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    Public Health Seattle and King County: Coronavirus 2019-nCov Update
    Posted on 02/25/2020

    Public Health Seattle and King County: Coronavirus 2019-nCov Update

    Update, February 25: The district continues to monitor and be in communication with Public Health of King County and the City of Seattle regarding novel Coronavirus. We will follow their professional guidance. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state the risk is “low” for the general American public. We also ask everyone to be mindful that although novel Coronavirus started in China, having Chinese ancestry – or any other Asian ancestry – does not place a person at higher risk for this illness. You can help keep our schools safe for everyone by sharing accurate information with your children and fellow community members.

    As with the regular flu, if students or staff experience fever, they should stay home from school.

    Please see the Washington State Department of Health's translated fact sheets

    Update, February 3: The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending all travelers from China (including staff, school students, and volunteers) arriving after February 2, 2020 at 2 p.m. stay at home, away from the general population for 14 days.

    This is precautionary and the measure was put into place because of the increasing numbers of 2019-nCOV cases in China. Schools are prepared to work with students who may need to stay home, and absences will be marked as excused.


    There has been a lot of media attention on the spread of coronavirus (2019-nCov). Public Health Seattle and King County has released the following information to school districts.

    At this time, immediate risk to the general public in Washington and the United States is considered low. Information provided by Public Health Seattle and King County also includes tips on how to stay healthy during the flu season. Flu is on the rise and it is important you know how to keep your child and family healthy.

    What is a Coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses have caused more severe illness, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). 2019-nCoV is a new coronavirus that had not been seen in humans before December 2019.

    Who is at Risk for 2019-nCoV?

    At this time, most people are not considered at risk for 2019-nCoV infection and do not need to seek medical evaluation for the virus.

    Who Should Seek Medical Evaluation for 2019-nCoV?

    • Those with a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have traveled from China in the last 14 days OR
    • Those with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing AND have been identified by the Public Health Department as a recent close contact of a confirmed 2019-nCoV case or had recent close contact with someone who is being evaluated for 2019-nCoV infection.

    What Can I do to Prevent a 2019-nCoV Infection?

    The same simple steps that prevent the spread of ordinary flu viruses work against 2019-nCoV and other illnesses.

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    • Cough into a tissue or your elbow (not your hand). Then throw tissue away and wash hands.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick
    • Keep students home if temperature is above 100.0 F (38.7 C) or they report not feeling well, appear weak or ill
    • Consult your health care provider if you or your child has special health conditions that put you at increased risk

    Should people at low risk for 2019-nCoV wear masks? Public Health Seattle and King County are not recommending that people at low risk of 2019-nCoV wear masks in public. Currently, the immediate health risk to the general public in Washington is low and there are questions about the effectiveness of using masks in public to prevent illness. However, some people prefer to wear a mask, and this is a common cultural practice in some parts of the world.

    Where can I Turn for More Information?

    As with any newly emerging infectious disease, knowledge evolves with time. Early on, it is difficult to know the source of the disease, the ways in which it spreads, how effectively it spreads from person to person, and how severe the infection is.

    The Public Health–Seattle and King County coronavirus webpage will be continually updated as more information becomes available.

    Background on Coronavirus

    China is experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The virus is spreading from person-to-person in China, and cases have been detected in a number of countries internationally and the United States, including one case confirmed in Washington on January 21, 2020. The Washington case occurred in a Snohomish County resident who had recently traveled to Wuhan.

    At this time, the immediate risk to the general public in Washington and the United States is considered to be low. While it’s possible that some person-to-person spread with this virus will happen in the United States, 2019-nCoV is NOT spreading in the community here at this time.

    We anticipate that the Washington State Department of Health will put out additional guidance in the coming days. Please check back to the Washington Department of Health coronavirus webpage for more information as it becomes available.