatherings. Getting a movie from Blockbuster? Closed. (Not because of the pandemic, but still.)

We can’t rely on our own life experiences to understand how this is affecting our kids. We are learning how to live in this new world along with our teens. Listen to them. Ask them questions. What is it like to be them? Some of these teens are essential workers. As they are providing essential services to their communities, they’re learning to weigh risks to themselves and risks to their loved ones. These are heavy responsibilities that we didn’t have to think about when we first got afterschool jobs.

We all have the same emotions, but we don’t all have the same tools.

Help your teens notice how they feel and what they have control over. How does your body and your energy level feel after you’ve been playing video games for so long? How do you feel after getting some exercise?

It’s not necessary to sugarcoat difficult facts or try to get your teens to see the bright side of difficult situations all the time. It’s okay for them to feel their full range of emotions. Help them express those emotions in a way that isn’t hurtful to others. Be there to talk about it. Help them name their emotions and figure out what’s the best thing they can do next.

Spend time with your teen. Sometimes the best times to talk are when you are in the middle of doing something else. Teach them to cook. To do their own laundry. To write a check. To unclog a drain. And be ready to listen wherever and whenever they are ready to talk.

We are learning to live with uncertainty.

Things that don’t change have changed. Our daily lives have changed. Markers of the seasons and major life events have been canceled. Higher education looks different. The prospect of getting a job looks different. Our teens are learning about themselves and about what it’s like to live with the unknown. They will face other uncertain times in their lives—unwelcome diagnoses, divorce, job loss, financial troubles. Take this time to teach them ways to find the strength and patience to live with uncertainty.

Practice compassion. Our teens are watching us and learning how to interpret what’s going on through us. Teach them to care about others. Sometimes caring looks like volunteering for a local charity organization, and sometimes it looks like staying home.

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COVID-19 Update, May 25, 2020          logo

Don’t be fooled by COVID-19 misinformation

The World Health Organization has said that not only do we have a pandemic, but we also have an infodemic going on. An infodemic is too much information — some accurate and some not — that makes it hard for people to tell the difference between reliable information and harmful speculation. Don’t get fooled by misinformation!

Help us bust these common myths

FACT: 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19

COVID-19 has nothing to do with 5G. Viruses cannot travel on radio waves or mobile networks. Also, COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings or speaks.

FACT: The government IS NOT going to force some people into quarantine facilities.

Public health officials regularly ask people who are sick with an infectious disease, or who may have been exposed to an infectious disease, to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. This strategy has been used for decades to combat the spread of tuberculosis, measles, Ebola, and SARS. Our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with other infectious diseases, shows the vast majority of people we ask are willing to follow recommendations and isolate or quarantine themselves. Isolation and quarantine at home continues to be the best option and our recommendation for those who can do so safely. All of these actions are voluntary and confidential.

FACT: COVID-19 DOES NOT spread easily from pets to people.

There have been a small number of pets worldwide reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. It does look like people can spread COVID-19 to their pets, but it does not look like it’s very easy for people to get COVID-19 from their pets. Treat pets more or less as you would human family members — do not let pets interact with people or animals outside the household. If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.

FACT: Cloth face coverings WILL NOT decrease your oxygen.

Your cloth face covering is not airtight. It will not keep you from breathing or prevent you from getting enough oxygen. If you ever feel like you’re having trouble breathing, remove the cloth face covering and sit down. If the feeling persists, call 911.

FACT: All the counties in the state WILL (probably) NOT be open June 1.

The governor is working to figure out what the next steps will be as we move closer to May 31, when his current order expires. We will continue to open slowly and cautiously, making decisions that are driven by public health data and science. Counties that continue to have large numbers of people with COVID-19 are not in a position to open up stores, restaurants and services safely yet.

FACT: Camping at state parks IS NOT allowed (yet!)

Spending time outside is good for our physical and mental health. Most state lands and parks are now open for day use; camping at state parks is still not allowed. Here are some reminders about how to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 at the park:

  • Stay local. Find a place to hike, picnic, or take a walk that is close to home. Please avoid traveling outside your own county borders to popular destinations
  • Avoid crowded areas. Public gatherings are still not allowed.
  • Enjoy the outdoors with people in your immediate household.
  • Follow physical distancing and etiquette rules, such as wearing a cloth face covering and staying six feet apart from others.

Practice compassion

Misinformation can cause fear and anxiety, and we have enough of that already. Take care of your friends and family by making sure to pass on information from credible sources.

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COVID-19 Update, May 24, 2020          logo

Moving to the Next Phase 

Through the Washington Safe Start plan, businesses and activities are reopening slowly and cautiously in phases. Each phase will last at least three weeks, and may be longer depending on how the changes affect the number of new infections and deaths we see. Right now, most of the state is in Phase 1, but eligible counties can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of Safe Start before other parts of the state.

What Phase is my county in?

The secretary of health is busy reviewing applications right now. As of Saturday afternoon, a total of 21 counties have been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum and Whitman.

Three counties are in Phase 1, but eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2: Clallam, Kitsap, and Thurston.

All the remaining counties are in Phase 1. Applications from Kittitas and Clark counties are on pause until further discussion next week due to outbreak investigations.

What’s the difference between Phase 1 and Phase 2?

In Phase 2, small, physically distanced gatherings of fewer than 5 people outside your household are allowed. Also, businesses such as nannies, housecleaning, hair and nail salons, barbers, and pet grooming are allowed to open. Restaurants can open at less than 50 percent capacity, with tables that seat no more than 5. Camping with groups of fewer than 5 people outside your household is allowed. And office-based businesses can resume, although telework continues to be highly encouraged.

In both Phase 1 and 2, people who are age 65 or older or have a chronic illness that puts them at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 need to stay home and stay healthy. Learn more about the specifics of these phases.

OK, I need some of that Phase 2 stuff. I’ll just go to one of those counties.

If you live in a county that is in Phase 1, most nonessential travel is restricted for you. That means you are not supposed to travel to a county with fewer restrictions to get your hair cut or take advantage of other services opening. Even if you feel healthy, traveling from a part of the state that is more populated and has more disease circulating means you risk bringing the virus with you.

How does my county get to go to Phase 2?

Counties are invited to apply for a variance when they meet certain public health criteria. The application process involves making sure there is agreement and support for moving to Phase 2 among the local health officer, the county board of health, the board of county commissioners, and the local hospitals. In the application, the county must demonstrate that it has adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate masks, gloves, and gowns to keep health care workers safe.

The application must include plans for:

  • Making testing available and accessible to everyone in the county with symptoms.

  • Staffing case investigations and contact tracing.

  • Housing people in isolation or quarantine who can’t or don’t want to do so at home.

  • Providing case management services to those in isolation and quarantine.

  • Responding rapidly to outbreaks in congregate settings.

The variance requests are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications, or deny applications. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the variance can be revoked.

When will my county be eligible to apply?

The quickest way to reopen is to control the virus. More counties — and even the whole state — will be able to move to Phase 2 quicker if we all stay home as much as possible, cover our faces in public, wash our hands, and use hand sanitizer.

The state is still considering additional options to support different regional needs in reopening. Learn more about county variances and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Practice compassion

We are reopening the state as carefully as we can, but this may be a scary time for some people, especially those of us at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Be respectful of all kinds of reactions to this gradual reopening. This pandemic has affected each of us in different ways.

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COVID-19 Update, May 23, 2020          logo

Support your mental health by taking control of your social media 

What does your social media feed look like? Are you using it as a great way to stay connected to your loved ones? For a lot of us, the amount of time we spend on social media has gone up as we’ve done our best to stay home and physically distanced from our friends and family.

 

 

Sometimes, spending extra time on social media can cause worry, anxiety, and a feeling of exhaustion. Here are some ways to adjust your social media habits to support your mental and emotional well-being.

Limit the amount of time you spend on social media

If you find that what you see on social media makes you feel anxious or frustrated, turn it off. Take a few minutes — or even a weekend — to step away and do something else. If this turns out to be a pattern for you, generally limit the amount of time you spend on social media and news outlets.

Follow things that make you happy

Although social media can be a “noisy” place, there are ways to control what you hear and see. Intentionally follow people or organizations that bring you joy. On Instagram, that might be hashtags such as #covidmentalhealth, #mindfulness, and #copingskills. They show positive and supportive messages from people all over the world who share their mental and emotional health experiences. Or maybe you prefer photos of birds, videos of goats doing yoga, or posts from your latest epidemiologist crush (#faucifan). Whatever works for you! When you begin following a few accounts that you like, the social media platform will begin suggesting similar content. You can adjust what you follow as you go.

Unfollow, hide, or mute accounts that upset you

We all have that friend or relative who posts things that we find offensive, untrue, misleading, or just plain infuriating. Yes, we love them, but when it comes to their social media presence, we just can’t stand them. Learn how to unfollow, mute, and hide your social media connections. We won’t tell.

Share what you would want to see

One of the best ways to make social media a more positive experience is to share the kinds of things that make you happy, or that you find meaningful, and avoid sharing the types of messages that you find stressful. One approach is to apply an “in-person” test: Before posting, sharing, or commenting, ask yourself, “Is this something I would say to a friend in person?” If no, maybe it is best to hold off.

Spread facts not fear

Misinformation or wrong information about COVID-19 creates fear and makes it harder for people to stay healthy. Misinformation about groups of people or communities also creates fear and bad actions that make it harder to keep everyone healthy. Paired together, they are even more dangerous. Use your social media presence to spread factual information from credible sources and help keep everyone in your community safe.

Practice compassion

Use social media for meaningful connections. Many social media platforms have features to help you find reading groups, cooking clubs, and other communities that share similar interests. You can also set up your own group and invite friends and family to join. Or, jump out of the crowd and connect one-on-one, even just to share a cute or funny meme.

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COVID-19 Update, May 21, 2020          logo 

Keep your hands clean

We are still learning a lot about COVID-19. What we know now is that this virus spreads easily—more easily than the flu—from person to person when we are within about 6 feet of each other. It travels in respiratory droplets produced when we cough, sneeze, talk, or sing. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus while talking or singing.

Although it may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, COVID-19 does not spread easily that way. And you can prevent that kind of exposure by being sure to wash your hands before you touch your face.

If your skin is healthy and you don’t touch your face, you can’t get COVID-19 just by touching something with the virus on it. So for most situations—like driving, running errands, using an ATM, pumping gas, or pushing a shopping cart—wearing gloves is not a helpful way to protect yourself. It would be more helpful to use hand sanitizer frequently while running errands and be careful not to touch your face. Then, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when you get home!

There are some times when you should wear gloves:

  • When you are cleaning and disinfecting your home. Look at the labels on your cleaning products. They may recommend that you wear gloves while using them. Be sure to open a window or turn on a fan to keep fresh air moving in the room you are cleaning.
  • If you are caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 at home, use disposable gloves when cleaning the area around the person who is sick and when touching anything that had body fluids on it. Do not try to disinfect or reuse the gloves. Throw them away and wash your hands.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 19, there are 297,942 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 18,971 people (or 6.4%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,037 people (or 5.5%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. As counties move into Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan, small gatherings of fewer than 5 people outside a household will be allowed. As you plan and look forward to these small gatherings, protect your friends and family by planning for at least 6 feet of space around each person.

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COVID-19 Update, May 19, 2020         logo 

 EMS is open for business; Still there when you need help. 

Emergency Medical System (EMS) responders are on medicine’s “front line” 24-hours a day, seven days a week. During an emergency, they bring us immediate, life-saving care. This combination of sophisticated care delivery and immediate treatment can make a huge difference in how we recover.

During normal times, being an EMS responder ranks among the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. EMTs and paramedics are exposed to dangerous situations and illnesses every day. And these are not normal times. Now EMS responders are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 30 percent of EMS responders in Washington are volunteers. The rural areas of our state rely on dedicated community members who volunteer to be on call to respond to their neighbor’s emergencies. EMS responders are certified by the Department of Health and work under the oversight and direction of a county Medical Program Director who is a physician. All EMS responders, whether they are paid or volunteer, are required to attend many hours of annual training and drills to maintain their skills.

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, EMS responders continue to deliver emergency care. However, some people with medical emergencies are not calling 911 when they need it because they are worried about getting exposed to COVID-19 in an ambulance or hospital. Unfortunately, that has led to an increase in the number of people dying at home — often unnecessarily. EMS leaders are reporting that those seeking help are significantly sicker because they are waiting longer to call 911, especially those experiencing cardiac events or strokes.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Our emergency medical responders are doing everything they can to make it safe for you. To help keep patients and crews safe during the COVID-19 response, they are wearing additional protection, including gowns, masks, and face shields. Ambulances were previously disinfected after each patient, and now they are getting even more decontamination. There is no need to be concerned about calling for help when you need it.

Practice compassion. May 17–23 is EMS Week! Now, more than ever, we thank these brave men and women who are there for us, often on the worst day of our lives. Please thank the EMS heroes in your community by sending your best wishes for their safety and health.

Oh, and don’t hesitate to call 911 in a medical emergency,

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inslee guidance

 May 19, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee issues additional guidance for real estate and fitness operations in Phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee today issued guidancefor resuming real estate and fitness operations in Phase 2.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in phases, withadequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks.

Additionally,counties with less than 10 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over a 14-day spancan apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health.Ten counties have received the variance.

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, real estate operations may resume, effective May 19.

Guidance documents:

Inslee also released guidance today regarding fitness and training operations, which may resume, effective May 19.

Full list of guidance for all current businesses.

 

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COVID-19 Update, May 19, 2020        logo

Cloth Face Coverings

Although there is currently no statewide requirement to wear face coverings, Public Health—Seattle & King County recently directed all residents of King County to wear cloth face coverings in public places. This seems like a good time to review the Do’s and Don’ts of wearing cloth face coverings.

DO cover your face with a couple layers of cloth while in public places.

DO wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put your mask on and after you take it off.

DO wash your cloth face covering in a washing machine after a day’s use.

DO take a cloth face covering with you if you are hiking or visiting a park. Although you do not need to wear one outside, you may find that you need to come within 6 feet of someone else on a trail. At that point, put your cloth face covering on, say hello, and carry on.

DO make sure the cloth face covering covers both your mouth and nose.

DON’T wear surgical-grade masks or N95 respirators. We need to reserve those for health care and other frontline workers.

DON’T think that wearing cloth face masks means we can gather in large groups of people. For most of the state, all gatherings are prohibited. For the counties that are in Phase 2, all gatherings of more than 5 people outside your household are prohibited. 

DON’T think that wearing a cloth face mask makes it safe to come within six feet of other people. At best, a cloth face covering is just one added level of precaution. It doesn’t really help unless we are also washing our hands, staying home when we are sick, and practicing physical distancing.

DON’T wear a cloth face covering while exercising outdoors. It’s not dangerous, just annoying and not necessary.

DON’T put a cloth face covering on a child under age 2 or on a person with a disability that keeps them from being able to remove it.

DON’T touch your cloth face covering after you put it on. Try not to touch your face at all.

DON’T worry that a cloth face covering might restrict your oxygen. It’s not airtight. If you ever feel like you’re having trouble breathing, remove the cloth face covering and sit down. If the feeling persists, call 911.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 18, there are 289,135 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 18,811 people (or 6.4%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 1,031 people (or 5.5%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Remember, wearing a cloth face covering is an act of compassion. We cover our faces to protect others. There is no public health reason to wear a cloth face covering if you are alone in your car, in your own home, or around members of your own household. (Unless you just want to because it’s comfortable and looks awesome. That’s cool.)

