COVID-19 Response

There are a number of viral respiratory germs circulating in Snohomish County right now, including seasonal influenza. We understand the desire of people who are currently sick to be tested for COVID-19, along with those who fear they may be infected with COVID-19 but are currently asymptomatic.


However, not everybody who feels ill needs to be tested, particularly if you have mild illness. Healthcare providers determine who should be tested, based on specific symptoms. While testing is becoming more available, there are still limitations in the ability to quickly collect and process tests.


For now, if you have mild symptoms (cough, fever), you need to stay home and stay away from people.

COVID-19

Snohomish County’s Emergency Blog

New rules are in place to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in our community. Snohomish County is specifically asking the following:

  • For your health and the health of county employees, please first check online for any county services you may need. We want to limit public contact in our buildings.

  • If you are over 60 or have underlying health conditions, please consider staying at home and otherwise maintaining social distancing.

  • Reduce the chances of spreading or contracting the virus by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching the face, and keeping at least six feet away from others.

  • If we work together and accept the unique nature of COVID-19, we will all stay healthy.

For the best up-to-date and accurate information go to the Snohomish Health District, Washington State Department of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpages.

Information relating to schools, events, workplaces, and mental health can be found below.


Schools

Gov. Jay Inslee announced mandatory six-week closures for K-12 public and private schools across all 43 School Districts in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties on Thursday, March 12. Schools are expected to be closed no later than Tuesday, March 17. Many schools have already announced closures ahead of this mandate. The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction page contains a tracker of public and private school closures related to COVID-19. At this time, schools will remain closed through Friday, April 24.  

Because the COVID-19 virus situation is fast-changing, please watch for school district messages and refer to your school district website, or private school website, for the latest information. 

Family Access to Meals

Every family that needs nutrition will be able to get free meals from their school, Gov. Inslee said, even if they did not qualify before. Districts are exploring the best ways to provide for student nutrition during the closure. Please refer to your school district website for details. 

Will classes be held online?  

Districts are working hard to provide educational resources while classrooms are closed. In some cases, that will include online learning. Please refer to your school district website for the latest information. 


How will I know if someone in my school district has contracted COVID-19? 

Numbers and locations of COVID-19 infections are being reported on the Snohomish Health District website. 

Will sporting events and other extracurricular activities be held? What about state sports tournaments? 

Probably not, because gatherings of 250+ people are temporarily prohibited, by order of the health officer. But check with your student’s coach or school district website for the latest information. 

How will this effect high school seniors and the credits they are earning toward college? Are proctored college entrance exams still happening?  

Answers to these questions will have to be worked out in coming weeks. Watch for messaging from your school district. Gov. Inslee is encouraging colleges to be flexible regarding admission requirements this year. 
 

Will school buildings be off limits? 

No. As long as best health practices are followed, schools can be used to provide essential support services. 
 
Are there any special provisions being made for students experiencing homelessness?  

Districts are exploring the best ways to provide for these students. Please refer to your school district website for details. 

 

May I home-school my child?  

Please check with your school district regarding its home-school policies and support, and see the state’s home-based Instruction rules.


Will day care centers be open?  

Please check with your family’s day care provider. A comprehensive list of closures is in the works. 
 


Will YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs remain open? What about city recreation facilities? Libraries? 

Facilities are open at this time, but you should check for updates with the YMCA of Snohomish County.  Or your local Boys & Girls Club. Contact Everett Public LIbrary or Sno-Isle Libraries for updates.  

 

Will these closures mean my student will have to make up the lost days this summer?  

That is likely. Watch for direction from your school or school district.  

More information on school closures:



Events

We are not at the peak of this outbreak. That is why early, comprehensive, and sustained social distancing is critical. We know that this will have impacts on the people of Snohomish County, but we urge you to respect these essential measures. They have been carefully considered with the goal of keeping people safe and healthy.

Dr. Chris Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District, issued an order on March 11 that all events with more than 250 people are prohibited in Snohomish County. Governor Jay Inslee also announced that gatherings of 250 people or more are being prohibited in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties at least through the end of March.

