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March 15, 2020

Health & Safety Information

We want to share information and resources about 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, to help you stay informed and healthy.

What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19?

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory virus strain that's spreading in several countries, including the United States.

Confirmed cases have been reported in several Washington communities, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the virus is thought to spread from person to person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes

The CDC also says it may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or possibly your eyes, but that's not thought to be the main way it spreads.

How severe is COVID-19?

Experts are still learning about COVID-19, but reported cases have ranged from mild illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization, according to Public Health Seattle & King County.

So far, deaths have been reported mainly in older adults with underlying health conditions, the agency says.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms, which may appear in two to 14 days after exposure, include: 

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

(According to Public Health Seattle & King County)

Who is at risk for COVID-19?

For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously sick from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low, according to the CDC.

Older adults and people with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes and lung disease, are at risk for more severe illness, the agency says.

How can I protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019 Novel Coronavirus, and the best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent being exposed, according to the CDC.

The agency is recommending the following steps:

  • Clean your hands often. This means washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you've been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Here are some tips from the CDC on when and how to wash your hands:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Stay home while you are sick, except to get medical care, and avoid close contact with others.

  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.

  • Información en Español y Elimine los Gérmenes...Lavese las Manos.

How is COVID-19 treated?

There are no medications specifically approved for coronavirus. Most people with mild cases will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting and taking pain and fever medications. However, some people develop pneumonia and require medical care or hospitalization.

(According to Public Health Seattle & King County)

Is information available in other languages?

Yes, it is. Public Health Seattle & King County has information available in several languages, including Amharic, Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.