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Inslee

May 19, 2020

Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee announces expanded county variance criteria and Working WA Small Business Grants

5.19 Counties eligible to move to phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced new criteria for additional counties to apply for variances to move to Phase 2 of the state’sSafe Startrecovery plan.

Under the plan, smaller countiescan apply for a variancefrom the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide. Counties are now eligible to apply if they haveless than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span.

Under the new criteria, 10 additional counties will be eligible to applyfor a variance. They are:

  • Adams
  • Clark
  • Clallam
  • Island
  • Kitsap
  • Lewis
  • Mason
  • Thurston
  • San Juan
  • Spokane

Thenew criteriaare similar to the guidance released by the CDC for reopening regions nationwide. Increasing the counties eligible for variance will allow for increased economic activity around the state while also prioritizing the health and safety of workers and customers to limit the spread of COVID-19.

As of Monday, 10 counties have already been approved to move into Phase 2. Twenty-two counties in the state are eligible in total. Combined, these counties represent 30% of the state.

Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.


 

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COVID Update, May 19, 2020             logo

Talk like a public health professional;
Commonly-confused terms and phrases

 Have you been talking so much about COVID-19 to your family and friends that you’re starting to sound like a professional? We’re so proud of you! Are you ready to take your usage of technical language to the next level? Don’t fall for these commonly-confused public health terms and phrases.

“It’s at epidemic proportions!”

Illness is a sad fact of life. We know at any given time some people are going to be sick. In fact, for many illnesses, we know about how many people are likely to be sick at a given time. That’s not the number of people we would like to see ill, but it’s how many usually are. Technically speaking, an epidemic is when more people are sick than we expect. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread across different countries or continents. The phrase “at epidemic proportions” is just a non-public-health way of saying there is a lot of something.

So many ways to stay in your house: quarantine vs. isolation, close contact vs. confirmed case

The governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order has had us at home for the last 6 weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. Technically though, most of us haven’t been in quarantine; we’ve just been staying home. When a person has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, they may or may not get it themselves. We may not know if they have caught it or are able to spread COVID-19 until they get symptoms. By the time they have symptoms, they may already have spread it. To prevent this, public health workers ask people who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 to stay in their homes for 14 days to see whether they develop symptoms. This is a quarantine and applies to people who are not currently sick. If someone has tested positive for COVID-19, public health workers also ask them to stay in their homes to avoid spreading it. We refer to this as isolation and it applies to people who are currently sick or recovering from COVID-19.

If you have been within six feet of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 for longer than 10 minutes when they may have been contagious, this makes you a close contact. You may not have any symptoms and may not even be infected with COVID-19. But since there is a chance you have caught it and could spread it before you feel sick, public health workers will ask you to quarantine for 14 days. If you test positive for COVID-19, this makes you a confirmed case and public health workers will ask you to isolate yourself until you are well.

How sick are you? Asymptomatic or presymptomatic; mild or serious illness

If you have COVID-19, you may be asymptomatic which means you have no symptoms. Most likely, you don’t have any symptoms yetPresymptomatic is a more accurate way to say you don’t have any symptoms yet. People who are presymptomatic may still be able to spread COVID-19.

Once you have symptoms, hopefully, like most people, you’ll have mild illness. You can definitely spread COVID-19 easily to others at this point. Your mild illness may still make you feel miserable; you may have a fever and cough and feel exhausted. But, you’ll be able to tend to your illness without going to the hospital. Serious illness means you need hospital care. You may have a lot of trouble breathing or need supplemental oxygen.

Practice compassion.

Seeing others as people who matter just as much as you do is compassion. It’s taking concrete steps to help someone else physically, mentally, or emotionally. You know what to do. Reach out and help someone today.

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JIC

NEWS RELEASE

May 18, 2020

Contact:

Joint Information Center
253-512-7100
wajic@mil.wa.gov

Asotin County approved to move to phase two of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan

Camp Murray, WA — Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved the variance application for Asotin County to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan. This brings the total to 10 counties.

Safe Start WA County Status 5.18

Businesses in the counties approved to move into Phase 2 must wait to reopen until guidance has been released for their industry on how to keep workers and the public safe. They must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in that guidance to reopen.

To apply for a variance, counties must have a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of COVID-19 in the last three weeks. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for:

  • Making testing available and accessible to everyone in the county with symptoms
  • Staffing case investigations and contact tracing
  • Housing people in isolation or quarantine who can’t or don’t want to do so at home
  • Providing case management services to those in isolation and quarantine
  • Responding rapidly to outbreaks in congregate settings.

The variance requests are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the variance can be revoked.

The state is still considering additional options to support different regional needs in reopening. Learn more about county variances and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Individuals can also find COVID-19 information on the Department of Health’s website or call 1-800-525-0127. Individuals can text the word “coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on their phone wherever they are.

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COVID Update, May 18, 2020            logo

 Keep Your Germs to Yourself! No One Wants to Get Sick.

One of the scariest parts of getting sick is the worry that you might make others sick. Most people who get COVID-19 will have mild illness and recover. Much of the work of public health is designed to help you recover without passing the virus on to your loved ones who may get very sick or die.

Even when we feel healthy, there are things we do to protect others just in case we may be coming down with COVID-19 and not know it yet. We wash our hands thoroughly and frequently, we use hand sanitizer, we stay more than six feet away from other people, we wear cloth face coverings in public, we stay home if we feel sick.

If you or someone you have had close contact with tests positive for COVID-19, public health professionals will ask you to stay in your home and avoid any contact with other people. This will help make sure you do not make anyone else sick. This is the same thing that we currently do — and have done for decades — if someone gets tuberculosis, measles, or other highly contagious dangerous infectious diseases. We ask them to stay home and not have contact with other people.

If public health asks you to stay home and away from other people, this is confidential and voluntary. However, no one wants to get anyone else sick. The vast majority of people who have COVID-19 or other infectious diseases are very willing to follow public health recommendations and stay home and away from other people. Public health professionals work to make sure that people with COVID-19 can stay in their homes safely and have everything they need, like groceries or medications.

It’s generally best when people who are sick stay in their own homes, but some people are not able to stay safely in their homes. Maybe they don’t have a home or maybe someone else in their household is immune compromised. In these cases, public health works to provide a safe space for anyone who needs one. Generally people who need a space like this are staying there voluntarily to keep from spreading COVID-19 to their family and their community and because it isn’t safe to stay in their own homes.

Practice compassion. Even if you feel well, keep doing the things that keep yourself and others safe — wash your hands, stay more than six feet away from others who are not in your household, and stay home if you feel sick.

More information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.govAnswers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week. Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week.

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COVID Update, May 17, 2020            logo

The Power of Resilience

Resilience is the skill that allows us to adapt to a crisis while it is happening and then emerge emotionally stronger than before. This public health crisis is a time of stress, worry, grief. Some of us have lost people we love. Physical isolation wears on us and it can feel never-ending.

But. There are hopeful moments too. What are the moments of joy you will remember from this time?

Is it nature that brings you strength?

Long, beautiful sunny days? Watching the flowers bloom? Keeping a list of all the birds you’ve seen? Taking a walk just to see how many different kinds of bumblebees you can find?

Did you learn something new?

Have you given or received a pandemic haircut? Have you adopted a sourdough starter? Did you learn more than you thought possible about big cats and roadside zoos?

Have there been unexpected moments of connection?

Have you found new ways to show your friends you care about them? Are you having more giggly game nights with the kids? Have you given up on ever figuring out how to sew your own mask only to have beautiful homemade masks show up on your doorstep from a craftier friend who cares about you? Have you Zoomed with toddlers? With grandparents? With your oldest friends who live so far away?

Have you done something fun you never would have had time for before?

Camping in the backyard? Long bike rides? Waffles on a weekday? Dog walks and cuddles in the middle of the day?

Have you returned to old habits that bring you joy but get sidelined in the daily grind?

Do you play music? Do you do puzzles? Maybe sewing is a source of joy and not frustration for you? Have you read books and caught up on old movies? Are you planting a garden? There is sweetness in this tough time. And noticing it and reveling in it builds your resilience to the stress and grief of this pandemic. These are the things that make us strong.

Practice compassion. Take some time today to reach out to someone you love and create an unexpected moment of connection. You and your loved one will both be more resilient for it.

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COVID Update, May 16, 2020            logo

Blame and Mistrust Hurt People. Help Spread Hope and Connection.

Misinformation about COVID-19 can create fear and make it harder to keep everyone healthy. There are still many unknowns about this new virus. When we don’t know something, especially if we are anxious or afraid, we can become vulnerable to misinformation.

Misinformation can lead to blaming others for situations we find frightening or anxiety provoking. Others like our government, people of different races or ethnicities, scientists, people who are working, people who are not working, people who are not following the rules like we think they should. Some of the early information about COVID-19 contributed to prejudice and discrimination against Asian communities. This was unfair and hurtful. We need to spread good information and reduce blame to reduce the harm caused to those communities and make sure we do not similarly harm other communities.

Blame and misinformation can lead to (viral) conspiracy theories, which lead to more blame, fear, and mistrust. Sometimes this misinformation creates mistrust of the very interventions that will allow us to control the epidemic. Controlling COVID-19 is the fastest way to reopen the state. Help spread hope and connection instead of fear and misinformation:

  • Rely on and share trusted sources of information.
  • Speak up if you hear, see, or read stigmatizing or harassing comments or misinformation.
  • Show compassion and support for individuals and communities affected by COVID-19.
  • Do not make assumptions about someone’s health status based on their ethnicity, race, or national origin. None of us are as healthy as we can be until all our communities are as healthy as they can be.
  • Report discrimination. State, county, and city governments and other organizations often have a place to report discrimination, including:
  • Washington State Human Rights Commission Under the law, everyone has the right to be free from discrimination at work, in housing, in a public accommodation, or when seeking credit and insurance. Any individual who believes that they have been discriminated against based on protected class status may file a charge of discrimination by employers, housing providers, and businesses.

Practice compassion. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors influence those around us. Talk openly about the harm of stigma. Check your own stigmas and biases, and stay updated and informed on COVID-19.

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Press Release May 15, 2020

5.15 Media Release pp.1

5.15 Media Release pp. 2

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Inslee

May 15, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee issues additional guidance for construction, golf and photography in Phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee today issued guidancefor construction, golf and photography in Phase 2.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in phases, withadequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks.

Additionally,counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health.Nine counties have received the variance.

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, all construction, including new work, is allowed, effective May 15.

Guidance documents:

Inslee also released guidance today regarding professional photography services which may resume, effective May 15, for counties approved to move to Phase 2.

Guidance documents:

Today's guidelines on golf updates the original guidance for golf requirements in Phase 1. For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, additional golf activities may resume effective May 15.

Guidance documents:

Earlier today, Inslee also released a statement and guidance on voluntary contact information as part of phased reopening.

Full list of guidance for all current businesses.

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JIC

MEDIA STATEMENT

May 15, 2020

Contact:

Joint Information Center
253-512-7100
wajic@mil.wa.gov

Statement on misinformation circulating about quarantine orders and facilities in Washington state

Statement from John Wiesman, Secretary of Health and Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer

The Department of Health is aware of rumors and misinformation circulating about quarantine orders and specialized quarantine facilities.

Public health officials regularly ask people who are sick with an infectious disease or may have been exposed to an infectious disease to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. This strategy has been used for decades to combat the spread of tuberculosis, measles, Ebola and SARS. Our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and with other infectious diseases shows the vast majority of people we ask are willing to follow recommendations and isolate or quarantine themselves. Isolation and quarantine at home continues to be the best option and our recommendation for those who can do so safely. However, all of these actions are voluntary and confidential, despite the misinformation being spread by some.

We hope people will continue to protect their families and communities by following public health recommendations. We are striving to:

  • provide timely and accurate information
  • ensure access to services for those who need them to make staying at home possible
  • provide a safe space for anyone who needs one

The authority to involuntary isolate or quarantine an individual rests with local health officers. Each local health jurisdiction in Washington has plans and processes in place should involuntary isolation or quarantine be needed. This authority is rarely used as a last resort when someone is intentionally putting others at risk. We believe any facilities included in local health plans are most likely to be used by people who are willing to voluntarily isolate or quarantine but don’t have a safe place available to do so. Again, nearly everyone sick with COVID-19 or exposed to COVID-19 is willing to follow public health recommendations voluntarily. We greatly appreciate the willingness of people in Washington to protect others in their community.

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Inslee

May 14, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee issues additional guidance for outdoor recreation in Phase 1 and Phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee today issued guidance clarifying Phase 1 outdoor recreation requirements, and set forth outdoor recreation guidance for Phase 2.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in phases, withadequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks.

Additionally,counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health.Eight counties have received the variance.

Today's guidelines build on the original outdoor recreation requirements released on April 27. For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, additional recreational activities may resume effective May 14.

Guidance documents:

Full list of guidance for all current businesses.

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COVID Update, May 14, 2020         logo

Telehealth

Physical distancing has taught us how to do so much of our daily lives online! We’re learning how to grocery shop, do our jobs, go to school, hang out with friends and family, all without leaving our favorite screen. It’s about time we learn how to get our health care over the computer too.

 What is telehealth?

Telehealth is any use of electronic communications to get health care when you and the doctor aren’t in the same place at the same time. If you have a phone or a device with the internet, you already have everything you need to do telehealth!

I do have this thing I thought I’d get checked out after the pandemic is over.

If you have a health concern, don’t ignore it or delay care. It’s important to take care of ourselves now, especially since pandemic-related stress and anxiety can make other health problems harder to deal with. Besides, taking great care of ourselves now keeps us out of the hospital or emergency room later!

It’s kind of a weird thing. I’m pretty sure they can’t help me without seeing me in person.

That could be, but you may be surprised by what’s possible using telehealth. Some health care providers are using telehealth for wellness visits, prescriptions for medicine, diagnosing and treating skin conditions, eye exams, mental health counseling, sinusitis, or back pain.

I’m not sure my doctor does this. 

Maybe not, but call and ask. Even if your doctor didn’t previously offer telehealth, many health care providers are starting to now.

Do I have to learn some new technology?

There have been recent federal policy changes that now allow us to use video tools and apps that you probably have already for telehealth appointments, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Zoom, or Skype. Ask your doctor what they support.

If you do need to be seen in person, remember doctors and hospitals are doing everything they can to make getting health care safe for you and other patients. Don’t delay care because you are concerned you might get COVID-19 at the clinic or hospital.

If you or someone you know has recently lost or will be losing health insurance coverage, download the mobile app, WAPlanfinder, or visit wahealthplanfinder to browse health insurance options and get covered. Apple Health enrollment is open year-round.

Practice compassion. Keep yourself and your family healthy by making sure you all get the health care you need! Let’s emerge from this time of isolation healthier!

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Press Release May 13, 2020

Press Release 5.13.20Press Release (pp 2) 5.13.20

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Washington Governor Jay Inslee - News release

May 13, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee issues guidance for resuming personal services and professional services in Phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance today for resuming personal services and professional services for counties granted variance under the Safe Start Phase 2 recovery plan laid out last week.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in subsequent phases with adequate safety and health standards in place.Each phase will be at least three weeks metrics and datawillguide when the state can move from one phase to another.

