Public Health provides updates on testing, guidance for child cares, emergency precautions at correctional facilities, and isolation and quarantine facilities. There are 58 new cases that are being announced today, bringing the confirmed case count total in King County to 328. In addition, five new deaths are reported, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths to 32.
Demand for testing continues to outpace ability for the healthcare system to address the need. Tests for COVID-19 are ordered by health care providers. Someone with symptoms who is concerned can call their primary care provider, who will evaluate their symptoms. If the health care provider determines testing is warranted, they may collect a specimen and send it to a lab.
We are not aware of any capacity limitations for specimen processing at this time. However, there is a shortage of clinical sites where patients can get tested.
While many people want testing, not everyone who is sick needs testing, particularly if you have mild illness. If people aren't severely ill, they should follow the guidance for self-care. They should stay home, stay away from others, and self-isolate. They do not need to be tested if they have mild illness, as the test results will not change how their illness would be treated. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
Guidance for Childcares During School Closures
School closures have been ordered by the state. At this time, this order does not include childcare and early learning programs. Childcare and early learning serve an incredibly important function, and provides essential support for families of doctors, nurses and first responders, allowing them to continue providing critical medical and emergency services.
Childcare spaces are also typically smaller than schools which mean lower exposure and transmission risk. The evidence seems to show that the risk to young children is low, so we believe childcare and early learning programs pose less of a risk to children. Protecting vulnerable staff and students is a priority and we strongly recommend excluding staff and children who are in high risk and vulnerable categories.
Guidelines for Gatherings of Youth While Schools Are Closed
Social interaction is still vitally important to the mental health of young people, and it is still possible for families to have safe gatherings among children and parents. Limit indoor groups to 10 or fewer children and outdoor groups to 50 or fewer. Monitor kids for a fever over 100.4 degrees, coughing, or shortness of breath, and select activities that minimize physical contact. Avoid crowded places, like parties, retail spaces, and movie theaters.
For more detailed information about school closures, childcare, and guidelines for gatherings of children, was well as other details about King County's COVID-19 response, please visit www.kingcounty.gov/covid
Emergency precautions at correctional facilities
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any of King County's three correctional facilities, though given that this is now an epidemic, the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention is taking emergency precautions to ensure the health and safety all of inmates, visitors, and staff.
Here are a few of the emergency precautions:
- The staff will transfer about 45 inmate-patients who are at a higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 – 60 or older with underlying health conditions – but are not symptomatic to a housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent to reduce exposure to the larger population.
- To promote social distancing as directed by the Public Health Officer, public visitation at both adult correctional facilities is cancelled. Visitors are encouraged to use video visitation at adult correctional facilities instead of visiting in person. Video visits will be available at no cost to users. Family members can still visit the Children and Family Justice Center.
- Group activities are cancelled. The staff are exploring options to continue access to programs, such as education and religious services, that still promote social distancing. In the meantime, staff will offer increased access to other existing recreational programs and activities, including cards, games, books, movies and recreation yard as appropriate.
- Each person who arrives at correctional facilities now receives a health screening by a registered nurse as part of the booking-intake process.
Updates on correctional facility emergency precautions will be posted at www.kingcounty.gov/dajd.
Isolation and quarantine update
As King County's response to COVID-19 evolves and to address community concerns, King County will continue to provide temporary housing for people who cannot self-isolate or quarantine in their own home, but will use the Kent isolation and quarantine location for people who do not need onsite behavioral health or medical services.
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 do not have a separate bedroom in their home away from a family member who is elderly or medically fragile, students in congregate dormitory settings, or people experiencing homelessness. Individuals can only be placed into these sites after a health professional with Public Health - Seattle & King County has determined that they need isolation or quarantine.
No one is currently staying at the Kent Central Avenue motel location.
The number of persons in King County's isolation and quarantine sites will be included in regular updates provided by Public Health - Seattle & King County. No other identifying or personal information will be provided.
COVID-19 is spreading in King County, with hundreds of cases reported to date. We expect the case count to double every 5-7 days. A key Public Health goal is to minimize the number of people who get seriously ill at the same time, so that those who are at risk for severe illness are able to get the care they need. If too many people get very sick all at once, this will put an unmanageable burden on our health care system. If that happens, people requiring care may not be able to get it when they need it. Every King County resident has a responsibility to each other to make sure our community collectively lessens the impact of this disease.
Anyone who is sick should stay home. Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19, as well as their close contacts, should follow Public Health guidance addressing what to do if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 or are worried that you do. Retail establishments should follow guidance for retail businesses and service operators. People who are having a medical emergency should call 9-1-1.
Public Health has many COVID-19 resources for the general public, the business community, workplaces and employers, travelers, healthcare professionals and links to information at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington state Department of Health. See our website with additional information available on the Public Health Insider.
Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/12/20
- 328 confirmed cases (up 58 from yesterday)
- 32 confirmed deaths (up 5 from yesterday)
Deaths being reported today include:
- A woman in her 90s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died on 3/6
- A woman in her 90s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died on 3/6
- A woman in her 80s, a resident of Life Care Center, who died on 3/4
- A man in his 70s, who died at Overlake Medical Center on 3/9
- A man in his 80s, who died at Swedish Issaquah on 3/11
Of the 32 deaths reported, 25 are associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland.