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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 31, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, issued two health officer orders today. The first extends Order No. 20-060 and Order No. 20-059 in order to continue reducing the likelihood that individuals will be exposed to COVID-19 at community events and gatherings. Order No. 20-061, which goes into effect at midnight, extends the prohibition indefinitely in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
The new order focuses on the critical importance to remain in self-quarantine if exposed to a confirmed case or symptomatic with a pending test, or to stay isolated away from others if they tested positive for COVID-19. Order No. 20-062 has two parts:
This means individuals should not leave their home or recovery facility for any reason, except to receive medical care.
For individuals with symptoms, their isolation or quarantine should only end after at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer. Symptom-free means no fever without the use of fever reducing medications and improvement in any respiratory symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath.
If an individual with active COVID-19 is not voluntarily remaining isolated, or if an individual who has COVID-19 symptoms with a test pending is not remaining self-quarantined, they may be subject to enforcement actions. This could include legal actions for involuntary detention.
The public has been highly accepting of and cooperative with public health’s actions done to protect the community’s health and well-being in Snohomish County. While these orders are enforceable by law, our focus is on helping people understand the importance of social distancing. Pursuing legal action would be a last resort for resolving violations and should be unnecessary for individuals who are concerned about the health of others.
As announced on March 28, Snohomish County is opening an isolation and quarantine facility this week at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. Isolation and quarantine is a proven public health practice for reducing the spread of disease. Examples of people who may need this assistance include people who cannot safely isolate from a family member who is elderly or medically fragile, or people experiencing homelessness.
Individuals can only be placed into the site after the Snohomish Health District has determined that they need isolation or quarantine. The number of people at the isolation and quarantine sites will be included in regular updates provided by the Health District. However, no other identifying or personal information will be provided.
Individuals with underlying health conditions and those over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. This is one of the reasons the Snohomish Health District has assembled an outreach team focused on infection prevention and control in assisted living, skilled nursing and similar long-term care facilities.
On March 27, there were seven long-term care and assisted living types of facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of March 31, there are now 20 facilities with confirmed cases involving patients or staff, and an additional 5 facilities with pending tests.
Washington State guidelines for data release, which are intended to protect patient privacy, discourage us from releasing settings with fewer than five cases. For that reason, only Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood (with 21 cases) and Sunrise View in Everett (31 cases) are being listed individually online.
This increase in the number of facilities with cases is quite concerning, particularly given the limited staff and PPE resources in our communities. The Snohomish Health District is working to establish broader surveillance testing for high-risk facilities. This means those facilities with at least one confirmed case.
Staff and leadership at long-term care, assisted living, skilled nursing and adult family homes must ensure they are complying with all local, state and federal guidelines. While these guidelines may feel too restrictive, especially in regards to visiting loved ones, they are in place to protect the workers, patients and our communities. In order to do that, these facilities to be proactive and transparent with Health District staff. They should not wait for multiple people to be symptomatic.
The goal continues to be working together to limit the spread of infection community wide.
The Snohomish Health District is continuing to operate the community based drive-thru testing site located near Everett Memorial Stadium at 3900 Broadway. During the first week of operations, 954 individuals were seen for testing.
Appointments through April 3 are currently available online at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing for eligible individuals meeting criteria.
The Snohomish Health District updates case counts online at 2:00 p.m. everyday.
The health and safety of Snohomish County remains the Health District’s top priority. The community is encouraged to help prevent the spread of illness and to support the response to this outbreak by staying informed and sharing reliable information. This is a very fluid situation and information will be updated at www.snohd.org/ncov2019 and the Health District’s social media channels.