Through the Safe Start approach, counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health.Eight counties have received the variance.

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, personal services may resume, effective May 13.

"For purposes of this memorandum, 'personal services' includes cosmetologists, hairstylists, barbers, estheticians, master estheticians, manicurists, nail salon workers, electrologists, permanent makeup artists, tattoo artists, cosmetology schools, and esthetics school," the guidance states.

Guidance documents:

Inslee also released guidance today regarding the operation of professional services, effective May 13.

"A professional service provider is defined as an office-based occupation that typically serves a client base. This includes but is not limited to: accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other professional service occupations," the guidance states.

Guidance documents:

Full list of guidance for all current businesses.


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COVID-19 Update, May 13, 2020       logo

Trusted Tools in Preventing Disease

Case investigations and contact tracing are trusted public health tools for preventing the spread of disease. This week, Gov. Jay Inslee described a statewide plan to use these tools so that more businesses can open and more people can be active in public while public health works to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Frequently asked questions

What is a case investigation?
When public health learns that someone has tested positive for COVID-19, an interviewer reaches out to talk to that person, usually by phone — this is known as a case investigation.

What will interviewers ask?
Interviewers use pre-approved questions for case investigations and contact tracing. They ask every person for their date of birth, address, gender at birth, race, ethnicity, and other questions. Interviewers will never ask for or write down immigration status, Social Security number, financial information, or marital status.

Who will they share my information with?
Information collected during interviews is used only by public health agencies. The information is protected in secure systems and individual information is not shared with anyone else. Interviewers operate under strict confidentiality rules.

What is contact tracing?
When talking to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, interviewers work to determine their close contacts — anyone who has been within six feet of them for 10 minutes or more while they were infectious. Interviewers then reach out to inform the people who were close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Are you going to tell my friends I’m the one who exposed them to COVID-19?
No. When interviewers call close contacts, they do not tell them who it was who tested positive for COVID-19.

What happens to my friends who are close contacts?
Every person interviewed receives guidance about how to keep themselves and others safe. Interviewers can also help connect people with resources they may need while they quarantine for 14 days if they are not sick or isolate at home until they are fully recovered.

Haven’t we all been quarantined since March?
Well, not technically. We’ve been staying home to follow the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. We’ve still been able to go out of the house for groceries and other essential business. When public health people use the word “quarantine,” we really mean you have to stay at home and not leave at all or see anyone who is not in your household. A quarantine is used to keep a healthy person who has been exposed to a disease at home while we wait to see if they develop illness. If they do get sick, then we know they have not been to the grocery store or anywhere else where they may have exposed other people.

What if someone who gets sick doesn’t speak English?
Interviews are available in languages other than English. Outreach materials are available in more than 20 languages.

Please answer calls you receive from public health. When you do, it helps us stop the spread of COVID-19, which keeps people healthy and moves us closer to opening the state.

Practice compassion. Take care of your neighbors by continuing to practice good physical distancing during this time while the state slowly reopens.

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inslee guidance

May 12, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee issues guidance for partially resuming in-store retail and additional manufacturing operations in Phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance today for partially resuming limited in-store retail and manufacturing operations for counties granted variance under the Safe Start Phase 2 recovery plan laid out last week.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in subsequent phases with adequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks — metrics and data will guide when the state can move from one phase to another. 

Through the Safe Start approach, counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Eight counties have received the variance. 

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, in-store retail operations may resume with limitations, effective May 12. This builds on guidance that Inslee issued yesterday, and requires that any sit-down in-store food and beverage services must follow all Phase 2 restaurant requirements.

Guidance documents: 

Inslee also released guidance today regarding additional manufacturing operations which may resume, effective May 12.  

Guidance documents: 

Full list of guidance for all current businesses

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 Inslee

May 12, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee announces contact tracing initiative 

contact tracing

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the launch of a statewide contact tracing plan today that will allow more businesses to open and more people to be active in public while helping to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Contact tracing is another tool in our toolbox for tackling COVID-19 in Washington,” Inslee said. “While we need to continue physical distancing, this will allow us to get a better handle on who gets sick and how the virus is spread, which is vital to re-opening our economy.”

Local health departments will lead these efforts and the state Department of Health and its partners will support this work.

The information collected is only used by public health professionals and is confidential. It will not be shared. Contacts will not be told the name of the person who may have exposed them to COVID-19.

Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.

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COVID-19 Update, May 12, 2020        logo

Five COVID-19 facts to wow your friends

Next time you are on social media or Zoom-chatting with your friends or family, try to slip one or more of these five facts about COVID-19 into the conversation! Help spread the facts on COVID-19.

  1. The quickest way to reopen the state is to control the virus. Stay the course on your physical distancing. The reopening phases are purposely slow so we can make sure we don’t increase the spread of the virus. We’re not gathering in groups larger than five for weeks yet. Not because we’re scared—because we care about people and we don’t want to make anyone sick.
  2. I care about you. Make sure your friends and family know how much you love them. Connection with people we care about it is vital for our mental health and for our physical health, and it will sustain us through this time. Check in with your friends who live alone. And with those people who used to wear “Free Hugs” t-shirts. It’s been a long time since we could hug our friends.
  3. We can beat this. This is a brand-new virus, and we’re all learning more about it. But the public health tools that we have to control its spread are trusted and well known to us. We know we need to find all the people who have COVID-19 and keep them from spreading it. We need to find the people they had close contact with and make sure they don’t spread it. Testing, quarantine, isolation. These aren’t new tools. We know how to use them and we know they work.
  4. Not everything you read on the internet is true. Right? And not everyone who has an advanced degree is an expert. And not every “expert” is credible. No one knows everything about this virus, and information and recommendations change as we learn more. What was true in February may not be true now. Get your information from trusted sources: coronavirus.wa.gov; www.doh.wa.gov; www.cdc.gov; www.who.int
  5. Wash your hands. Before you touch your face, then after you touch your face. The whole point is to remove the germs from your hands before they get anywhere near your face. People think it’s awkward to turn into the handwashing police, but, you know what, we’ve been the handwashing police for years, and we still have friends.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 11, there are 256,321 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 17,330 people (or 6.8%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 962 people (or 5.6%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. People are exhausted of staying away from others. Help them find good information and stay the course on the physical distancing. The quickest way to reopen the state is to control the virus. By staying home and washing our hands.

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COVID-19 Update, May 12, 2020 

Businesses that are allowed to open in Skamania County Phase 2 are also required to follow the state “Safe Start” requirements. DOH is adding requirements to this site as soon as possible and businesses can not open until the requirements are provided on this site: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/safe-start.

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Press Release May 11, 2020

Press release 5.12_Page_1

Press release 5.12_Page_2- cropped

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inslee guidance

May 11, 2020
Public and constituent inquiries | 360.902.4111
Press inquiries | 360.902.4136

Inslee issues guidance for partially resuming the dine-in restaurant and tavern industry in Phase 2

Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance today for partially resuming the dine-in restaurant and tavern industry for counties granted variance under the Safe Start Phase 2 recovery plan laid out last week.

Through the Washington "Safe Start" plan, more businesses and activities will re-open in subsequent phases with adequate safety and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks — metrics and data will guide when the state can move from one phase to another. 

Through the Safe Start approach, counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Eight counties have received the variance. 

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, restaurant operations may resume with limitations after meeting specific criteria, effective May 11, 2020.

"No restaurant or tavern may operate indoor or sit-down services until they can meet and maintain all requirements, including providing materials, schedules and equipment required to comply," the guidance states. 

Guidance documents: 

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COVID-19 Update, May 11, 2020    logo

The pandemic generation

Do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was assassinated? Did you watch the Challenger explode on its way into space? What were you doing when you learned about the 9/11 attacks? These were pivotal events that defined generations. Do you see the world differently after living through these events?

COVID-19 and this time of physical distancing is a pivotal event for our kids. They will always remember the year they didn’t go back to school. Their experiences now will color the way they see the world for their whole lives.

As we talk to our kids, we help them make meaning out of what they see and experience. Stay calm and reassuring. Take time to answer their questions. We can influence how this pandemic shapes a generation. Perhaps our children will emerge from this time as:

Critical thinkers

  • Talk to your kids about how some stories on COVID-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information. Introduce them to Snopes.com and other fact-checking resources. Help them identify credible sources of information. Can they tell when a post is presenting fact and when it is presenting an opinion? What might be a clue that something presented as fact may not be totally true?
  • Talk to your kids about the news. Pay attention to what they are thinking about and how they are responding emotionally. We all hit our limits. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety. Help your child recognize when it’s time to take a break from the news or social media.

Continuous learners

  • This is a brand new virus, and the world is learning more about it every day. Our kids are watching the world learn. They see that science is always developing, and we are all always learning.
  • Our kids are learning so many different ways to learn. Their teachers switched from classroom instruction to teaching them how to use distance learning tools like video conference software, and online videos and other independent methods to keep on learning.

Innovators

  • These are children who have been extremely bored. They’ve done puzzles; they’ve played music; they’ve read books. They’re learning how to cook. They’re sort of gardening. They’re playing board games even though some of the pieces are missing. They’ve watched literally everything on Disney+. They’ve made beautiful Mother’s Day gifts with a just a glue gun and some of the trash from the recycling bin. Just wait till they focus this creative ingenuity on solving the world’s problems.

Compassionate community members

  • These kids are learning that we are all connected. Help them understand that we stay home when we are sick because taking care of ourselves helps to take care of other people. Toughing it out puts others at risk. When we buy too much toilet paper, other people don’t have what they need. My mask protects you; your mask protects me.
  • Our kids are painfully learning that we feel better when our social connections are strong. They will remember this time of missing their friends. Missing school. Missing playing with others. Enjoy virtual socializing. Connect with friends and family members using phone calls and FaceTime or similar apps. This can help to avoid feeling isolated and can build and maintain relationships.
  • Teach the kids to have compassion for people who are sick. Health care is important. Teach them to have compassion for people who cannot get the care they need, whether it’s because we have so many sick people that we don’t have the health care resources we need or because people aren’t able to get health insurance. For our state to be healthy, all of our communities need to be healthy.

Raising the pandemic generation is not easy. If you notice persistent problems with sleep, changes in eating habits or difficulty concentrating on typical tasks, or if your kids have a persistent sense of hopelessness, excessive sadness or overwhelming worry, contact your doctor or a mental health professional for advice.

Practice compassion. Reach out to a family with children. How are they coping? Young and old, we all have good days and bad days. And some of us have coping skills that are still developing.

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COVID Update, May 10, 2020     logo

Helping Kids to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

Are your children wearing pants? Do they know where their shoes are? We’re off our routine, the kids aren’t really leaving the house, and some of us have changed our standards for appropriate daily wear. But now that the weather is getting warmer and the state parks are open, the outdoors is beckoning. Time to get the kids in shoes and cloth face coverings.

When we meet someone on the trail or anywhere we are physically unable to maintain a six-foot distance, we need to cover our mouth and nose with a couple layers of cloth. Even the kids, if they are more than two years old.

While some children will not have any trouble with this at all, others may struggle. It might feel weird to them, it might slip around, and it’s harder to put things in your mouth when it’s covered. Here are ways that you can help your child adjust to wearing a cloth face covering. Maybe some of them work for pants, too.

Start small. Have your child “help” you by holding their face covering. Over the next few days, gradually move to wearing it hooked on their ears and around their neck like a scarf, then on their face. Have them wear it for longer stretches, during activities they enjoy, like watching their favorite show or dancing to their favorite song. 

Offer praise. Give high-fives, hugs, treats, or an extra book at bedtime as a way of rewarding them.

Model the behavior you want to see. Leave your cloth face covering where your child can see it. Wear it while doing simple tasks, like washing dishes or folding laundry so that it becomes more normal.

Making face coverings at home? Let kids help! Let your child help make their own face covering. Have them pick the fabric and decorate it. Participation makes them naturally more invested in wearing them.

Explain why it is important. Share the good things that face coverings can do, rather than the bad things a virus can do. Let them know that everyone is doing extra things to stop germs from spreading.

Practice compassion. Are you and the kids really good at making cloth face coverings? Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib has challenged us to make, wear, and donate cloth face coverings. See WAmaskChallenge for details!

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COVID-19 Update, May 10, 2020     logo

Women’s Health Week

National Women’s Health Week begins every year on Mother’s Day to remind women and girls to make their own health a priority and take care of themselves. Especially during this time of COVID-19, it is so important for all women and girls, especially those with underlying health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, to take care of our health now.

Regular doctor’s visits are an important way to maintain our health. Call your health care provider to set up a telehealth appointment if you are concerned that you might have COVID-19; if stress is getting in the way of your daily activities; or if you have a health condition, such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity, so you can develop or check in on a plan to keep it under control.

Remember to take care of your body and your mind:

  • Move your body both inside and outside your home. Moderate physical activity is great for your heart, your immune system, and your mental health.
  • Eat heart-healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks.
  • Take care of yourself by staying connected with family and friends.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress.
  • Practice good sleep habits to improve your mental and physical health, and boost your immune system. Follow a routine for going to sleep — be consistent going to bed and getting up — even if you don’t have to commute to work right now. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Look out for your lungs. Try to quit smoking and vaping. Smoking weakens your lungs and puts you at a much higher risk of having serious complications.
  • Slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 while protecting yourself. You know the drill. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay at least six feet away from others. Wear a cloth face covering if you go in public like to a grocery store or to the park.

It’s not always easy to take steps for better health, and we each have our own approach. The key is to find what works for you. Reflect on your health goals, what motivates you, and what’s holding you back from being your healthiest you. The Office of Women’s Health has an online tool to uncover personalized tips to help you take the next step on your health journey.

Practice compassion. Remember to practice compassion toward yourself. Think about your own health in a supportive and nonjudgmental way. This National Women’s Health Week, whether you are focused on getting regular physical activity, eating healthier, or managing your stress, support others by sharing how you #FindYourHealth on social media. Follow the hashtag to find inspiration from others!

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COVID-19 Update, May 9, 2020         logo

Lessons from a past pandemic 

Do you know of anyone in your family who had smallpox? It would have been a long time ago. The last natural outbreak of smallpox in the US was in 1949. The last person in the world to get smallpox was a 3-year-old Bangladeshi child in 1975. Smallpox was a terrible disease that killed 3 out of every 10 people who got it, and left survivors scarred and sometimes blind. It spread from person to person through close contact with others. People spread the virus when they coughed or sneezed and droplets from their nose or mouth spread to other people. (Sound familiar?)

Smallpox was the first disease we had a vaccine for, and the first disease to be eradicated from the earth. A lot of what we have learned about public health, we learned during the many years of international effort to eradicate smallpox. Some of these lessons are relevant to COVID-19. Here are two big ones.

It took a vaccine.

Smallpox was allowed to “run its course” for literally thousands of years. You can see a picture of a 3000 year-old mummy with mummified smallpox blisters on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, if you’re into that kind of thing.

An effective vaccine was developed in the late 1700s, and only then could individuals be protected from smallpox. And only after almost everyone was vaccinated did the “herd immunity” provide enough protection to protect whole communities. And only after all the communities in the world were protected — by vaccinating almost everyone — did transmission stop completely.

