March 27, 2020, update.
The Washington State Department of Heath continues to monitor and investigate the public health risk associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus illness.
As of Friday, March 27th, 3,723 Washington State residents are known to have contracted COVID-19, of which 913 are from Snohomish County, 1,828 are from King County, 231 are from Pierce County, 79 are from Island County, and 91 are from Skagit County. All counties have reported at least one infection.
175 of these patients died from the disease, although some deaths may have been reported by local health care providers or others before they are included in this statewide count.
The department is no longer publishing the number of persons who are being monitored because they are at risk of having been exposed to the disease.
The Department of Health has established a call center to answer the public’s questions. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
Snohomish County case count as of March 27th. Image courtesy of Snohomish County Health District.
January 24, 2020, Washington State Department of Health press release.
Since announcing the first case of 2019 novel coronavirus in Washington on January 21st, several local and state agencies continue to work on a multi-faceted public health response.
While the risk to the public remains low, epidemiologists at the county, state and federal levels are hard at work on a contact investigation to identify, notify, and monitor those who came into close contact with the patient who tested positive for 2019 n-CoV.
The current number of close contacts of the single infected Snohomish County resident stands at 50. This is the number of close contacts being actively monitored in Washington state. We plan to update the number of close contacts daily at 3:00 pm here on the Department of Health website.
The patient who tested positive for 2019 n-CoV remains in satisfactory condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett and no discharge date has been set.
We know that the patient traveled to Sea-Tac on January 15th before he became ill. We are notifying other people from Washington who were sitting close by the patient on the airplane in an abundance of caution.
The Washington State Department of Health, in collaboration with local health departments, is investigating a few individuals (unrelated to the first patient/case) for the novel coronavirus infection. Should they test positive we will notify the public. As a reminder, respiratory illnesses are very common at this time of year.
There are steps people can take to reduce their risk of getting any viral respiratory infections. These include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
- It is also important for people to stay at home away from others if they are sick.
When it comes to protecting the public’s health, we are all in this together. Allowing for misinformation to spread, stigma to thrive, or otherwise ostracizing community members is counter-productive to improving public health and safety.
DOH has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
January 22, 2020, Washington State Department of Health press release.
Since announcing a case of 2019 novel coronavirus in Snohomish County, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and Snohomish Health District have been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on interviewing the patient and beginning a contact investigation.
This includes establishing a detailed travel history with the patient and identifying close contacts who may have experienced some level of exposure.
Health officials are actively monitoring these contacts, which means a public health worker will call each person daily to check for symptoms like fever or respiratory issues. Should one of these close contacts develop symptoms, they will be instructed to immediately contact the public health worker, who will help arrange a medical evaluation.
“As of now, we have identified at least 16 close contacts. Local public health staff started reaching out to them yesterday and continue to do so today,” said Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters.
He went on to say, “The risk to the general public remains low. If there is a location where we are concerned about potential transmission, and where public health cannot contact those individuals directly, that information will be released quickly."
Coronaviruses are primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally have to be within six feet of someone who is contagious and have droplets land on them. This is very different from airborne diseases like measles, so the public health response is very different.
As we learn more about 2019 novel coronavirus, we will better understand when people become contagious, but other coronaviruses are not contagious when the person does not have symptoms. The patient did not report any symptoms during his flight or at the airport. But out of an abundance of caution, the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine is working with the airlines and state health departments to ensure appropriate passenger notification.
“This may be a novel virus, but it is not a novel investigation,” said Secretary John Wiesman.
He added, “Public health staff participate in these types of investigations all the time and are well trained to have these conversations.”
Advice to the general public is the same as every cold and flu season:
- Wash your hands regularly, and
- If you’re sneezing and coughing, stay home.
If you’ve traveled from Wuhan City, China, into the U.S. and you have symptoms, seek advice from your health care provider.
If you don’t have a health provider, reach out to your health department. At this time people should go about their usual routines and activities.
DOH has established a call center to address questions from the public.
If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
The Snohomish Health District, with support from our Medical Reserve Corps and Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, have also activated a call center. Snohomish County residents and visitors with questions can call 425-388-5088 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm starting Wednesday, January 22nd. Call volumes will be monitored to determine when that call center will be deactivated.
More information on 2019 novel coronavirus is available from:
Updates will be provided as they become available.
From a January 21, 2020, Washington State Department of Health news release.
Today the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed a case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in a Snohomish County resident.
While the risk to the general public is low, DOH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Snohomish Health District to identify and contact all those who may have come in contact with the infected traveler. These individuals will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
“As our team of experts partners with infectious disease specialists locally, nationally and around the globe to learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, our first priority remains public safety,” said Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
He went on to say, “We believe the risk to the public is low. And as this situation evolves, we will continue to communicate with the CDC, Snohomish County and the public.”
The patient, a man in his 30s, is the first person known to be infected with 2019-nCoV in the United States. He arrived in Snohomish County on Wednesday, January 15th, after traveling from Wuhan City, China, where an outbreak of 2019-nCoV has been underway since December 2019. As of the morning of January 21st, there were 300 cases worldwide but that number is likely to grow.
The Washington patient developed symptoms and was seen at a clinic in Snohomish County. Specimens were collected and sent to the CDC for testing. The patient is currently being observed at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
“Last night, the Snohomish Health District coordinated with local partners to safely transport the patient to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. This is all being done following our jointly developed infectious disease protocols. No one wants to be the first in the nation in these types of situations, but these are the types of situations that public health and its partners train and prepare for. Because of this, everything has been going along quite smoothly,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer, Snohomish Health District.
The outbreak in Wuhan, China was originally linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak. Human to human spread has been confirmed. How easily or sustainably this virus is spreading remains unknown.