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Like MERS and SARS, COVID-19 closely resembles coronaviruses found in bats but not humans. Scientists believe that the virus had a change in its genes that permitted it to spread to humans, possibly via an intermediate carrier in an animal market in Wuhan, China.
The virus can be transmitted from person to person via droplets that come from the nose or mouth, especially when we cough or sneeze. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through: the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact like shaking hands, or touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
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A separate webpage and FAQ is available specifically for COVID vaccine information. Find that information at www.snohd.org/covidvaccine.
A coronavirus describes a large number of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illness. There are coronaviruses that have caused more severe illness, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Novel coronavirus 2019 is a new coronavirus, first identified in late 2019, and can cause severe illness. Other terms you may see used to name this virus include: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, or 2019-nCoV.
This is a respiratory illness. Symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat, difficulty breathing, chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and congestion or runny nose. New symptoms have been identified over time and the CDC has a full list.
The degree of severity of these symptoms varies. There have been many deaths from this illness. However, most cases do not appear to be severe.
It is possible to be ill with the virus and exhibit mild symptoms or no symptoms.
If you find out you have been exposed to COVID, it can be scary and stressful. It is important to monitor your symptoms and test as soon as possible. Mask up and limit interactions with others who are at high risk of severe illness until you get a negative COVID test result. Stay home and away from others if you develop any symptoms of illness. Find more information in the guidance from the Washington State Department of Health.
Our updates on case counts are published at www.snohd.org/casecounts.
More information also is available in the Washington State Department of Health COVID data dashboard.
No. It is true that we lose lives every year during flu season, and that many of the same strategies for preventing the spread of flu – washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, staying home while ill – are helping us fight COVID-19. But it’s crucial that you don’t mix up COVID-19 and the flu.
Many public gatherings and activities have resumed. Please be sure to respect the rules of the venue, which may include masking or distancing. Stay home if you feel ill.
Statewide mask mandates have been lifted as of March 12, 2022. Masks must still be worn in certain situations, such as in healthcare facilities. Private businesses may still require masks in their facilities, as well. People may still choose to wear masks for personal reasons, such as a compromised immune system.
There is a lot of great information out there on masking, including from the Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, the Department of Labor and Industries, and Governor Jay Inslee. We encourage you to check out those resources.
For disposable face masks, remove while distanced from others and place into a trash receptacle. A standard trash can for garbage is fine. Used masks do not need to be disposed of in a dedicated medical or hazardous waste receptacle. Wash or sanitize hands after removing and disposing of the mask. If possible, it is helpful to the cut the strings of the mask to prevent them from tangling around wildlife if the mask does not stay contained in a trash receptacle. Please do not litter masks on the ground.
For reusable cloth face coverings that have worn out and can no longer be re-used, wash them as you normally would (by hand or in a washing machine), let them dry, and then dispose of them in the garbage as you would a disposable face mask.
For healthcare workers in a medical setting, follow proper procedures for donning, doffing and disposing of personal protective equipment.
As of March 12, 2022, masks are not required in most business settings. Private businesses and organizations may still require mask use, and masks will still be required in some situations, including healthcare facilities and public transportation. Please respect the rules of the room you are in. For a full list of places where face coverings are required, please go here.
Businesses and organizations should follow statewide health and safety guidance, as well. Maintain frequent cleaning, sanitizing and handwashing, and ensure that employees are staying home if they are ill. Have a plan in case there is a COVID illness in your workplace. Unvaccinated workers still need to quarantine if exposed to a positive COVID case in the workplace.
It’s a common strategy for reducing the spread of disease. The closer the contact between people – and the more people in a group – the greater the risk of passing along viruses. Distancing of at least six feet from non-household members was recommended throughout much of this pandemic. While distancing requirements have lifted in most venues, please continue to be respectful of distance from others, particularly in crowded areas.
A combination of Health Officer’s Orders, Governor’s Orders and State Secretary of Health’s Orders have been issued during this response. The Governor and Secretary of Health can issue orders for the state – including Snohomish County – and the Health Officer also has the authority to issue orders specifically for Snohomish County.
First, we do not take these measures lightly. They are carefully considered and based on the best information we have about this virus and the ability to reduce transmission. We know these rules have a large impact on our communities. However, they are crucial for the preservation of lives.