It took so much more than a vaccine.

We had an effective vaccine for almost 200 years before smallpox was eradicated. A vaccine is not enough to prevent disease. In addition to a vaccine, eradicating smallpox took:

·  Worldwide commitment to making decisions based on science and in the interest of the public’s health.

·  Cooperation and support across political boundaries both internationally and within nations.

·  Widespread willingness to help others, even if you lived in a community that had already eliminated smallpox.

·  Adequate supplies. Early efforts were delayed by trouble finding enough vaccine.

·  Help in spreading good information. The smallpox teams were often working in areas of the world where suspicion of foreigners makes good survival sense and rumors and conspiracy theories are really hard to tell apart from good information. The teams worked with local leaders to help fight misinformation standing in the way of science based decision making.

·  Excellent support from community members in reporting new cases and helping to locate everyone who may have been exposed — what we know of as contact tracing.

A COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatments will be necessary for us to resume our unphysically distanced lives. But it won’t be sufficient to save lives. We will also need to continue to make decisions based on science, to work together with people we don’t always agree with, to help each other, to conserve resources, to help spread good information and challenge harmful rumors, and to participate fully in public health efforts to test more people and identify folks who have had close contact with others with COVID-19.

Practice compassion

Even before we have a vaccine or effective treatments, we can work together to prepare the road for controlling COVID-19. Support each other in reducing fear and harmful rumors by spreading the facts. Find good information at www.coronavirus.wa.gov or www.cdc.gov.

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COVID-19 Update, May 8, 2020

Inslee 

Inslee releases additional Safe Start Phase 1 guidance

graphic

 

Gov. Jay Inslee released additional guidance today for businesses and services under Safe Start Phase 1, including the ability for retail outlets to provide curbside service, pet walking and landscaping.

“Two weeks ago, we opened up construction. Last week, we opened up more outdoor recreation and provided more guidance on non-urgent surgeries. This week, we have released safety and health requirements to allow for more activities — drive-in religious services, auto & vessel sales, and car washes, as well as essential workforce development programs — and we have more coming out today, including curbside retail sales and landscaping, which will help see Phase 1 implemented in full,” Inslee said.

Safe Start sets a careful approach for emerging from the pandemic. It allows for modifications of business closures and physical distancing measures while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.

Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.

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COVID-19 Update, May 8, 2020         logo

Even in a pandemic, kids need their shots. One epidemic at a time, please.

One really dangerous effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the large drop in the number of immunizations given to children, both in Washington and nationally. Providers in Washington’s Childhood Vaccine Program reported that they administered 30 percent fewer vaccines to kids in March of this year compared with the same month in previous years. We’re still counting the number of vaccines given in April, but so far it looks like we’re seeing a 42 percent decrease.

This leaves children and communities at risk. Slowing or stopping access to immunizations increases the risk that we could see an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Adding more outbreaks on top of COVID-19 not only would put more people at risk for infectious disease, but it also could overload the health care system.

It makes sense to feel nervous about taking kids to a clinic right now, but doctors’ offices have put a lot of time and effort into making sure you can get needed care safely. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or clinic about ways you can get your kids vaccinated. Read more information for parents and caregivers here.

Practice compassion. We’ve heard a lot about herd immunity lately. Herd immunity keeps our communities safe by making sure as many people as possible are immune to a disease. Making sure our kids have the shots they need is one way we take care of others and of our communities.

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COVID-19 Update, May 7, 2020        logo

10 Reasons NOT to have a “COVID-19 Party” 

Have you heard of “chickenpox parties”? Before there was an effective vaccine, sometimes people brought their kids together to play with a child who was sick with chickenpox so they could try to control when their child got chickenpox and get it over with. Even for chickenpox, this was not a great idea, but purposely exposing yourself or others to COVID-19 is a truly terrible idea. Here are 10 reasons to definitely not have a “COVID-19 party.”

  1. Herd immunity best comes from a vaccine. Herd immunity is the idea that when a large proportion of the population is immune to a disease, this stops the spread of that disease within the population. This is great public health, and we try to achieve these levels of protection against diseases through vaccination. COVID-19 is too dangerous to just let the disease circulate until most people have had it. Besides, even if most of the adults got COVID-19 and were immune, the disease could still circulate among children, like measles, mumps, and polio did before there were effective vaccines.
  2. Immunity may wane over time. At least after you recovered from chickenpox you were immune. According to Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, if the virus that causes COVID-19 is like other coronaviruses that infect humans, it’s likely that people who get infected will be immune for months or years, but not forever. There is definitely no advantage to getting COVID-19 “early” only to get it again in several months or years.
  3. Quicker is not better. We really don’t want a lot of people getting COVID-19 all at once because this risks overwhelming our doctors and hospitals and leaving some people without needed health care. Even if the same number of people ultimately get the disease, they all get better health care if we spread those infections out over time.
  4. COVID-19 is deadly. The death rate for COVID-19 is unknown, but current data suggest it is 10 times higher than for the flu, and even higher for people over age 65 and for people with underlying chronic illness.
  5. This is not a fun disease to get. The “mild illness” that most of us would get with COVID-19 could still leave you feeling pretty miserable for a long time. You could feel sick for weeks with fever, cough, and trouble breathing.
  6. You could get very sick and have to go to the hospital.
  7. You could spread the disease to vulnerable people. It’s possible that after getting exposed to COVID-19, you don’t feel very sick at all, but you are still contagious and could get other people very sick.
  8. It’s prohibited by the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. You know, along with all the other regular parties and gatherings.
  9. More sick people means more closed businesses. The governor and public health are watching the number of people who get infected with COVID-19 in your community to help decide when the state can move to the next phase of reopening. More sick people means we stay closed longer.
  10. You’re going to have to explain to public health professionals how you got this. If you get diagnosed with COVID-19, a public health professional will call you to find the people you have had close contact with to test and isolate those folks before they spread the disease to others. We know these public health people. Your health is very important to them. You are not going to want to explain to them why you had a COVID-19 party. So embarrassing.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 5, there are 224,813 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 15,905 people (or 7.1%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 870 people (or 5.5%) have died of the disease. 

Practice compassion. May 6 is National School Nurse Day! School nurses play a critical part in keeping students healthy, in or out of school! If you know a school nurse, make sure to thank them for their efforts today and promise them you will never have a COVID-19 party.

 

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COVID-19 Update, May 6, 2020          logo

Helping kids to wear cloth face coverings

Are your children wearing pants? Do they know where their shoes are? We’re off our routine, the kids aren’t really leaving the house, and some of us have changed our standards for appropriate daily wear. But now that the weather is getting warmer and the state parks are open, the outdoors is beckoning. Time to get the kids in shoes and cloth face coverings.

When we meet someone on the trail or anywhere we are physically unable to maintain a six-foot distance, we need to cover our mouth and nose with a couple layers of cloth. Even the kids, if they are more than two years old.

While some children will not have any trouble with this at all, others may struggle. It might feel weird to them, it might slip around, and it’s harder to put things in your mouth when it’s covered. Here are ways that you can help your child adjust to wearing a cloth face covering. Maybe some of them work for pants, too.

Start small. Have your child “help” you by holding their face covering. Over the next few days, gradually move to wearing it hooked on their ears and around their neck like a scarf, then on their face. Have them wear it for longer stretches, during activities they enjoy, like watching their favorite show or dancing to their favorite song.

Offer praise. Give high-fives, hugs, treats, or an extra book at bedtime as a way of rewarding them.

Model the behavior you want to see. Leave your cloth face covering where your child can see it. Wear it while doing simple tasks, like washing dishes or folding laundry so that it becomes more normal.

Making face coverings at home? Let kids help! Let your child help make their own face covering. Have them pick the fabric and decorate it. Participation makes them naturally more invested in wearing them.

Explain why it is important. Share the good things that face coverings can do, rather than the bad things a virus can do. Let them know that everyone is doing extra things to stop germs from spreading.

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on May 6, there are 230,680 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 16,231 people (or 7.0%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 891 people (or 5.5%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Are you and the kids really good at making cloth face coverings?  Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib has challenged us to make, wear, and donate cloth face coverings. See www.WAmaskChallenge.org for details!

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COVID-19 Update, May 6, 2020       logo

When grief becomes more than grieving

Losing someone you love is always difficult. And losing someone while your life is already turned upside down by a pandemic can intensify your grief, creating more complicated, or traumatic, grief. This makes it even more difficult to heal.

During this time of physical distancing, some of the usual supports and rituals that we rely on during times of loss are not available. Sometimes we cannot be with our loved one at the time of death. We may feel guilty wondering what caused our loved one to get sick. Perhaps decisions about a person’s care were made without our input. The rituals that help with healing, such as funerals or gatherings with friends and family to mourn together, may not be able to happen right now.

Families that weather traumatic grief in a healthy way have some things in common:

·  They value communication and express their thoughts and feelings to each other.

·  They share a generally positive view of life.

·  They allow people to grieve in multiple ways.

·  They have the ability to be flexible in their thinking and actions.

·  They actively work on maintaining relationships within the family.

Most people find that over time the waves of sadness become less frequent or more manageable.

But sometimes we need to ask for help. Some signs that grief is more complex and that it may be time to ask for help include:

Intense waves of anger and rage, sometimes unfocused, which feel out of control.

·  Recurring thoughts that interfere with daily life and activities.

·  Focus on blaming.

·  Bitterness that does not ease up over time.

·  Pain, fatigue, lack of interest, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances and nightmares.

·  Thoughts of self-harm, suicide, or harming someone else.

·  Unhealthy use of alcohol or drugs.

·  Avoiding friends and family.

·  Overwhelming responses to reminders of the loss.

·  Not being able to speak about the person who has died or tolerate anything that brings up their memory.

If you or someone you care about are experiencing traumatic grief, help is available. Learn about resources at the coronavirus.wa.gov mental and emotional well-being page.

Practice compassion. Reach out to someone who may be grieving to check in and support them. It may feel awkward and like you don’t know what to say. That’s okay. Just let them know you love them and are thinking about them.

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COVID-19 Update, May 5, 2020      logo

Washington COVID-19 Safe Start

The quickest way to reopen the economy and schools is to control the spread of COVID-19. The governor has extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31. He also signed his Safe Start plan, which amends some components of the original order and describes a plan to reopen the state in four phases, while improving and closely monitoring the control of the virus. Some businesses could reopen as early as this week.

Through the Safe Start plan, businesses and activities will reopen in phases with adequate social distancing measures and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks long — data about the spread of the virus and capacity of the public health and health care system will determine when the state can move from one phase to another.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Wait. What is in which phase again?

A table describing the phases in more detail is available here.

I’m over 65. What does this mean for me?

We are opening the state as carefully and thoughtfully as we can, but there is no getting around the fact that this is risky business. If you are at risk of getting very sick if you get COVID-19 because you are over age 65 or have a chronic health condition, please stay home and avoid the newly opening opportunities for services and gatherings until Phase 4.

Am I required to wear a face mask or cloth face covering when I go out?

Employers may be required to provide workers masks or face coverings and should review requirements. At this time, it is strongly recommended that we wear a mask or fabric face covering when going out, especially when it’s not possible to ensure six feet of physical distance from other people. There is not a requirement at this time.

What data is the governor referring to as he decides whether to go to Phase 2?

The governor and public health officials look at numerous data sources. An overview of some of that data can be seen on the state’s Risk Assessment dashboard in the “What You Need to Know” section of coronavirus.wa.gov.

Why are some counties allowed to resume certain activities but not others?

Not every part of the state is experiencing the pandemic the same way. Some counties may be able to resume certain activities safely, while others remain at higher risk and need to continue stricter precautions. In any community where restrictions are lifted, state health officials are closely monitoring COVID-19 activity and will reinstate restrictions if COVID-19 activity increases.

So if a different county is Phase 2, can I go there to get my hair done?

Remember, if you live in a county that is in Phase 1, all non-essential travel is restricted for you. This means you are not supposed to travel to a county with fewer restrictions to get your hair cut or take advantage of other services opening. Even if you feel healthy, traveling from a part of the state that is more populated and has more disease circulating means you risk bringing the virus with you.

When will we know if activities (sports activities, vacations, etc.) will be allowed?

The governor’s decisions about resuming activities are based on COVID-19 activity and our readiness to test, treat, and protect Washingtonians and not on any particular timeline. The governor has said a full return to normal will require pharmaceutical interventions such as a vaccine and he does not know when we are going to get there.

Practice compassion. Looking for a way to help? You can participate in Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib’s “Washington Mask Challenge.” The Lt. Gov has organized this statewide homemade mask-making initiative to encourage the public to make, wear, and donate cloth masks. If you can make cloth masks to donate, go to www.WAmaskChallenge.org.

 

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COVID-19 Update, May 4, 2020     logo

A Phased Approach 

The quickest way to reopen the economy and schools is to control the spread of COVID-19. The governor has extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31 and described a plan to reopen the state in four phases, while improving and closely monitoring the control of the virus.

  • Phase 1 begins, May 5, with the reopening of some recreational activities, including day use at state parks, playing golf, fishing, and hunting.
  • Phase 2 will allow small gatherings of five or fewer people, new construction, and reopening of barber shops, salons, and pet care services.
  • Phase 3 will allow gatherings of up to 50 people, including sports activities, and non-essential travel can resume.
  • Phase 4 will involve resuming the majority of public interactions. Gatherings of more than 50 people will be allowed, but, until a vaccine is available, we will still need to stay at least six feet away from other people. 

Moving from phase to phase

In determining whether it is time to move to the next phase, we will consider many data sources describing different aspects of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people in Washington. How many people are getting sick? How many need to be hospitalized and how many die of COVID-19? We anticipate that there will always be at least three weeks between phases so that we have time to collect and review the data to make sure we are not seeing an increase in the number of people impacted by the disease as we modify the restrictions.

In addition, in order to reopen more activities, the state must be able to accomplish these crucial capabilities:

Healthcare

Make sure the health care system is able to handle another surge of patients in case the virus again spreads rapidly through the population.

Testing

Increase the number of people who are tested for COVID-19.

Contact investigations

We need to be able to reach everyone who comes in contact with someone with COVID-19 to make sure they are tested and isolated.

Protect high-risk populations

High-risk populations include essential workers, people in long term care facilities, and people over age 65 and with underlying chronic illnesses.

And continue preventing the spread of COVID-19

In every phase, we must:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Try not to touch your face.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.

We are opening the state as carefully and thoughtfully as we can, but there is no getting around the fact that this is risky business. If you are at risk of getting very sick if you get COVID-19 because you are over age 65 or have a chronic health condition, please stay home and avoid the newly opening opportunities for services and gatherings until Phase 4.

Differences among counties

Not every part of the state is experiencing the pandemic the same way. Some counties may be able to resume certain activities safely, while others remain at higher risk and need to continue stricter precautions. In any community where some restrictions are lifted, we will closely monitor the data around COVID-19 and will reinstate restrictions if occurrences of the virus increase.

Some counties could have fewer restrictions

Very small counties with low to no COVID-19 activity will be able to apply for a waiver from some of the restrictions.

Some counties could have more strict restrictions

Cities and jurisdictions can take more strict actions than what the state is mandating. That is up to them based on their public health needs and local decision making.

