As more coronavirus cases are reported in our state, it’s important to make sure you’re getting your information from the most trustworthy sources. Below is information from the Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County.
These illnesses are most severe in elderly and immune compromised populations. Health officials are working as rapidly as possible to identify those in the community who have been exposed, isolate them and get them tested.
What You Can Do
First of all, if someone you know has a fever and respiratory distress, they should call their doctor – not go to the clinic or hospital. A doctor will make an assessment about next steps. If it requires a coronavirus test, the doctor will contact King County Public Health to arrange a test. There are no public testing sites.
If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus but don’t have a doctor to call, you can contact the King County novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977.
Symptoms to watch for:
- Shortness of breath
The best preparations are to prevent infection with simple yet effective actions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. (Singing happy birthday twice takes about 20 seconds.)
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow, sleeve or tissue. (I know it’s hard but try not to use your hands.)
- Bump elbows with friends rather than hugs or handshakes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops, and kitchen areas when food is prepared.
- Use hand sanitizers when unable to wash your hands.
The Washington State Department of Health has also established a call center to address questions. Given the large call volume, it is best to research general questions online if you have access to a computer. Call if you need advice about what to do if you have symptoms. You can call 1-800-525-0127.
If you develop a fever or respiratory distress, stay home and call for help from your doctor or the King County call center at 206-477-3977.
What is Happening in Washington
We are fortunate in Washington to have expert public health officials and scientists who have experience in responding to pandemics. We can all help by staying informed and following their recommendations.
This is a very quickly moving situation and information is changing constantly. You can stay informed at these pages:
- Public Health – Seattle & King County Facebook
- Public Health – Seattle & King County Twitter
- Washington Department of Health Facebook
- Washington Department of Health Twitter
You can find information about how the situation affects school closures here.
What We Are Doing in Olympia
The Senate passed an operating budget last week that dramatically increased funding for coronavirus response with an additional $10 million for public health.
Much more funding is on the way, given the rapidly evolving situation. New legislation was introduced Monday morning by Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Schmick to transfer $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the state Department of Health and Department of Social and Health Services.
The bill has passed the House and we will be acting on it in the Senate today. It authorizes a funding transfer of $100 million into the state disaster response account specifically for coronavirus response. It also allows DSHS to increase nursing facility payments as the department hires more nurses. We will also provide funding to free up more beds in our acute care hospitals for coronavirus patients.
We are near the end of our 2020 session, but if this outbreak turns into a full-blown pandemic, we may be called back into special session to provide additional emergency funding for more services.
Finally, if you are unable to find the help you need from medical providers, the King County public health department or the Washington state Department of Health, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. We will do everything we can to help.
Senator Karen Keiser
Chair, Senate Labor and Commerce Committee
Senate President Pro Tempore