In Washington, the state Legislature enacts statutes, the Governor and state agencies enforce laws and promulgate regulations, and the courts interpret the laws.
RCW 70.05.070 lays out the powers and duties of a local health officer. This includes: “Take such action as is necessary to maintain health and sanitation supervision over the territory within his or her jurisdiction.” These measures are put in place to maintain the health of the people of Snohomish County.
There are currently no restrictions for who can be tested for COVID-19 in Washington. The highest priority for testing is still people with symptoms. If you are ill with any of the following symptoms, please seek testing as soon as possible. Even if you are vaccinated, you should get tested if you become ill with COVID symptoms. Learn more at www.snohd.org/testing.
• Fever or chills
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Muscle or body aches
• New loss of taste or smell
• Sore throat
• Congestion or runny nose
• Nausea or vomiting
The response to COVID-19 has demanded a tremendous amount from our health care system. The role of the healthcare system in this response is diagnosis, treatment, ongoing care, and addressing individual health concerns.
Healthcare and dental providers may ask you to postpone non-urgent visits or procedures. They may also be providing tele-health options (consultations by phone or online).
For people with non-COVID health needs that are urgent, such as signs of stroke or heart attack or serious chronic conditions that require care, they should continue appointments with their medical provider and should not be afraid to seek emergency care at a hospital. Hospitals are taking measures to keep all patients healthy and safe and to prevent spread of COVID-19 to any other patients.
If your symptoms worsen, call your healthcare provider for further instructions. If you are experiencing a life-threatening situation, call 911. If you have a mask, try to put that on before first responders arrive.
Based on our current understanding of this disease, symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, and people are believed to be contagious up to two days before they become ill. Someone who is infected is most likely to spread the illness when they are actively coughing or sneezing.
It is possible for people to spread the illness when they have mild symptoms or no symptoms. It is also possible that an undetected case who self-isolates because they were exposed or are not feeling well could be contagious after their symptoms go away.
Yes. The first vaccine to protect against COVID-19 was authorized for use in the U.S. in December 2020. There are now multiple vaccines available. Information about COVID vaccination is available and updated frequently at www.snohd.org/covidvaccine.
The large majority of people with COVID-19 recover with their own immune response. Treatment is supportive care for symptoms, fluid intake, and isolation/observation. About 10-20% of cases appear to have severe enough disease to require hospitalization. Those patients also receive supportive care and treatment for complications of the infection (pneumonia, problems breathing, etc.). Other treatment options are being studied and implemented as they are available.
If you feel sick with any COVID-19 symptoms (see Question 3 above), immediately self-isolate. Stay home and away from others. Call your health care provider before going to get care and tell them about your symptoms as well as any recent travel or contact with someone who has COVID-19. They can provide you instructions for seeking care so that you do not expose others.
Even if you are vaccinated, you should get tested if you become ill with COVID symptoms. While rare, it is possible for vaccinated individuals to test positive for COVID-19. These are called “breakthrough” cases and you should follow the same advice as unvaccinated people who test positive. Find more info on what to do if you test positive here.
Early intervention with monoclonal antibody therapy can reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people with COVID-19 who are at high risk of developing more serious illness. Monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy is available in Washington state with a provider’s recommendation for certain high risk individuals.
If you think you might qualify, please speak to your healthcare provider first and get a referral before contacting these sites to arrange an appointment. There is limited capacity at certain sites, and it is preferred that individuals contact these facilities over the phone to arrange an appointment time, in order to limit exposure for staff and other patients.
People who have had symptoms for 10 days or less should be referred for treatment by their healthcare providers and directed to available infusion locations.
There is no cost to anyone for the antibodies themselves, but there may be treatment fees. If you do not have insurance, ask the facility if there will be a charge.
To receive Paxlovid or Monulpiravir, individuals with COVID-19 require a prescription from a healthcare provider and a lab-confirmed COVID-19 positive test to start treatment withing 5 days of symptom onset.
Please contact your healthcare provider if you have COVID-19 and would like to receive oral antivirals.
For more information about early treatment options, please go here.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of standard prevention steps for respiratory illness. Continue to practice those. Increase frequency of handwashing, make sure you are cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, and stay home if you are ill. All of these are key for slowing the spread of illness.