Remember, if you live in a county that is in Phase 1, all non-essential travel is restricted for you. This means you are not supposed to travel to a county with fewer restrictions to get your hair cut or take advantage of other services opening. Even if you feel healthy, traveling from a part of the state that is more populated and has more disease circulating means you risk bringing the virus with you.

Practice compassion. This is hard. We must help each other, and we must be resilient. Be patient and kind to one another. Reach out if you or someone you care about needs help. Offer help to those who need it, and accept it from those who offer.

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COVID-19 Update, May 2 , 2020      logo

Turning the Dial 

The good news is, what we’re doing is working. Because we have been doing a great job physically distancing, we have prevented many, many people from getting infected with COVID-19, and we have prevented many deaths. This gives us the chance to start turning the dial.

Our efforts are working

Because our collective efforts are working, we now have an opportunity to shift our approach to controlling this virus. We will still use physical distancing to prevent infections, but we will add large-scale testing for the virus, identifying people who have been exposed, and isolating and quarantining people who have COVID-19 or have been exposed. We need to vastly increase the amount of materials we have on hand for testing to complete this shift, but the governor’s announcement yesterday starts us along this path. 

Extending the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order

The governor extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31. Nearly all the restrictions that have been in place are still there, but soon there will be new guidance that will allow for retail curbside pickup, car sales, car washes, services, and drive-in spiritual services (you stay in your car like at a drive-in movie, but instead of watching a movie, you watch the religious service).

As we turn the dial and re-enter public life, we’ve got to be vigilant on the things that we do as individuals to keep us safe:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Try not to touch your face.
  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public places when within six feet of another person.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly.

A phased approached

The governor described a plan to reopen the state in four phases. The quickest way to reopen the economy and schools is to control the virus. By slowly dialing down restrictions, we can safely reopen businesses and resume many of the activities we love.

We are entering Phase 1, which begins May 5.

We are entering Phase 1, which begins May 5. The governor has already allowed some construction to resume as well as reopening of some recreational activities including day use at state parks, playing golf, and fishing and hunting starting May 5. New guidance is being developed that will soon allow for retail curbside pickup, car washes, and drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle.

Phase 2

In Phase 2, we will see more outdoor recreation activities, as well as small gatherings of five or fewer people, new construction, and some in-store retail purchases. Barber shops and salons could reopen. Restaurants could reopen with 50% capacity and table size no larger than five people. Some professional services and offices could open up as well, even though teleworking would remain strongly encouraged. Pet care services including grooming could resume.

Phase 3

In Phase 3, we will see gatherings of 50 people or fewer, including sports activities. Non-essential travel could resume. Restaurants could move up to 75% capacity and tables up to 10 people, and bars could open at 25% capacity. Gyms and movie theaters could reopen at 50% capacity; retail, libraries, museums, and government buildings could reopen.

Phase 4

In Phase 4, we will resume most public interactions. Gatherings of more than 50 people would be allowed, but, until there is a vaccine, we will still need to practice good physical distancing.

Practice compassion. Staying home is hard, but it is the best way each of us can keep essential workers, health care employees and the people we love safe. Who do you stay home for?

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COVID-19 Update, May 1 , 2020      logo

Farm Workers and COVID-19

While some of us are able to work at home, some of us who have been designated “essential” must continue to go to work. This can put them at risk, and then put our essential services at risk. CDC has issued guidance to keep our essential workers both working and safe. Under this new guidance, essential workers can continue to work after they have had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, if they do not feel sick and if they take their temperature every day, wear a face mask, carefully physically distance themselves from others, and if the employer cleans and disinfects all common areas and equipment.

One group of essential workers that can be especially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection is farm workers. Farm workers often work side by side close to one another, and some live together on the farm in temporary worker housing. This means they may be unavoidably close to each other both at work and in their off time. Farm workers are likely to be Latino and may also have some of the social and economic challenges that are more common among Latino people than among white people, like language barriers, discrimination, stigma around immigration status, or poverty. Many lack access to paid sick leave.

We are working closely with the Governor’s Office, other state agencies, growers, community advocates, and other stakeholders to address farm worker health and safety needs related to COVID-19. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries recently released guidance to help employers protect workers in agricultural jobs. The guidance states that employers must keep workers at least six feet apart; ensure frequent employee hand washing; increase regular cleaning and sanitizing of common-touch surfaces; make sure sick employees stay home (or are isolated); and educate workers in the language they understand best about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission.

We’re committed to protecting the health of all people, but it’s particularly important to protect the health of the people who feed our state.

Does all this talk about growing food make you want to stock up? Purchase just what you need for the next two weeks. According to USDA, there are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock.

Practice compassion. Can you support a local farm? Consider whether you can buy local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). This allows farmers to receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow, and you get to discover new vegetables and develop a relationship with the farmer who grows your food.

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COVID-19 Update, April 29, 2020       logo

Should I get an antibody test?

Both the CDC, FDA and infectious disease society of America are not recommending antibody testing at this time. We just don’t have enough data regarding true/false positives, and whether a positive test actually confers immunity. 

IDSA COVID-19 Antibody Testing Primer 

Updated: April 29, 2020

As serological testing for SARS-CoV-2 advances, there are multiple issues that need to be addressed, from test quality to interpretation. Unlike molecular tests for COVID-19 (e.g., PCR), antibody tests may be better suited for public health surveillance and vaccine development than for diagnosis. The current antibody testing landscape is varied and clinically unverified, and these tests should not be used as the sole test for diagnostic decisions. Further, until more evidence about protective immunity is available, serology results should not be used to make staffing decisions or decisions regarding the need for personal protective equipment.  

The sections below outline the current state of antibody testing for SARS-CoV-2, along with research questions and additional testing and policy considerations. This information will be updated regularly as new research, tests, and increased public health capacity become available.   

BACKGROUND ON ANTIBODY TESTING FOR SARS-CoV-2 INFECTION –

The antibody response in infected patients remains largely unknown, and the clinical values of antibody testing have not been fully demonstrated. Seroprevalence data will be important in understanding the scale of the pandemic and future vaccine utility.

Potential utility of serology in SARS-CoV-2:

▪ Detection of PCR-negative cases, especially for patients who present late with a very low viral load below the detection limit of RT-PCR assays, or when lower respiratory tract sampling is not possible;

▪ Identification of convalescent plasma donors;

▪ Epidemiologic studies of disease prevalence in the community;

▪ Verification of vaccine response once antibody correlate(s) of protection identified. 

Potential drawbacks if serological assays are not well-validated: 

▪ False negative risks if performed early in disease course, especially in mild disease;

▪ False positive risks, particularly with tests for Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and potential crossreactivity with common cold coronaviruses (e.g. HKU1, NL63, OC43, 229E).

TEST QUALITY & INTERPRETATION

There are a multitude of different antibody tests for COVID-19 with variable performance. Tests vary in the viral antigen(s) they target, e.g., nucleoprotein (N protein) or spike protein (S protein). It is not yet clear which antibody responses, if any, are protective or sustained.

The ongoing rapid development of new technologies for combination antibody tests may ameliorate some of the historic technical limitations of these tests.

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a global non-profit organization driving innovation in the development and delivery of diagnostics, is conducting an independent evaluation of performance data for SARS-CoV-2 immunoassays to help inform procurement and implementation decisions for countries and health programs. The dataset could also help inform clinical validation studies for these tests.

A "positive" test is exceptionally difficult to interpret because the performance of these tests is not well known. For some assays both sensitivity and specificity may be poor, or at the very least undefined. - Clinical laboratories will need to perform validation studies of commercial reagents.

Some FDA-authorized COVID-19 antibody tests are estimated to have 96-98% specificity, which would mean that a positive test result is more likely a false-positive result than a true positive result if the prevalence or pretest probability is 5% or less. 

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

No universal standard for reporting is available and test detection limits are variable. Some assays provide semi-quantitative results and others are designed to be qualitative (i.e. antibody detected or not).

Combination IgG/IgM tests can provide unclear value given the potential for cross-reactivity with other coronavirus antibodies and the often-poor specificity of IgM.

Currently available commercial assays do not have titers, and without this information it is unclear how to identify “qualified” individuals for plasma donation.

Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) perform differently than antibody testing, and this has implications for interpretation. The NAATs that were developed for SARS-CoV-2 are very specific. In patients with signs and symptoms of infection, a positive NAAT result has a very high positive predictive value (PPV) for true infection. Conversely, both the negative and PPV of antibody testing are likely to be lower, given the low prevalence of prior exposure to SARS CoV-2 in the U.S. population and imperfect sensitivity and specificity of the test. 

As a result, antibody tests will be most useful as surveillance tools to estimate (with surrounding confidence intervals) relative proportions of different populations that have been exposed to SARS CoV2. They will have less utility as diagnostic tools for individual patient assessment.

Privacy concerns: As we roll out antibody tests, the federal government should clarify several key questions regarding privacy:  Who will collect antibody samples? How might they be saved and used in the future (i.e. by government, by law enforcement)? Will there be federal privacy protections for patient samples? What type(s) of applications are intended?mApplications must mitigate concerns about privacy violations and hacking; advertiser tracking; potential test error; and faulty phone/wireless signals.

OUSTANDING RESEARCH NEEDS

While extrapolation from other coronavirus infections allows us to be optimistic that detection of an IgG response will likely confer at least some protection to most people, we have no direct evidence of this for SARS-CoV-2.

Understanding which antibodies (if any) are protective is required for vaccine development. There are many different SARS CoV-2 IgG antibodies that may be produced, and each may have a different role. This should also be a consideration in assessing the clinical utility of tests designed to target specific antibodies.

Determine limits of protective immunity (e.g., antibody amount, duration, and efficacy) and correlations with disease severity.

Address concerns about potentiation of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) by a vaccine or hyperimmune plasma administration: Patients with COVID-19 infection can develop CRS about day 7-10 of illness, which often leads to death. There is some concern that a vaccine against the “wrong” antigens or infusion of hyperimmune plasma from COVID-19 survivors could worsen the inflammatory immune  response in patients with COVID-19 infection. This immune enhancement is seen for some flaviviruses such as dengue.

Development of accurate serologic tests that can be used with fingerstick capillary blood would be ideal for seroprevalence field studies.  Most commercial assays require venipuncture blood draw to obtain serum or plasma.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS: ADDITIONAL FUNDING PRIORITIES

Increased research, public health, and laboratory funding for test development, supplies, and PPE, and for the routine application of serological testing, once available and well-validated, in the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 patients.  

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news

April 30, 2020

Contact:

Joint Information Center
253-512-7100
wajic@mil.wa.gov

Inslee announces new initiative to expand language access to COVID-19 information

Camp Murray, WA — Yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a memo to state agencies detailing a new language access plan that will ensure state agencies can provide vital COVID-19 information to individuals with disabilities and with limited English proficiency.

“Information is one of the best tools we have in this fight against COVID-19,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “But not every community has equal access to information. This plan helps ensure every Washingtonian is better able to stay safe and healthy by making sure our state agencies are providing information that is culturally-relevant and accessible.”

The plan, which was developed in coordination with the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center (JIC), provides a streamlined new process for agencies to translate vital information related to COVID-19 into the top 37 languages spoken in Washington state. These top languages are spoken by at least 5% of the state population or 1,000 people based on 2016 Office of Financial Management (OFM) data. The plan also provides guidance for state agencies to establish telephonic interpretation services which allows real-time translation over the phone.

“A number of communities are disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. One way we can reduce that injustice is by meeting our obligation to communicate in ways that are accessible and culturally and linguistically relevant,” said Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman.

The state Department of Health in coordination with the state’s JIC has made COVID-19 health information available in at least 26 languages and has produced an American Sign Language COVID-19 video series.

For those with questions about COVID-19, the state has also established a hotline at 1-800-525-0127. For interpretative services, press # when they answer and say your language. The hotline is open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. For questions about your own health, COVID-19 testing, or testing results, please contact your health care provider.

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news-spanish

April 30, 2020

Contact:

Joint Information Center
253-512-7100
wajic@mil.wa.gov

El gobernador Inslee anuncia una nueva iniciativa para ampliar el apoyo lingüístico a la información acerca del COVID-19

Camp Murray, WA — El gobernador Jay Inslee emitió ayer un memorándum a las agencias estatales detallando un nuevo plan de apoyo lingüístico que garantizará que las agencias estatales puedan proporcionar información vital acerca del COVID-19 a las personas con discapacidades y personas con conocimiento limitado del inglés.

"La información es una de las mejores herramientas que tenemos en esta lucha contra COVID-19", dijo el gobernador Jay Inslee. "Pero no todas las comunidades tienen el mismo acceso a esa información. Este plan ayudará a garantizar que todas las personas que viven en el estado de Washington puedan mantenerse seguras y saludables asegurando que nuestras agencias estatales proporcionen información que sea accesible y tome en cuenta diferentes normas culturales”.

El plan de apoyo lingüístico se elaboró en coordinación con el Centro de Información Conjunta (Joint Information Center, JIC) del estado sobre COVID-19. El plan proporciona un nuevo proceso simplificado para que las agencias traduzcan información vital relacionada con COVID-19 a los 37 idiomas principales que se hablan en el estado de Washington. Estos idiomas los hablan al menos el 5% de la población estatal o 1.000 personas según datos de la Oficina de Gestión Financiera (OFM) de 2016. El plan también proporciona orientación para que las agencias estatales establezcan servicios de interpretación telefónica que permitan la traducción en tiempo real por el teléfono.

"Hay varias comunidades que se ven afectadas de manera desigual por esta pandemia. Una manera de reducir esa injusticia es cumpliendo con nuestra obligación de comunicarnos de maneras accesibles y tomando en cuenta diversas normas culturales y lingüísticas", dijo John Wiesman, Secretario de Salud del estado de Washington.

El Departamento de Salud del estado en coordinación con el Centro de Información Conjunta (JIC) del estado ha hecho que información de salud sobre COVID-19 esté disponible en al menos 26 idiomas y ha producido una serie de videos en la lengua de signos en inglés (American Sign Language, ASL) sobre el COVID-19.

Para los que tienen preguntas sobre COVID-19, el estado también ha establecido una línea directa al 1-800-525-0127. Para los servicios de interpretación, pulse # cuando respondan y diga su idioma. La línea directa está abierta todos los días de 6:00 a.m. a 10:00 p.m. Para preguntas sobre su propia salud, pruebas de COVID-19 o resultados de pruebas, favor de comunicarse con su proveedor de atención médica.

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COVID-19 Update, April 30, 2020       logo

100 days; A grim milestone 

Yesterday marked 100 days since the first COVID-19 case in the United States was diagnosed in Washington, and the Washington State Department of Health, with our many partners, began our response to this global pandemic. This milestone got us thinking about other milestones related to this pandemic:

·  One hundred days ago, there was one case of COVID-19 in the US. Today there are more than a million people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US.

·  About a third of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the world live in the United States. The US has more COVID-19 cases than any other country in the world, including countries that have much higher populations than we do.

·  There have been just over 60,000 people in the US who have died of COVID-19. This is a grim milestone we weren’t expected to hit until late this summer, according to some of the models.

·  Nearly $1.5 billion of unemployment benefits has been paid to Washingtonians since the start of the crisis.

·  The kids have been out of school for just over six weeks now. Our children are learning to be flexible and creative. Six weeks is such a short time for how much they have had to learn how to adjust to: so many changes in how we live and learn and socialize and use technology!

The next milestone?

