Community Transmission of COVID-19

Updated Social Distancing Information

There is more transmission of novel coronavirus in Skagit County than the confirmed case count indicates. Confirmation of cases through laboratory screening is not able to keep pace with ongoing community transmission. As has happened in other counties in Washington State, the virus keeps spreading from person to person as we continue to have close contact with others.

We are asking all Skagit County residents to do what they can to slow the spread of COVID-19, which will mean serious disruption to daily life. Our local businesses and service providers have made big changes to their operations to limit close personal contact. Public Health is asking that everybody do this in their personal lives as well. Although many public activities and events have been suspended, it is important that we postpone or cancel social activities too. With school out and some businesses experiencing temporary closures, this is not a time to expand family visits and social gatherings.

It is critical to minimize the number of people who get seriously ill at the same time. If too many people get sick at once, this will put a high burden on our healthcare system. We must all take action so that healthcare is there when we need it. Remember, a serious illness or injury could happen to any of us at any time.

In alignment with recommendations from the State, the Skagit County Health Officer has released new, additional guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • People at higher risk of severe illness should self-isolate now. This includes physical isolation from non-household family members, including grandchildren.
  • Everyone should limit activity outside the home to essential activities only, like buying groceries and going to work (if you cannot telecommute). Outdoor activities such as walking, running, biking, and hiking are encouraged.
  • The community should postpone all non-essential events and gatherings – both informal and formal. Fundraisers, weddings, lunchroom gatherings, book groups, service clubs, retirement parties, and other social activities are considered non-essential. Contact Skagit County Public Health for guidance at 360-416-1500 if you plan to hold any gathering outside of your immediate household members.
  • Parents should not arrange large playdates, sleepovers, or parties and keep their kids home. Kids should play outside to stay healthy and active.

Additionally, by order of Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Skagit County residents, businesses and organizations must observe the following social distancing requirements:

  • On-site consumption of food or beverage services are temporarily prohibited, except for at childcare services and school-based food programs. Takeout and delivery are allowed.
  • Certain recreation, entertainment, and leisure services are temporarily prohibited. See www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus for more details.
  • All other retail businesses must ensure adequate environmental cleaning of stores and must designate an employee or officer to implement a social distancing plan.
  • All gatherings – informal and formal – over 50 people are prohibited.
  • All gatherings with under 50 participants are prohibited unless certain public health criteria are met.

Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. When you notice shortages of products in the store, this is not because of a disruption to the supply chain, but it is because customers have bought it all. These shortages make it hard for other people in our community to find products when they need them. Maintain a fourteen day food supply, but otherwise, help your neighbors by buying just what you need.

Many workers are impacted by these closures. The Employment Security Department has just adopted a series of emergency rules to help people who are affected by COVID-19. The agency has temporary layoff, isolation and quarantine resources for workers and businesses. Check their website to see what benefits might be helpful to you. The State and Federal government are exploring additional measures for economic relief.

We must support one another. These recommendations create significant economic hardship and will be disruptive to daily life. Consider ways you can support your local businesses, loved ones, yourself, and community during this time of need:

  • Supporting businesses: Consider ordering takeout, delivery, or buying a gift card to a local restaurant or business.
  • Supporting loved ones: Video chat with friends and family or write a letter. If you are young and healthy, offer to assist with childcare. Offer to pick up groceries for a neighbor who can’t leave the house.
  • Supporting yourself: Managing stress is important. If you can, get outside for a walk. Listen to your favorite meditation app, take a class via YouTube, or tour museums virtually. Talk to your household about maintaining a regular routine. Take a break from the news.
  • Supporting community: Blood supplies have hit emergency levels due to coronavirus concerns. Consider donating blood. Reach out to your favorite nonprofit and ask what they need to get through this.

Skagit County will update its website daily, including adding mental health resources. Stay informed at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus 


 

 

Community Transmission of COVID-19

Skagit County Public Health has reviewed information from confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), community calls to Public Health, and the science on this pandemic. From our review we would like Skagit County residents to be aware that community transmission of novel coronavirus is occurring in Skagit County. Confirmation of cases through laboratory screening is not able to keep pace with ongoing community transmission.

Healthcare providers with limited testing capacity need to prioritize testing for people with highest risk. Be advised that COVID-19 testing is for patients exhibiting symptoms only. Our hospital and clinical partners are not testing patients without symptoms at this time. Testing is occurring according to CDC and State guidelines. Many people will have mild to moderate symptoms of novel coronavirus and will not have laboratory confirmation of illness. Symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever of 100.4 degrees or higher and cough.

People with symptoms of novel coronavirus need to isolate themselves at home for at least 7 days or 72 hours (3 days) after fever and other symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. The end of symptoms must be marked from the time after you have stopped fever reducing medication. Having a positive test result does not change that advice. It is essential that all people with symptoms of novel coronavirus follow these isolation recommendations.

Do not go to the hospital or ER for testing unless your symptoms require emergency medical care. We need to assure that our medical system is available to care for people with serious illness, including symptoms such as shortness of breath. People experiencing shortness of breath or other serious symptoms need to seek medical consultation. Call your provider, urgent care, or emergency department first before going in.

Some employers are requesting employees to provide evidence of negative test results for COVID-19 prior to returning to work. Due to limited testing capacity at this time, workers will not be able to obtain negative COVID-19 test results prior to returning to work. Workers who have been ill and completed their isolation period as directed above should no longer be infectious.

To avoid overwhelming our local healthcare system, the Skagit County Health Officer, Dr. Howard Leibrand, urges every person in Skagit County to follow his guidance regarding social distancing:

  • If you are at higher risk of severe illness, stay home. People at higher risk include:
  • People over 60 years of age
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease or diabetes
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant women
  • Postpone non-essential events and gatherings – both formal and informal - of ten or more people.
  • Telecommute whenever possible.

Kids can still socialize while schools are closed but should do so only in small groups of 9 or less, and they should play outside as much as possible. Symptomatic kids need to be isolated and not participate in social activities until their isolation is over.
“Older adults and people in other high risk categories must take this especially seriously,” said Dr. Leibrand. “Even if you are not concerned for your personal safety, this is critical for the safety of the medical system and to ensure the availability of intensive care beds for people with COVID-19 and other life-threatening needs like cardiac arrest and motor vehicle accident trauma.”

Social distancing can make people feel isolated or lonely. Keep your distance physically, but let your loved ones know you love them with a text, a phone call, or video chat. Stay informed at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.