Along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), here is what residents of our county need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19).  At this time, we feel our environmental risk of exposure in our county is low.

What is coronavirus disease?  Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.  The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.  Patients with COVID-19 have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Are there cases of COVID-19 in the United States?  Yes.  The first case of COVID-19 was reported on January 21, 2020.  As of March 2, there are 43 cases in the United States.

How does COVID-19 spread?  At this time it is unclear how easily or sustainably the virus spreads from person to person, but the general recommendation would be to follow to same precautionary measures you would use to prevent flu virus infection.

What are severe complications from this virus?  Some patients can develop pneumonia in both lungs.

How can I protect myself?  The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.  There are simple, everyday measures that can be taken to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.  These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I recently traveled to China and got sick?  If you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care.  Call the office of your healthcare provider before you go, and tell them about your travel and your symptoms.  They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness.  While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out, and delay any further travel to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to others.

Is there a vaccine?  There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19.  The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Is there a treatment?  There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19.  People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.  Please call your healthcare provider and await instructions for how/when you will be seen, rather than going into the office before a diagnosis.

For more information, please visit the Washington Department of Health and the Centers For Disease Control (CDC).