We are all looking forward to day when this disease is contained enough that the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order can be lifted. We have not quite hit this milestone yet. Yesterday the governor announced that he is extending the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order beyond May 4. Over time, he’ll dial the restrictions up and down depending on how many people are getting sick and how well people are following the physical distancing rules. Some of the information the governor will consider as he moves that dial includes:

·  Information about COVID-19: How many people are getting sick? How many need to be hospitalized and how many die of COVID-19? We need to make sure to avoid another increase in the number of people impacted by the disease as we modify the restrictions.

·  Our ability to test a lot of people: We need to increase the number of people who are tested for COVID-19. We have the lab capacity to do it, but we still have a nationwide shortage of testing materials, including swabs and viral transmission media to get the samples to the labs.

·  Contact tracing: We need to be able to reach everyone who comes in contact with someone with COVID-19 to make sure they are tested and isolated. This is a huge amount of work. We are now building a workforce of about 1,500 people to help with this, primarily from the Washington State National Guard, local health departments, and the state Department of Health.

·  Status of the health care system: We need to make sure the health care system is able to handle another surge of patients in case the virus again spreads rapidly through the population.

Practice compassion. Milestones aren’t always celebratory — some are grim. Pause and take a breath and recognize how resilient and creative and compassionate we have been. And, yes, how far we have yet to go. Keep on being resilient and innovative — we were born for such a time as this, and we will come out the other end wiser and healthier.

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COVID-19 Update, April 28, 2020      logo

 

Returning to the Great Outdoors

Beginning May 5, restrictions on some outdoor recreational activities will be lifted. Getting active outside is great for our physical and mental health. Starting May 5, we’ll be able to return to fishing, hunting, golfing, and day use at state parks and public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources or the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other activities such as public gatherings, events, team sports, and camping, among other things, will not be resuming on May 5.

Returning to public life will not happen like an on/off switch. This slow, careful return will feel more like a dial turning restrictions up or down in response to new information. As we slowly return to some outdoor activities, we will need be especially vigilant to maintain physical distancing. Any additional relaxing—dialing down—of restrictions on outdoor recreation will depend on us continuing our physical distancing while we participate in outdoor recreation. Similarly, if the number of people getting sick suddenly increases, we can expect that these restrictions will be dialed back up again.

Ready to get outside in a physically distanced way? Here are some tips:

  •  If you feel sick at all, even a little bit, you need to stay home. Wait until you feel better.
  • Gatherings are still prohibited. You can only play golf with one person outside your own household, and you still need to stay six feet away from each other. You can fish or hunt or go to the park with people in your own household, but not with your other friends or family just yet.
  • Spend your time outside far away from other people. If you are temporarily unable to be at least six feet away from others, wear a cloth face covering.
  • Do not travel to outdoor recreation areas. Enjoy the outdoors that is closer to your home. Overnight trips and camping are still prohibited.
  • Bathrooms may not be open yet at all locations, especially at parks and other areas that were closed for the winter. You are still going to have to wash your hands, though. Bring water and soap with you and don’t forget to scrub for 20 seconds. May as well throw some hand sanitizer and toilet paper in your backpack too.

Individual parks may close again with limited notice if there large groups of people congregate there or if there are other safety or physical distancing concerns. If you see any issues of crowding, trash, or other concerns of wildlife areas or boat launches, you can report those issues online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/wdfw-lands/report-conditions.  

Numbers. The latest numbers are updated on our webpage. As of 11:59 p.m. on April 27, there are 182,515 people in Washington who have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 13,842 people (or 7.6%) have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 786 people (or 5.7%) have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Let’s give everyone a chance to go to the state parks and still be safe. If you arrive at a park and it is really crowded, be prepared to change your plans and go to a different park or come back at a different time.

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COVID-19 Update, April 27, 2020      logo

COVID-19 and People with Disabilities

According to CDC, 1 in 4 adults have a disability that seriously impacts their ability to do major life activities. People with disabilities can also struggle with economic and social conditions that compound these difficulties. In fact, mobility disability is nearly five times as common among middle-aged adults living below the poverty level than among people whose income is twice the poverty level. Many people with disabilities also experience discrimination because of age, race or ethnicity, or their disability.

Most people with a physical disability are not at higher risk of getting COVID-19 or of getting very sick from COVID-19 because of their disability. However, some people with disabilities may also have a chronic illness that puts us at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. According to CDC, adults with disabilities are three times more likely than adults without disabilities to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. Some people with disabilities may be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 if they cannot avoid having close contact with others, such as caregivers, or if they live in a long-term care facility.

If you have a disability or chronic illness, make sure you have a four-week supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications on hand. Remember to make sure you have other needed medical supplies available (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care) and have a back-up plan for if you need more.

If you have a caregiver, make a plan for what you will do if you or your caregiver gets sick. Do you have contact information for family, friends, neighbors, and local service agencies who can help? Ask your caregiver to take their temperature before coming to your home. Make sure your caregiver knows to wash their hands when they enter your home and before and after touching you. Ask them if they have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Don’t be shy about asking your caregiver to take great care of themselves by washing their hands and monitoring their health to keep both of you safe!

Sometimes doctors are so focused on underlying health conditions that they can miss mental health concerns among people with disabilities. But people at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 are also at increased risk of stress due to COVID-19. This is especially true if they live alone or in a place that is not allowing visitors right now. We can all support our loved ones living alone by checking in often and virtually.

More Information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

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COVID-19 Update, April 24, 2020        logo

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

COVID-19 has created a huge amount of stress for our communities and families. We are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones. Unemployment and financial difficulties add to this stress. In times of great stress, violence in the home can increase. This Child Abuse Prevention Month, let’s remember that the best way to protect children from violence and neglect in the home is to take care of parents and families. This can look like a friend or community member connecting with a family through a virtual visit or phone call, or a neighbor dropping off a meal on the porch to a family so the family can reduce stress and enjoy each other.

Here are some ways that parents can take care of themselves and protect their families:

Find ways to reduce and manage stress

  • Take quiet time to reenergize: take a bath, write, sing, laugh, play, drink a cup of tea.
  • Do some physical exercise: walk, stretch, do yoga, lift weights, dance.
  • Share your feelings with someone you trust.
  • Surround yourself with people who support you and make you feel good about yourself.

Learn about parenting and child development.

  • Find someone you trust to ask questions and discuss parenting challenges.
  • Sit and observe what your child can and cannot do.
  • Find an online parenting class or workshop.

Maintain your social connections.

  • Connect with someone who inspires you over text or phone.
  • Find or create an online support group of parents with children at similar ages.

Know where to find help when you need it

  • Call 2–1–1 to find organizations in your area that support families.
  • Make a list of people or places to call for support.

Help your children feel safe and loved.

  • Provide regular routines, especially for young children.
  • Talk with your children about how important feelings are.
  • Teach and encourage children to solve problems in age-appropriate ways.

Help your family show how much you love each other.

Take time at the end of each day to connect with your children with a hug, a smile, a song, or a few minutes of listening and talking.

  • Find ways to engage your children while completing everyday tasks. Talk about what you are doing, ask them questions, or play simple games.

Practice compassion. Reach out to your friends, family, and neighbors who are raising children. How can you help provide emotional support?

More Information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

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COVID-19 Update April 23, 2020            logo

When to Use the Emergency Room 

Visits to the emergency room have declined in Washington and across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began. So far in April, visits to emergency departments in Washington are down nearly 40 percent compared to last year. It’s not entirely clear why, but it may be a combination of a number of factors.

It’s certainly likely that some causes for emergency room visits have decreased. With so many of us at home, we are driving less and working less, so it makes sense that there would be fewer visits to the emergency room for motor vehicle crashes and work-related injuries.

A more concerning possibility is that people who need emergent care may avoid the emergency room. It could be that people who have lost their jobs and health insurance may avoid going to the emergency room when they need to because they are concerned about the cost. If you have lost your job or your health care coverage, don’t wait to need care. Go to WAhealthplanfinder to see what coverage you are eligible for. Free or low-cost Apple Health is available year-round and a special enrollment is available to people who have life changes as a result of COVID-19.

People may also avoid the emergency room because of fear of catching COVID-19. Hospitals are working hard to make sure that emergency rooms stay safe. If you are in need of emergent care, the safest thing for you to do is go to the emergency room. It’s important not to wait too long to get medical care when you need it.

  • Call 911 for situations that cannot wait, such as choking, severe chest pain or pressure, or a seizure that lasted 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Go to an emergency room or call 911 for help for problems like trouble breathing, fainting, unusual or bad headache (especially if it started suddenly), severe pain anywhere on the body, severe allergic reaction, high fever with headache and stiff neck or that does not get better with medicine, poisoning or overdose, suicidal thoughts, or seizures.
  • If you are not sure what to do, call your health care provider for advice. You may be advised to go to the emergency room or it may be something an urgent care clinic can help with.

Avoiding needed health care doesn’t keep us safe. If you are having an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Practice compassion. As you check on your loved ones staying safe at home, make sure they know how to get emergency care if they need it. Stay home (unless you’re having an emergency!) and stay healthy,

More Information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

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COVID-19 Update, April 23, 2020         logo

Slowly Coming Back

The Stay Home, Stay Healthy interventions are working and have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19. This week the governor described his vision for safely reopening the state. Because of the successes our collective efforts have had, it is likely that the governor may soon loosen some of the restrictions around elective surgeries, outdoor recreation, and some construction.

But, it is important to make sure that a loosening of the Stay home, Stay Healthy order does not cause more people to be infected with COVID-19 or die of the disease.

So, as we begin to slowing reopen the state, there are several things we will need to do to make sure that we reopen safely. Not all of these are in place, and the governor did not announce any timelines or dates for modifying his Stay Home order yet. 

We will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 closely.

The governor described the loosening of restrictions as a dial we can turn up and down, adjusting to what the data tell us and to our ability to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We will all need to continue to practice physical distancing for some time.

This is likely to include continued teleworking for those who are able, continued distance learning, and continuing to stay at least six feet away from others. Of course, the success of these interventions is dependent on all of us also washing our hands thoroughly and frequently, using hand sanitizer when we can’t wash our hands, and being sure to stay home when we are feeling sick. Even just a little bit sick.

We must increase the availability of testing so that everyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 can get tested.

This will mean that we need to be processing between 20,000 and 30,000 tests a day, far more than we are currently doing. As testing availability increases, if we get a fever and cough or other symptoms of COVID-19, we will get tested and then isolate ourselves until the results come in. If we are positive, we will remember all the people we have had contact with in the recent past and tell public health staff about them. Then all of the people we had contact with will get tested and quarantine themselves until they have their results. This will require new testing resources, new public health resources, and the vigilance of all of us to stay physically distant from others, to call our health care provider if we get symptoms, and to follow instructions from our health care providers and public health. Working together, and following the science and data, we can work our way out of this crisis.

Practice compassion. We have a path forward, and we know it will require all of us to work together to keep each other safe.

More Information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

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COVID-19 Update, April 22, 2020     logo

Earth Day

Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans marched in the streets to draw attention to the fact that we are all connected and our actions have an impact on the world we live in and on our health. 

This lesson seems especially salient today. COVID-19 has taught us how tightly we are all connected — so much so that within a matter of weeks, a virus can spread from a market in China to the rest of the globe. We also know our health is intimately connected to the health of the environment and the health of the other animals we share it with. Most new infectious diseases, like COVID-19, are introduced to us through animals. As the environment changes, and the habitats of many species change, disease risk changes. The same global travel patterns that brought COVID-19 to Washington will eventually bring the mosquito that carries Zika and Dengue here as well. But it will be the environmental changes to mosquito habitat in this state that will invite it to stay.

COVID-19 has taught us that our health is dependent on the actions of other people. My health depends on you. Your health depends on me. If we all wash our hands, stay home when we’re sick, and wear cloth face coverings in public, we can keep each other healthy. Fifty years ago, the founders of Earth Day knew this. Since then we have made different individual choices and different policy choices, cleaning the air and water and improving our health significantly. Today we know more about other ways our choices affect the environment. We see global temperature increases, ocean acidification, and changes to the weather that make it harder for farmers to feed our country. Again, we need to make different individual choices and different policy choices. The health of the planet depends on you and on me. If we all reduce our carbon footprint, we can keep each other and the planet healthy.

COVID-19 has taught us that we can be gentler with the Earth. And when we are, the air clears. As we reopen the state, think about what you can do differently as we come back. What can you do that works for you and your family, while improving your health, the health of the planet, and the health of our communities? We can go to the store less. We can buy less. We can eat less red meat. We can drive less. We can telecommute more. These are solutions that are good for us, good for our health, and good for the planet.

Practice compassion. This Earth Day, consider what you can do as we reopen the state to come back in a way that respects the connectedness and interdependence of our health, our communities, and our planet.

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COVID-19 Update, April 21, 2020     logo

Rumor Buster

Here is today’s roundup of rumors on social media. Help us spread the facts! You can find credible information from www.doh.wa.gov or www.coronavirus.wa.gov.

You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211–211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.

Have doctors been told that they will get more money if they say that a person died of COVID-19?

No. Health care providers follow guidance from CDC and the Department of Health on how to certify the cause of death for their patients. This helps us make sure we have accurate information about the current causes of death. That guidance is posted on our website.

Is FEMA stealing gloves and masks that were supposed to go to the states?

No. FEMA is trying to help distribute gloves and masks within the US to local and state governments and hospitals. There are people and businesses who are hoarding gloves and masks or price gouging. The Department of Justice has a task force that has seized gloves and masks from people and businesses who were hoarding them or price gouging.

Is 5G cell phone technology linked to the cause of coronvirus?

Definitely not. 5G technology does NOT cause COVID-19 or have anything at all to do with it. A worldwide online conspiracy theory has attempted to link 5G cell phone technology to being one of the causes of the coronavirus.

Was COVID-19 created in a lab?

No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many species of animals. Viruses can change over time. Most likely, the virus that causes COVID-19 was common in bats, and mutated in a way that made it able to infect and pass between humans. The genetic sequence of the virus that is spreading in the US is very similar to the genetic sequence first published by China, which suggests that this virus crossed over from bats to humans just once, very recently, and then spread from person to person all over the world.

How well does my cloth face mask protect me from COVID-19?

In general, we wear cloth face masks because they protect other people from getting COVID-19 from us, in case we have it and don’t know. Cloth face masks work best if they have several layers of woven fabric, we have clean hands, and we stay at least six feet away from other people.

Can you get COVID-19 from a blood transfusion?

In general, respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 from blood transfusions.

Can I buy a test and check myself at home for COVID-19?

Not yet. There are no FDA-approved tests that you can buy right now to test yourself at home. This is something people are working on and might be available in the future.

Practice compassion. Do your part to stop the spread of rumors! There is enough uncertainty in the world as it is — there’s no reason to worry about things that aren’t true! 

More Information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

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COVID-19 Update, April 20, 2020          logo

Grief

The coming months will bring slow, measured relaxation of our physical distancing interventions. Even with a slow, phased re-opening of the state, we are likely to see COVID-19 spike again. We may open our doors, only to close them again in a matter of months. We will need to develop effective treatments for COVID-19 or a vaccine before we can stop dialing up and down the physical distancing interventions. Although it’s possible that treatments may be developed sooner, in the best case scenarios, we are still at least 12–18 months from a vaccine.

