FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, 425.339.8688
Health District guidance for businesses, updates on testing and data
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The data shows that social distancing is working to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Snohomish County. Specific requirements may change throughout the spring and summer, but some level of distancing – along with increased hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting, and other illness prevention measures – will still be needed for quite some time to protect our community against a resurgence of COVID-19.
While there may be the need to cancel events, modify activities or otherwise adjust our plans, Snohomish County will persevere. Please continue to support businesses and organizations, as well as checking in on friends, family and neighbors. Small gestures of kindness can go a long way.
Residents are encouraged to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Do so safely by staying close to home, maintaining at least six feet of distance from others who are not household members, and respecting closures or partial closures of parks, playgrounds or other outdoor venues.
Guidance for business operations and planning
With critical infrastructure businesses like Boeing beginning to restart and expand operations, it is an important time for other businesses to begin planning for how they will phase back in.
Boeing has been working to make significant adjustments to their operations with COVID-19 in mind, including the fact that not everyone will return at the same day and time. This is something that all businesses in our county should begin doing, if they have not already done so.
Here are some recommendations from the Snohomish Health District on what to consider:
- If telework is an option, promote and encourage that as much as possible.
- Evaluate options for staggered shifts to reduce the number of employees in an area at a given time.
- Ensure that employees will perform self-health checks before coming to work.
- If an employee becomes unwell during the work day, have plans send them home immediately.
- Understand that cloth face coverings will be a new normal for a while, especially where physical separation cannot be maintained for an extended period.
- Encourage employees to wash hands prior to leaving work and again upon arriving home.
- Changing and laundering clothes, or showering after working, are other good practices.
- Review more suggestions in Pandemic Planning Guide for Businesses.
These are recommendations for business planning. It is not a signal for the broader community to begin hosting playdates, visiting with friends or family, etc. Snohomish County and Washington still remain under a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
Individuals and businesses must remain steadfast in their collective commitment to slow the spread of illness. The Snohomish Health District will be closely monitoring data, and coordinating with our other public health and healthcare partners, to ensure the cases don’t start to increase again.
Farmers markets and produce stands
Farmers markets are a key piece of our communities where we find local, fresh, and healthy food. Some accept nutrition benefit programs like WIC or SNAP, opening more healthy options for families.
Farmers markets and produce stands are considered essential businesses during the COVID-19 response, and food or other essential vendors are allowed. There are measures that must be taken to keep people safe and healthy at markets. The Snohomish Health District has published a number of resources to help farmers market managers, vendors and shoppers:
Summer events or programs
There are many summer events that people have been planning for several months, as well as annual summer programs that would usually be gearing up or enrolling participants right now.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, people should not be planning for summer events the same way they normally would. This illness and the measures needed to limit its spread will require adjustments to plans, even ones that are scheduled for weeks or months in the future.
At this point, the Snohomish Health District is not recommending cancelation of all summer events. However, it is recommended that people and organizations have plans for enhanced social distancing, sanitation and hygiene measures. Groups and event planners should be cautious about making plans that extend beyond what is currently allowable. Organizers should also plan to remain flexible, as guidance may need to be revised in the coming weeks and months.
It is a good time to consider whether events or programs can be done while meeting these measures. Keep in mind that health and safety orders in place at the time of your event may require you to cancel or reschedule. For example, under the current Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, non-essential gatherings are not allowed, even with distancing and hygiene in place. Later in the spring and summer, the degree of social distancing requirements may change, allowing for some events or activities to resume.
More details, and suggestions of what organizers should consider, are available in the Snohomish Health District’s new blog COVID-19 and Farmers Markets, Summer Plans.
Update on testing operations
As announced last week, the Snohomish Health District has made modifications to community-based testing operations. Thursday was the final day of drive-thru testing in Everett, and the site at 3900 Broadway has now been demobilized. On the final two days, 238 individuals were tested at the site.
Staff were also deployed two high-risk long-term care facilities this week, testing more than 100 patients and staff. These are facilities where at least one patient or staff member has tested positive.
For the week of April 20, the Health District will not have a drive-thru site open to the public. Instead, it will focus on more surveillance testing at long-term care facilities. Kits will continue to be made available to first responders and Snohomish County’s newly formed SAFE teams.
The Health District will evaluate available supplies on a weekly basis to determine if additional drive-thru testing sites could be opened in other locations around Snohomish County.
People still should contact their medical provider for guidance and assessment if they have symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and/or shortness of breath. For medical emergencies, they should call 911 and notify the dispatch personnel that you may have COVID-19.
More information and updates will be made available at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
Case updates and new data
The Snohomish Health District updates case counts online at 2:00 p.m. everyday.
In addition to the case counts, staff have been working to make more information available. Today’s addition is a new chart that tracks positive and negative tests results.
The Health District has also been evaluating the possibility of racial or ethnic disparities related to COVID-19. Epidemiologists reviewed an initial 1,118 cases and determined the rates of COVID-19 per 100,000 by race and ethnicity.
The differences observed across racial and ethnic groups may reflect:
- A higher representation of minority groups in essential job classes resulting in greater exposure on the job and in transit, more crowded living conditions; and/or
- A higher prevalence of underlying medical problems like diabetes or high blood pressure that can make disease more severe and more likely to result in testing.
In addition to higher incidence of reported COVID-19, hospitalization rates were also higher for Latinos but deaths were not. Among other non-Asian racial minorities, the number of hospitalizations and deaths were too small to draw any firm conclusions, although the observed data showed no suggestion of higher hospitalization or death rates in those groups.
More details can be heard in the recording of today’s media availability, or by reading the transcript available online.
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.