Common questions for King County employees
As we continue our efforts to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in King County, we have put together a list of answers to common questions for King County employees about our operations during this outbreak. This guidance applies to Executive Branch employees; employees in separately elected agencies will receive guidance from their leaders.
Remember that coronavirus does not recognize race, nationality, or ethnicity. Ancestry does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness. Please keep this in mind when interacting with your fellow employees and the public.
Stay home - Stay healthy
On March 23, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a Stay Home — Stay Healthy order which will be effective for a minimum of two weeks. The order requires every Washingtonian to stay at home, except for people:
- Pursuing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries or going to a medical appointment. What’s opened and closed
- Getting takeout food. (Food deliveries also are permitted).
- Going to work at an essential business.
- Going outside for walks and exercise, as long as they keep 6 feet apart.
- What does it mean to stay home?
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) employee FAQ
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay at home when sick.
- Cover cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces with regular household cleaning spray.
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Be symptom free for 72 hours before returning to work.
For additional information, see Public Health’s website.
People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus:
- Difficulty breathing
People at higher risk include:
- People 60 and older
- People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
- People who have weakened immune systems
- People who are pregnant.
Public Health direction says people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. If this applies to you, please consider contacting your supervisor, Division Director, or your department’s HR Manager (employee only) if you have a concern so changes can be considered. Let your supervisor know if you have concerns about your paid leave balances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a list of high risk areas at the CDC website.
If an employee returns from a Level 3 area (as designated by the CDC), the employee should inform their HR Manager and stay home for 14 days from the time the employee left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel Health Notice countries) and practice social distancing. The employee may telecommute if feasible, or use accrued or donated paid leave during their absence. If the employee does not have any leave to use, the employee should discuss the matter with their department’s human resources staff.
Please stay home if you are sick, and let your supervisor know if you have concerns about your paid leave balances.
You can telework, if appropriate in your role, or use accrued or donated leave.
An employee may use sick leave if “an employee’s child’s school is closed by order of a public official for health-related reasons or place of care is closed by order of a public official for a health-related reason.” This also applies to the closing of private schools. The employee may telecommute if feasible, or use accrued or donated paid leave during their absence. If the employee does not have any leave to use, the employee should discuss the matter with their department’s human resources staff.
Employees whose work can be performed through telecommuting should do so, with the approval of their supervisors. Please find telecommute resources here and submit a signed telecommute agreement to your supervisor. You can find the telecommuting policy here, and get KCIT guidance here on the necessary technology tools (SharePoint). Please ensure you are available and responsive when telecommuting.
Not all employees can telecommute in their work, and we are committed to keeping our employees safe and healthy, and will continue to follow guidance from Public Health to do so.
The Executive has directed that we postpone or cancel all non-essential King County meetings or events through March 2020. Please work with your department leadership and use good judgment about which public meetings or events are essential and limit the number of people present where possible. Consider conducting essential and non-essential meetings or events using Skype or teleconference where practical. If departments would like guidance about particular meetings or events, please elevate those concerns for advice and decisions. Events should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Before cancelling or postponing a public facing meeting, make sure you’ve coordinated with division and department leadership.
Public Health does not currently recommend that people wear masks when they are in public. Scientists are not sure whether wearing a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick. However, people who are sick should wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze.
As a general rule, employees will not be required to wear face masks. If an employee wants to wear their own face mask, they should be allowed to do so unless it is inconsistent with their job duties.
Misinformation about coronavirus can create fear and hostility that hurts people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. We’re stronger as a community when we stand together against discrimination. Take advantage of these resources to prevent, interrupt, and respond to stigma. Find out how.
This guidance applies to King County Executive Branch employees. Employees in separately elected agencies are advised to confirm policy questions with their human resources staff and leadership. Separately elected agencies are: Department of Assessments, Department of Judicial Administration, District Court, King County Council, King County Elections, King County Sheriff’s Office, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Superior Court.
- If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you're a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact our novel coronavirus call center: 206-477-3977.
- The call center will be open daily from 8 AM to 7 PM PST.
- For general questions about COVID-19 or Washington State's response, please call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127.
- If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your healthcare provider. Isolate yourself and wear a mask before leaving the house. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.