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Many King County facilities are closed to the public, and many services are being offered remotely. Learn more about changes and cancellations.  
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Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus strain spreading here in King County and throughout the world. Most COVID-19 illnesses are mild with fever and cough. Health experts are concerned because this new virus can cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people – especially people over age 60, people with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems, and pregnant people.

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Respiratory droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or may be inhaled into their lungs. It spreads most easily when people are within 6 feet of each other.

COVID-19 also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for up to 72 hours (three days) and on cardboard for up to 24 hours (1 day).

On March 23rd, Governor Inslee announced that he will sign a statewide Stay At Home order. This proclamation Stay Home, Stay Healthy applies throughout Washington and King County. The order will last for two weeks and could be extended. This order includes these provisions:

  • Requires every Washingtonian to stay home unless they need to pursue an essential activity.
  • Bans all gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.
  • Closes all businesses except essential businesses

The proclamation states that people can go outside as long as they remain at least 6 feet from each other. Grocery stores, doctor’s offices and other essential businesses will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike riding, gardening, and dog walking if they follow social distancing rules. Social distancing means increasing the space between people to avoid spreading illness.

Encourage residents and staff to practice social distancing

Social distancing is the most important thing we can do to fight the pandemic.

  • Support staff in practicing social distancing and in following the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
  • Allow telecommuting and encourage the use of flexible leave time wherever possible.
  • Cancel all meetings, gatherings, and other uses of common areas, including community rooms, fitness rooms, pet relief areas, computer labs, and storage rooms.
  • Post information in staff areas, common spaces and entry points about actions you are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Find ideas for signs and downloadable signs on the Public Health website.

Manage visitors

  • Limit access to visitors. Essential visitors include home care workers and others who provide essential services, such as healthcare and emergency maintenance.
  • Encourage residents to connect with family and friends by phone and/or online and to postpone non-essential visits.
  • If possible, limit visitor access to a single point of entry in your building that staff can easily monitor.
  • Post signs at entrances instructing essential visitors to refrain from entering if they are sick or if they have had close contact with a person who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Close contact includes being within 6 feet of a confirmed case for about 10 minutes, or if someone with COVID-19 coughed on you, kissed you, shared utensils with you, or you had contact with their body secretions.
  • Post signs instructing visitors to limit their movement in the building and to not use common areas.

Monitor staff health

  • Screen staff in person or by phone for symptoms of the virus at the start of every day. Anyone with a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath and people at high risk of infection should not come to work. Risk factors include being age 60 and over, having an underlying health condition or a weakened immune system, and being pregnant.

  • Contact Public Health's novel coronavirus call center with questions about symptoms and risk factors: 206-477-3977 (8 AM – 7 PM). The call center is available for all King County residents.

If you have a suspected or confirmed case in the building, do not share personal health information. The identity of a suspected or confirmed case is protected health information and may not be disclosed by staff. It is not necessary to alert residents about possible cases.

Frequently clean and disinfect

  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces in common areas several times each day. This includes doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, railings, and other surfaces that many people touch.
  • Visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) webpage for more information on cleaning methods and products.
  • Make sure garbage cans are readily available for used tissues and paper towels.

Work safely in residential units

  • Limit maintenance work in units as much as feasible. Staff who need to enter a resident's unit should follow basic hygiene principles including:
    • Wash hands or use sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol content) before entering. Wear clean gloves if possible.
    • Keep at least 6 feet of distance from residents.
    • Disinfect all work surfaces before leaving the unit.

Practice social distancing

  • Stay at home in your residential unit and avoid all non-essential contact with others. In particular, avoid contact with people who are sick, and stay home and away from others when you are sick.
  • Limit trips for groceries, gas, and other essentials.
  • If it’s essential to leave your residence, always stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Support and respect decisions about limited use or temporary closure of common areas in your building.
  • Consider creative ways to connect with others from a distance. Use phone calls, conference calls, and online video conferencing for work, meetings, and to stay in touch with friends and family.

Practice good respiratory hygiene

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hand washing facilities are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, then throw out the used tissue.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like drinking glasses, eating utensils, and towels with other people.

Frequently clean high-touch surfaces in your household

  • Frequently disinfect and clean high touch surfaces including phones, keyboards, kitchen countertops, toilets, faucets and doorknobs. Standard cleaning products are effective against COVID-19.

Make a plan

  • Plan how you will meet your essential needs if you become sick.
  • Plan how you might help others in your building if they become sick. For example, you might offer to leave food and other items outside a neighbor’s door or check on them with a daily phone call.
  • Keep a supply of non-perishable food, household items, cleaning supplies and medications on hand so that you can minimize your trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, and other locations.

Individuals who are infected with COVID-19 or think they may be infected should:

Close contacts of an infected person should:

If the identity of a case is known, visitors and staff should not enter the unit.

King County residents can call Public Health's novel coronavirus call center with questions about symptoms and risk factors: 206-477-3977 (8 AM – 7 PM).