Under the order, events with fewer than 250 attendees also are prohibited unless organizers take steps to minimize risk. Those steps include:

  • Older adults or people with underlying conditions are encouraged not to attend.
  • Social distancing recommendations are in place. People should avoid being within 6 feet of each other for longer than momentary or minimal contact.
  • Employees are screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and are excluded if symptomatic.
  • Proper hand hygiene and sanitation is readily available to attendees and employees.
  • Environmental cleaning guidelines from the CDC are followed, including more cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces at least daily.

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

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

In any event or group situation, the larger the group, the higher the risk. The closer the contact to others, the higher the risk.

Workplace Concerns

Should I go to work? Should I send somebody home?

Here is some advice from Dr. Spitters:

Employees should ensure they are fever-free and asymptomatic before leaving home and reporting for work. If they do not have fever or respiratory symptoms they may report to work. 

While at work, if they develop fever (measured temperature above 100.0 F or subjective fever) OR respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, cough, or difficulty breathing, they should:

  • immediately self-isolate (separate themselves from others);
  • notify their supervisor;
  • go home and stay home until 7 days after symptom onset or 72 hours after symptoms resolve, whichever is longer; and
  • If symptoms persist or worsen, call their health care provider for further guidance.

Employers in healthcare settings could consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms prior to starting work. For others, relying on employee reports is acceptable in most settings.

Employers are encouraged to maximize telecommuting options for as many employees as possible, but particularly individuals at risk of COVID-19.

Additional recommendations to decrease social contacts in the workplace include:

  • Increase physical space between workers and customers at the worksite – 6 feet apart
  • Decrease social contacts in the workplace (limit in-person meetings, break room, cafeteria, and other gatherings)
  • Stagger work schedules, consider alternate team approaches for work schedules.
  • Establish liberal leave and telework policies, 7-day leave policies for people with symptoms
  • Cancel non-essential work travel and work-sponsored conferences, tradeshows, etc.

The health district has compiled an entire page of COVID-19 guidance and advice for businesses and employers: https://www.snohd.org/492/COVID-19-Info-for-BusinessesEmployers

Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Liza Patchen-Short, the Snohomish County Children’s Mental Health Liaison with Human Services Behavioral Health, recommends following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.  The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community, and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  • People who have preexisting mental health conditions, including problems with substance use
  • Children
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, such as doctors and other health care providers, or first responders

Additional information and resources on mental health care can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • People with deafness or hearing loss can use their preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.

Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.

Call your healthcare provider if stress reactions interfere with your daily activities for several days in a row.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
  • Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.

Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.

For parents:

Children react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for in children:

  • Excessive crying and irritation
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (e.g., toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child:

  • Talk with your child about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child can understand.
  • Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know if is OK if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the event. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Help your child to have a sense of structure. Once it is safe to return to school or child care, help them return to their regular activity.
  • Be a role model; take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members and rely on your social support system.

Learn more about helping children cope.

For responders:

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

  • Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the outbreak.
  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.
  • Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

For people who have been released from quarantine:

Being separated from others if a health care provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Some typical reactions after being released from COVID-19 quarantine can include:

  • Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
  • Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself, or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
  • Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
  • Other emotional or mental health changes

Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine. You can help your child cope.

Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.

Mental Health Resources:

The Volunteers of America Western Washington offers crisis care support for those who are experiencing mental and emotional distress related to this outbreak. This may include family members who are separated from loved ones at long-term care facilities where visitation is being limited to prevent the spread of illness to a vulnerable population. 


Please note that this crisis line is not the proper venue for questions about COVID-19 or the public health or health care response. The crisis line is staffed by mental health professionals, but they do not have information about patients, testing, event cancellations, or other details of the COVID-19 response.


The contact information for the crisis line for residents of Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan, Island, or Whatcom counties is: 800-584-3578 by phone or www.imhurting.org for text or chat.

For Everyone

For Communities

For Families and Children

For First Responders