As of March 12, 2022, cloth face coverings are no longer required in public indoor locations. They are recommended outdoors in large groups and crowded venues. Private businesses and organizations may still require mask use in their facilities. Maintaining a 6-foot distance between you and other people (social distancing) continues to be helpful, and distance should be maintained even while wearing a mask whenever possible.
Medical providers have specific guidance on masks and personal protective equipment and should follow that guidance.
Please respect the orders and rules put in place to help reduce the spread of illness. We are relying on our community to do the right thing to keep people safe and healthy.
Set up a separate room in the household for someone who is sick and clean the room regularly. Have cloth face covers for members of the household who need to go in public, and for the sick person when they need to go into other areas of the house.
Know your neighbors or friends in the area and be ready to support each other during an emergency. Check in on those who live alone or have underlying health conditions and may need extra support. If you live alone, talk to your friends and family members about who would be available to call or message to check in on you if you become sick.
Through all of this, remember to stay calm, prepared and informed. Check reliable sources for updates and follow the advice of public health professionals.
People who have underlying conditions or are otherwise immunocompromised are at higher risk from this illness, as well as other illnesses like the flu. Avoiding contact with ill people is crucial.
If a household member of someone who is immunocompromised is suspected of having or confirmed to have coronavirus, the CDC instructs healthcare professionals and local public health staff to assess isolation options for the COVID-19 patient outside of the home so that they are not in proximity to the immunocompromised household member.
If you do not have an ill household member but are immunocompromised, talk to your healthcare provider about what steps you should take to protect yourself. Please follow your healthcare provider’s guidance and keep in mind that masks are not the best option for everyone with a vulnerable immune system.
Learn what options your healthcare provider may have for remote consultations, by phone or online. This can help you get your questions answered before going into a clinic, thereby minimizing exposure to this virus as well as other illnesses.
Remember that if your child is showing any symptoms of illness, they should remain home from school, child care and other activities. Whether the symptoms may be COVID, flu or a cold, it is important to take steps to prevent spreading illness to others. Parents who have concerns about health risks should contact their healthcare provider.
Follow guidance from public health staff and your medical provider for staying home and isolating. See general quarantine and isolation timeline guidance here. If your child develops symptoms, contact their medical provider and ask about testing for COVID-19.
If your child is fully vaccinated, they do not have to quarantine for 14 days following an exposure unless they have symptoms.
For school-age children, please be sure to monitor communications from your school and school district regarding plans for the school year as well as health and safety measures the schools have in place.
Schools and child care providers must meet health and safety requirements. A few highlights of the requirements are: excluding sick employees from work; sending sick children home; meeting all CDC recommended cleaning and disinfecting procedures; and ensuring proper hand hygiene and sanitation are readily available to all children and staff. More information for schools and child cares is available at www.snohd.org/533/COVID-19-Info-for-Schools-and-Child-Care.
Plans may vary based on local conditions and considerations for schools and child cares. Child care providers also may make individual decisions to close due to staffing or health issues, or they may need to close or modify their operations if a staff member or child becomes ill with COVID-19.
Coronaviruses like COVID-19 spread primarily among close contacts. They are spread through respiratory droplets when people cough or sneeze, or by touching a surface where the virus has been and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. This is different from an airborne virus like measles, where we would release locations of general exposure.
If a situation arises where we know there was an exposure and we cannot identify the close contacts through disease investigation and contact tracing, public health may issue a notice for people who were at a specific event to quarantine at home and seek testing.
Yes. As with any other situation, people who are ill should stay home and should not go to donate blood. However, people who are well may certainly do so. You can’t catch COVID-19 from donating blood. In fact, to prevent blood supplies running low, we encourage you to donate blood.
Learn more about how to donate blood from Bloodworks Northwest at https://www.bloodworksnw.org/.
Prior to any trip, be sure to check CDC travel notices at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices. The list of countries with travel notices, as well as the level of a country’s notice, may change quickly.
If you are ill, avoid travel. If you are planning trips, be prepared to cancel nonessential travel and monitor alerts as the situation changes.
Visit www.snohd.org/covid, www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Follow us on social media (facebook.com/SnohomishHealth, twitter.com/snohd) A statewide hotline also has been set up at 1-800-525-0127, then press #.