So this strange, new world we live in with the kids at home, job furloughs and losses, and makeshift work areas in busy corners of our homes, is going to be with us for a while. Polls show that 66% of Americans are concerned that the states will remove restrictions too quickly. Intellectually, we know the risks of COVID-19, and we understand why we need to stay in our homes. But that doesn’t stop us from having very real emotional reactions to the large and small losses we are experiencing.

We are grieving. And we might recognize some of our reactions as the stages of grief. These stages are natural responses to the feelings we have about our losses. And just like our feelings can change and we can have more than one feeling at a time, we can move back and forth among the stages of grief and experience more than one at a time.

Denial

Denial might feel like a sense of unreality. What is this surreal world I woke up into today? We just focus on getting through the day. We don’t want to wear a mask to the grocery store. We feel like this doesn’t really apply to us — I’m healthy, I’m young, I’ll be fine. We look for loopholes in the physical distancing rules and find a way to justify seeing our friends or setting up play dates. Denial is a normal response, but these are unhelpful actions. 

Anger

There are so many reasons to be angry. Angry at our leaders, angry at the stay at home order, and angry at school and business shutdowns. Angry at job losses and changes. Angry because the grocery store doesn’t have what you need or can’t deliver it today. There’s no need to suppress anger. Feel your anger and stay home.

Bargaining

Bargaining is a way of trying to live in the past. We wonder what if we had never shut down schools and businesses? Maybe this wasn’t necessary in the first place. What if we had shut down earlier? Would we be done by now?

Depression

This is a hard time. It makes sense to feel sad and to wish things were different. It’s not mental illness to be sad. If you are so depressed and anxious that you really struggle to get through the day, call your doctor or the crisis line.

Acceptance

We will eventually leave our homes and go to school and to work, but we are not going back to life exactly as we left it. This experience has changed us. We will have a new normal. With acceptance comes the creativity and ingenuity to bounce back and to make something great out of this new normal.

Practice compassion. More than two-thirds of us are worried that the states will open too soon. We are worried about our health, and we are worried about the economy and our jobs and our neighbors’ businesses. It’s normal and totally okay to have a wide range of emotions. Feel these feelings. Name them. And remember that we get to our “new normal” most quickly when we all stay home.

More information. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

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COVID-19 Update, April 18, 2020        logo

Frequently Asked Questions: Resources

As we struggle with increasing unemployment and financial difficulties, your county or city government may offer services and supports for people impacted by COVID-19. Here are some helpful tips and resources available throughout the state.

How do I sign up for WIC? WIC is for pregnant people, new and breastfeeding moms, infants, and children under five. Washington WIC has recently added many nutritious food options to help ensure WIC participants can find foods when shopping. You can sign up for WIC services without actually visiting a WIC clinic. To find WIC services in your area:

  • Call the Help Me Grow WA Hotline at 1–800–322–2588

  • Text “WIC” to 96859

How do I find internet access? Many internet service providers are waiving late payment fees and will not disconnect customers for late payments. In addition, Xfinity WiFi public hotspots are now open to everyone.

How do I get help to quit smoking? If you smoke or vape, you can get free help to quit by calling 1–800-QUIT-NOW or visiting doh.wa.gov/quit to access the new smartphone app. People who smoke are at risk for getting very sick if they get COVID-19. Smoking weakens the immune system and increases the risk of developing serious health complications from viral infections, especially those attacking the lungs, like COVID-19. Vaping may increase lung inflammation and make lung infections worse.

How do I find health insurance? If you have lost your job or your health care coverage, go to WAhealthplanfinder.org to get coverage. Free or low-cost Apple Health is available year-round and a special enrollment is available to people who have life changes as a result of COVID-19.

How do I file for unemployment? Unemployment checks from the state are going to people impacted by COVID-19 in record time, with an estimated $150 million in benefits paid since the crisis began. People who are eligible for benefits under the expanded federal criteria can apply after April 18. Employment Security Department recommends that you go to their website to:

  • Sign up for their COVID-19 action alerts.

  • Check the ESD eligibility checker to find out if you are currently eligible for benefits.

  • Read the application checklist to make sure that you have what you need.

  • Sign up for a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account if you don’t already have one. Watch this video that explains how!

How do I keep my mask from fogging up my glasses? The first thing to try is to make sure the mask is tight against your nose and cheeks so that less air comes out the top of it to fog your glasses. You can also try, just before putting your mask on, washing your glasses with soapy water, shaking off the rest of the water and very gently blotting them dry. This should leave behind a thin layer of soap that will keep the water vapor from fogging on your glasses.

Since when is hand sanitizer $100? Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is investigating complaints of price gouging and scams taking advantage of others because of COVID-19. You can file a complaint on their website.

Practice compassion. These are difficult times. It’s frustrating to stay at home, and we know that the physical distancing interventions will lift slowly as we watch to see what happens with the spread of the virus. Reach out to your friends and family to support each other as we continue to stay home to protect our loved ones.

More Information:  Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles. Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov. Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at 1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.

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COVID-19 Update, April 1, 2020       logo

Myth Bust: Don’t be an April Fool with COVID-19 facts

It’s the first of April, and we’re here with a COVID-19 myth-buster to help keep you from being an April Fool! Love myth-busters? The World Health Organization has one and so does the Washington state coronavirus page.

Myth: This doesn’t really affect me because I’m young and healthy.

Fact: People of all ages can get and spread COVID-19. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease) appear to be more at risk for getting very sick from the virus. For your own health and the health of your community, you need to stay home and away from people who don’t live in your house, wash your hands, and try not to touch your face.

Myth: You need a pass to travel to your essential job in Washington.

FactEssential workers are permitted to travel to and from work without a special permit.

Myth: I should probably stock up on some more groceries.

Fact: There has been no disruption to the supply chain that delivers goods. If we all purchase what we need without hoarding, there will be enough for everyone. Reduce waste and help your neighbors by buying just what you need. And remember! You can increase your social distancing while grocery shopping by using a grocery delivery or pick-up service. And you can increase social connection by offering to pick up a bag of groceries for a friend or neighbor.

Myth: Here’s a top secret way to protect yourself from COVID-19 that doctors don’t want you to know about!

Fact: Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. 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 not touch your face. There is nothing you can eat, bathe in, or inhale that will protect you from this virus. And some of the suggested “preventatives” on social media are downright dangerous. There is quite a bit of research going on into a vaccine or medications that may help, so we hope to be able to pass on that good news soon. But until then, just scroll past anything that sounds too good to be true.

Myth: The government called to ask for my private information.

Fact: That was not the government. The federal stimulus package included about $1,200 per person. This money has not been distributed yet, but some scammers are trying to take advantage of people. Remember — the government will never ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers. Anyone who does is a scammer. If you suspect fraud, report it.

Myth: We’re going back to normal after this.

Fact: Eventually we will leave our homes again, see our friends, and go to restaurants, and to work. But this is a life-changing experience. We won’t be “normal” again. Maybe we’ll hug our people tighter, maybe we’ll savor our time together more. Maybe we’ll help to keep the air clean by working at home more often. Maybe we’ll decide it’s important for everyone to be able to get health care when they need it. Maybe we’ll go for more walks. We will leave our houses again, but it won’t feel normal.

Myth: There’s nothing fun to do.

Fact: What? It’s Census Day! The census will determine how many congressional representatives Washington gets. Census results have an impact on planning and funding for health clinics and highways, fire departments and disaster response, education programs such as Head Start and college tuition assistance, and so much more. It takes less than 10 minutes to fill in. Complete yours today.

Practice compassion

Help fight the most damaging myth of all — that Asian Americans are somehow more at risk of having or spreading COVID-19. This is simply not true. The US now has more cases of COVID-19 than any other country, including China. Help bust this myth and protect our communities by fighting stigma and spreading truth. We are all in this together.

 

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COVID-19 Update, March 31, 2020     logo

Answering Your COVID-19 Questions

We continue to learn more about COVID-19 and how lives of Washingtonians are impacted. Let’s review some of our Frequently Asked Questions.

Who do I contact to report a business is remaining open?

Remember, “essential” businesses are allowed to operate because they provide a service that is critical to the health and safety of Washingtonians. If you’re concerned that a non-essential business is open and not complying with the governor’s order, you can file a complaint using the online form.

Should my child be getting routine vaccinations now?

During this pandemic, about the last thing we need is to start an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles on top of COVID-19. This is why the Washington State Department of Health recommends that routine vaccination should continue. We know that right now, some health care providers may not be able to provide well-child visits for all patients in their practice. However, we are asking health care providers, if they can provide only limited well-child visits, to prioritize newborn care and vaccination of infants and young children (through 24 months of age) when possible.

We and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are monitoring the situation and may provide additional guidance in the future. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also provided guidance on immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t these wipes say that they are flushable?

Please do not flush anything but toilet paper and what came out of you. Even wipes that are labeled “flushable” can cause major issues with wastewater and septic systems. Wipes also wreak havoc in municipal systems by plugging collecting lines and pumps.

How does the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order affect kids who live with two parents in separate houses?

The governor has clarified that his stay home-stay healthy order should not interfere with a private parenting plan. So, kids can travel to see both parents, as previously agreed in the parenting plan.

Are funerals banned by the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order?

Licensed funeral homes and cemeteries may conduct funeral services in a funeral home or at a graveside as long as the funeral is attended only by immediate family members of the deceased. The family members in attendance must maintain proper social distancing, by staying six feet apart.

I thought you were going to update the data on your website every day?

We thought so too. And we will. As soon as we can. Please know, we are committed to data transparency. We are working to ensure daily numbers are posted on time, but have had many recent challenges with our tracking system.

We’re having some technical difficulties with the Washington Disease Reporting System (WDRS). WDRS is the database labs and health care providers use to report notifiable conditions, like COVID-19, to us. Usually, we only ask for positive test results, but, for COVID-19, we are also tracking negative test results. The good news is that there are many more negative results than positive. The bad news is that this volume is overwhelming the system. We are working with the vendor supporting WDRS to increase capacity and looking into other ideas that might help. We’ll keep you updated if these technical issues persist.

Practice compassion

Are you working from home? In this virtual world don’t forget actual conversations. Give co-workers a call to check in on them, send an encouraging email, or share a funny (and safe for work) meme. These moments of connection give meaning to our work and make it more enjoyable. Stay home, stay connected, and stay healthy!

 

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COVID-19 Update, March 30, 2020    logo

Caring for Your Financial Health

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing financial hardship and uncertainty for many of us. Let’s look at some of the resources that might help.

  • The federal stimulus bill has just passed, and Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine has a brief video on YouTube to explain some of the changes that benefit Washingtonians. Go to esd.wa.gov to sign up for COVID-19 action alerts so you can take action as things change and apply for benefits you are eligible for.
  • The state’s coronavirus.wa.gov website has information to help sort through other benefits that may be available to you and your family — such as paid family leave and workers compensation — and resources for businesses and employees.
  • Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has developed a list of resources that might help address the financial impacts of COVID-19, including mortgage assistance, financial resources, and financial scams.
  • Beware of scams. The federal stimulus package included about $1,200 per person. This money has not yet been distributed, but some scammers are trying to take advantage of people. Remember — the government will never ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security Number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer. If you suspect fraud, report it.

Protect your physical and mental health

While you are home, if you come down with a fever and a cough, stay home. Follow our guidance for those who are sick symptoms similar to COVID-19. If you are unsure of how to care for yourself or are concerned about your condition, call your healthcare provider for advice. Keep yourself separated from other people and animals in your home. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often. So often.

If you are well, and you have an opportunity to rest, take it. Rest, and nourish yourself physically and emotionally. We live in a world that glorifies being busy. It’s okay to take advantage of this forced break to rest. Walk, stretch, dance. Meditate, play, make music. Read, watch TV, just breathe. The best thing you can do to boost your immune system is to sleep and rejuvenate from your normal busy, hectic life.

Maintain healthy relationships

Everyone loves to get mail from a friend! Reach out to a loved one the old fashioned way. Write a letter or send some postcards. Do your kids know how to address an envelope? Help them brighten someone’s day by mailing a drawing or coloring page they did themselves.

If snail mail isn’t the best option for you, reach out to friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and others in your community through email, social media, text, and video chat. If you don’t know your neighborhood, now is a great time to sign up with your local Nextdoor group.

Daily update on COVID-19 case numbers

Our Department of Health COVID-19 webpage is updated daily with the number of people confirmed to have positive cases and the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in Washington state. Today we have new online dashboard for displaying numbers. Please note that we have shifted our reporting process to make it more accurate, timely, and complete.

Get and spread reliable information on COVID-19

This blog update is current as of the day it is posted, but information changes rapidly. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please check Washington State’s new web portal at coronavirus.wa.gov. Follow the Department of Health’s response at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus. Or you can call our COVID-19 hotline at 1–800–525–0127, or email us at DOH.Information@doh.wa.gov.

Fight stigma, public panic, and misinformation by getting your information from trusted sources. Listen to guidance from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department.

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COVID-19 Update, March 29, 2020    logo

No Need to Stock Up or Disinfect Your Groceries

Grocery stores are open because they are essential businesses, but we still need to limit our time out of the house. Consider using grocery delivery services, or limit your grocery shopping to one trip a week.

COVID-19 is a new virus. It has been around for three months now, and we’re still learning a lot about it. One thing we know for sure is that it spreads easily from person to person through tiny droplets in the air after someone coughs or sneezes. Most of this spread happens when someone has symptoms, like a cough. These disgusting droplets can travel for up to six feet. It’s important that we don’t come within six feet of one another, so we don’t inhale any of those droplets if someone coughs.

It is possible for the virus to spread when someone doesn’t have symptoms, but this is not the main way it spreads. It is also possible for the virus to spread though droplets on hard surfaces, though this is also not the main way it spreads. That’s why it’s important that we wash our hands and try not to touch our faces, in case we touched a surface that had transmissible virus on it. If you wear gloves, touch a hard surface, and then touch your face with your gloved hands, the gloves have not protected you at all. If you don’t touch your face, you didn’t need the gloves. Just wash your hands.

We have no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is spreading through food at all. Not through take-out orders, groceries, or produce. When you return home from the grocery store, please thoroughly wash your hands, but there is no reason to try to disinfect your groceries. And please, don’t put disinfecting chemicals like household cleaners on the food you’re going to eat.

Speaking of groceries — agriculture and food production are also considered essential activities. This is to make sure food continues fill our grocery stores and food banks. Deliveries to grocery stores are continuing steadily, and farmers, ranchers, and food processors are producing plenty to meet our needs. There is no need to worry about shortages, and no need to stock up, other than to make sure you don’t have to leave the house more than once each week.

Practice compassion. While you are doing your once-a-week grocery shopping, is there something you can pick up for someone who cannot leave the house? Leave a bag on their porch, ring the bell, then run back to the side of the road to wave!

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COVID-19 Update, March 27, 2020  logo

We’re All in This Together

Remember early March? The kids were in school, and we only needed to stay home from work if we were sick. Today, the US has more cases of COVID-19 (81,321 and growing) than any other country in the world, including Italy and China. This virus has deeply affected all of us. It has changed the way we shop, the way we interact, the way we learn, the way we work, the way we worship, the way we play, and the way we plan for the future. And just as the virus has affected us all, we all have a responsibility to stop it. All of us. Young and old. We are all in this together, and, unless we are doing something on the governor’s list of essential activities, we need to just stay home. Not run to the office quick to get the mouse I wish I brought home. Not drive to the beach where surely there won’t be that many people. Not visit my friend just for a minute. Not let the kids play with the neighbor kids. We need to stay home. We are all in this together, at least six feet apart.

Are you looking for ways to help?

Are you a health care practitioner licensed in another state? 

We are now activating emergency volunteer health practitioners for the COVID-19 response. Under this program, a volunteer health practitioner who is licensed in another state may practice in Washington without obtaining a Washington license. These emergency volunteers will help meet emerging demands for health practitioners in areas impacted by COVID-19. A health practitioner must be in good standing in their home state and be registered with the Department of Health as an emergency volunteer. For more information and to register, see the Department of Health website.

 Are you eligible to donate blood? Blood donation is an essential activity because it saves lives. Contact Bloodworks Northwest to make an appointment. In order to meet social distancing recommendations and ensure the best and safest experience possible, they are accepting scheduled appointments only. It’s important for donors to keep their appointments, and make future appointments now to ensure blood stays available in our community.

 Do you know a child? Call or videochat with a child today and listen to how their day was. Did they read a book today? Maybe you can read one with them!

 Do you know someone who lives alone? Social distancing may be particularly isolating for them. Reach out and let them know you are thinking about them.

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Daily update on COVID-19 case numbers

Our Department of Health COVID-19 webpage is updated daily with the number of people confirmed to have positive cases and the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in Washington State. As of this writing, 3,700 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 175 have died of the disease. We are very likely to see more people with COVID-19 identified in the coming days.

Get and spread reliable information on COVID-19

This blog update is current as of the day it is posted, but information changes rapidly. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, please check Washington State’s new web portal at coronavirus.wa.gov. Follow the Department of Health’s response at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus. Or you can call our COVID-19 hotline at 1–800–525–0127 and press #, or email us at DOH.Information@doh.wa.gov.

 Fight stigma, public panic, and misinformation by getting your information from trusted sources. Listen to guidance from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department.

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COVID-19 Update, March 25, 2020   logo

Social Distancing and Mental Health

We need each other. Being isolated from other people can make our physical and mental health worse and can especially trigger anxiety and depression. Especially if you live alone, social distancing is hard on our bodies and our emotions. And when we add to that the worries about unknowns—will I get sick? Will someone I love get sick? What will happen to my job?—we layer on additional stresses to our physical and mental health. If you find yourself lonely, stressed, or anxious, pay attention to these emotions and take action:

  • Avoid watching, reading, or listening to news reports that cause you to feel anxious or distressed. A near-constant stream of news reports is not calming. Seek out information from reliable sources like the Washington State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just a couple times a day. Fact check what you see on social media. Spread good information.
  • Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks. Go for a walk and wave to your neighbors from six feet away. Ask them if they are well and if they need anything.  
  • Introduce structure into your day. Structure and routine may be helpful for people with mental health vulnerabilities, especially during times of uncertainty. Even if you are working from home or if your life looks completely different right now, try to maintain familiar routines in daily life as much as possible. Maybe we’ll feel better if we shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast.
  • Check out these resources to help support your mental health or that of a loved one:

And if you are in crisis, don’t hesitate to call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at 866-427-4747 or text HEAL to 741741 to get confidential text access to a trained crisis counselor any time of the day or night.

Remember, you can find great information on the state’s new web portal for information about COVID-19 (coronavirus.wa.gov), on the Department of Health website (www.doh.wa.gov), or on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov). Or you can call our COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 and press #, or email us at DOH.Information@doh.wa.gov.

Practice compassion. Staying away from other people is not good for us. It doesn’t make any sense except in the light of the compassion we have for our loved ones and communities. Stay at home to protect the people you love. Stay home and stay healthy!

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COVID-19 Update, March 24, 2020    logo

Getting Your Questions Answered 

So much has changed in the last several weeks, and the world has learned so much about COVID-19. Let’s review some of our Frequently Asked Questions. Some of the answers have changed since we last asked and answered them!

Do I have COVID-19? The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever (temp over 100.4 degrees F), tiredness, and dry cough. Some people also get aches and pains, stuffy or runny nose, a sore throat, or diarrhea. Some people get COVID-19 and don’t get any symptoms at all! Some people will get very sick with high fever and difficulty breathing. One of the reasons we are all staying at home as much as possible now is that we can’t always tell when someone might have COVID-19 or be contagious. So if we all stay home, we will not spread the virus, even if we don’t have symptoms (yet) or if we misinterpreted a new cough as allergies or something else.

Should I get tested? Testing is becoming more available, but we still don’t have as many test kits as we would need to be able to test as many people as we would like. Remember—there are no specific treatments for COVID-19, and most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing medical care. So getting a test result doesn’t change the medical advice you will get. If you have a fever, you should rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat nourishing foods.

I saw on social media that there’s a vaccine or cure or top secret thing doctors don’t want you to know about! Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, including this virus. There is nothing you can eat, rub on yourself, or inhale that will protect you from this virus or cure it. There is quite a bit of research going on into a vaccine or medications that may help, so I hope to be able to pass on that good news soon. But until then, just scroll past anything that sounds too good to be true.

Does ibuprofen make COVID-19 worse? This is such a new virus that doctors must make quick decisions for their patients without all the information they need. Some French doctors currently advise against using ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, many generic versions) for COVID-19 symptoms based on a few observations of people with COVID-19 who were taking ibuprofen and got worse. Of course, some people with COVID-19 do get worse. The studies that can help tell us whether ibuprofen may contribute to people with COVID-19 getting very sick haven’t been done yet. So, doctors and public health institutions have to figure out what to do with this little bit of unclear information. The World Health Organization initially recommended using acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen to help with fever and aches related to COVID-19. They have since updated that recommendation to say that either acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used.

I have a regularly scheduled doctor or dental appointment. Should I go? No. At this point—both to conserve the masks, gowns, and gloves that keep health care safe and to support us all in staying home—you should call your doctor and see if your appointment can be done over the phone or videochat or rescheduled. If you are not in pain, your dental appointment should be rescheduled. Elective surgeries should be rescheduled.

Can I get this from my pet? No. We have no reason to believe our pets can spread COVID-19 to us. Not from licking us or from us petting their fur. And, no, you should not try to get your pet tested for COVID-19.

What can I do to keep my immune system strong? The best way to keep your immune system strong is to take great care of yourself. Rest, eat fruits and vegetables, drink water, get moderate daily exercise. Try to reduce your stress, and get enough sleep. Connect with a friend or loved one.

What all is closed now? Well, actually, it’s easier to say what’s open. Gov. Jay Inslee has issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in Washington state which will be effective for a minimum of two weeks. The order requires every Washingtonian to stay at home. We can leave the house to get groceries or takeout, go for a walk or other exercise, or go to work at an essential business. All grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and food supply chains will remain open.

Do I work at an “essential business”? Your work is very important. Here is the list of what is defined as “essential”: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/whats-open-and-closed/essential-business

How long is this going to last? The governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order will last at least two weeks. It is likely that some amount of social distancing will be necessary for weeks or months beyond that. The better we do at staying home and away from other people, the quicker we will get the virus under control.

If we haven’t covered your question here, you can find great information on the state’s new web portal for information about COVID-19 (coronavirus.wa.gov), on the Department of Health website (www.doh.wa.gov), or on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov). Or you can call our COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 and press #, or email us at DOH.Information@doh.wa.gov. 

Practice compassion. Misinformation can lead to stigma, discrimination, and really poor decision making. Please help us spread good information!

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COVID-19 Update, March 23, 2020    logo

 

Coronavirus is Not Fair

If you have kids, maybe you’ve had a chance to develop your version of the “life’s not fair” speech. Here’s the public health version of it. There’s nothing fair about disease. Families in our state do not have equal access to medical care, or jobs, or food, or housing. And this puts some of our families at higher risk of getting sick, or losing income or even their homes as a result of a serious illness. Even the way we fight the spread of COVID-19 isn’t fair--some of us are able to stay home and protect ourselves and our loved ones, but some of us have to go to work to provide medical care or keep our grocery stores open. Some kids have access to on-line learning and leftovers in the fridge, and some kids do not. And on a fundamental level, some of us will get COVID-19, and some of us won’t. Some of us will recover, and some of us won’t. Some of us will be able to help others and some of us will need help. There’s nothing fair about it, but at least we know we are all in this together.

We have loved hearing stories about Washingtonians finding creative ways to help people in their communities who are in need. We have heard about Facebook communities connecting people who can help with people who need food or groceries delivered. A medical supply company donated their entire supply of personal protective equipment to local hospital emergency rooms. People are sewing masks in their own homes. Chefs and restaurants are turning their restaurants into community kitchens and providing meals to folks in need and to hard working first responders. Artists are hosting virtual dance classes and live concerts on line to keep us entertained. People have found creative ways to help each other, share what they have and build community, all while staying home! 

 Numbers. The latest numbers are on our webpage, which we update daily.  As of today’s web refresh, 33,933 people in Washington have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 2,221 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 110 have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Stories of discrimination against members of the Asian community are still being reported in the media. This is not fair. All people should feel safe and supported in their communities. 

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COVID-19 Update, March 21, 2020     logo

Pandemic Stress

Disease outbreaks bring feelings of overwhelm, helplessness and worry. Social distancing is absolutely necessary right now to protect ourselves and people we love. And it comes with a cost. It is massively disruptive to our lives and it takes away many of the usual outlets we have for blowing off steam—gyms are closed, bars and restaurants are closed, social media is an incessant reminder of the pandemic. If you have a chronic disease or deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis, you may be especially stressed right now. And, remember, those helping with the response efforts – nurses, doctors, first responders - are doing so while also worrying about their own health, and their families.

So what can we do to cope during this public health emergency?

Connect! It’s our relationships that will see us through this. Find a way to invest in those important relationships from at least 6 feet away. Skype, Facetime, Zoom or just talk on the phone. Videochatting is fun! You feel like a techno-wiz and you can see your friend and their pets and kids and make each other smile!

Take care of yourself. The old fashioned way—with nourishing foods, lots of sleep, deep breaths, and exercise. Exercise is especially good for your mental health. Unplug from social media. You know, after you’re done reading this.

Focus on anything else. Clean, cook, garden, sing, play games, create, read, write. Do whatever it takes to allow your mind to focus on the parts of your life that bring you energy and joy!

Know when to call for help. If you continue to feel overwhelmed and struggle to get through the day, call your health care provider, therapist or mental health provider and set up a telemedicine appointment.

Today's Frequently Asked Questions:                              

Don’t you have any good news? A little! China’s greenhouse gas emissions were down 25% in the last month. The skies in Wuhan are blue. The lack of boat traffic on the canals in Venice has improved the air quality and allowed the sediment in the water to settle. The water in the canals is clear and you can see fish. The carbon monoxide emissions in New York City are down 50% compared to last year this time. Let’s pay attention to what the world looks like when we prioritize the health of our communities, and, when all this is over, let’s come back to the world gently.

Numbers. The latest numbers are on our webpage, which we update daily.  As of today’s web refresh, 27,121 people in Washington have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 1,793 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 94 have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. Coronavirus is an international pandemic. It belongs to the whole world now. Calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” or anything else that references China is inappropriate and divisive.

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COVID-19 Update, March 19, 2020    logo

Child Care and Frequently Asked Questions

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 information on our website 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 Washington State Department of Health website, the CDC, and the World Health Organization. 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.

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Get and spread reliable information on COVID-19
This blog update is current as of the day it is posted, but information changes rapidly. Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

Fight stigma, public panic, and misinformation by getting your information from trusted sources. Listen to guidance from Washington State, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department.

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COVID-19 Update, March 17, 2020    logo

Save Some for Your Neighbors!  Shop responsibly.   

Yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced an immediate two-week closure of all restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities.

But you know what’s still open? Grocery stores!

We are still seeing store shelves that are empty of many supplies, especially hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, and plastic gloves. This is because we are “overstocking” — buying too much and making it hard for our neighbors to find products when they need them. Reduce waste and help your neighbors by buying just what you need.

And now that you’ve got just the groceries you need, here are some tips for cooking them up at home!

  • Only handle food when healthy. People who are coughing, feverish, short of breath, or otherwise sick should stay out of the kitchen.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and during food preparation.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables before cutting or eating. Bagged lettuces that are ready-to-eat do not need additional washing.
  • Wash, rinse, and sanitize cutting boards, tables, utensils, and other food contact surfaces often.
  • Read the whole recipe before you start cooking. (Not for your health. This is just a good tip.)

There is no reason to suspect that COVID-19 is spread through food or water. Just rinse raw fruits and vegetables before cutting or eating like always. The governor has closed restaurants for the next two weeks to increase social distancing, not because the food is a risk. That’s why takeout and delivery are still good options!

Stay tuned to Washington State Department of Health's blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. The full article can be found at: https://medium.com/wadepthealth/save-some-for-your-neighbors-c61b013ae939

This blog update is current as of the day it is posted, but information changes rapidly. Please check our website for the most up-to-date info on Washington’s response to COVID-19 at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

Fight stigma, public panic, and misinformation by getting your information from trusted sources. Listen to guidance from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department.

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state, start by visiting Washington State Department of Health website. 

Washington State Department of Health 

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COVID-19 Update, March 15, 2020     logo

 

Social Distancing vs. Social 'Disruption"

Good afternoon! The state Department of Health wants to keep you as informed as possible about continuing developments surrounding COVID-19 as well as guidance and resources you can share with employees, clients, or customers. If you want to manage your e-newsletter subscription preferences, you cando so here.

Coming together to stay apart. If it has started to seem like social distancing might be a major inconvenience, well, yes, it is. Social distancing is a huge disruption. A disruption that is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, to make sure we have enough health care resources to take care of the people who need them most, and to protect our loved ones who are at high risk for severe disease.

Let’s talk about what social distancing means for our daily lives.

  • It generally means we stay out of places where people gather: Places like movie theaters, religious gatherings, public transportation, group fitness classes, coffee shops. (I understand there are YouTube videos reminding us how to make coffee at home.)

  • We all need to stay at home as much as possible. And when it isn’t possible, we need to work together to stay at least 6 feet away from each other.

  • Many people cannot work from home. If it is at all reasonable for you to do your work at home, please do. Every day.

  • The schools are closed to keep the kids away from each other so that they do not spread germs to one another and to the community. We need to keep them away from each other. Please do not arrange large playdates, sleepovers, or parties. Take your children to parks and enjoy the outdoors. Take lots of walks outside, but get used to saying, no, sorry, you can’t come pet the dog.

  • Use a grocery delivery service to reduce the number times you need to go to the grocery story. If you do need to physically go to the store, try to go at odd hours when they won’t be busy, and be sure to wash your hands before and after your trip.

Stopping a pandemic in its tracks calls for cooperation, patience, handwashing and, yes, isolation. We can do it.

Numbers. The latest numbers are on our webpage, which we update daily. As of today’s web refresh, 769 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 42 have died of the disease.

Practice compassion. And all the while we are working to stay physically apart from one another, think about what you can do to maintain connections with your friends and neighbors. Drop off a great book on a neighbor’s porch with a little note. Call a friend to check in. Help your kids draw a picture or a card to mail to a relative. Stay connected, from a distance of at least 6 feet.

 

 

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