The following was written by Stephanie Dunkel for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department blog, Your Reliable Source:
Your exposure risk to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Washington remains low. The amount of national and internal news coverage on the unprecedented global response to the outbreak may make it hard to keep the low risk here in perspective.
WHAT IS MY RISK OF COVID-19?
Your risk of contracting 2019 novel coronavirus very low. Pierce County still has no novel coronavirus cases.
Our state has had only one confirmed case of the disease—a man in Snohomish County. He is out of the hospital and recovering.
Limits on travel and health screenings for people who visited mainland China—where the outbreak originated—keep the risk of infection here very low. These measures were part of the Jan. 31 presidential order.
WHAT IS PUBLIC HEALTH DOING TO RESPOND TO COVID-19?
Since Jan. 24, more than 42 staff have been working 24/7 on a special response team to keep the risk low. This is your public health system working. We take these steps to protect people’s health, and our community can be confident in this public health safety net.
In response to the first U.S. case of novel coronavirus, we quickly began working to:
- Coordinate with our partners in other local health jurisdictions, Washington Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control to ensure the public health safety net protects our community.
- Work with our healthcare partners to provide up-to-date guidance for screening patients.
- Plan and prepare for public health prevention strategies if we see disease spread.
- Keep the public informed with timely and accurate information.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are working with Pierce County residents who have recently traveled from mainland China. Our guidance asks them to self-monitor and stay home from work, school, and social gatherings. They are not sick. We provide them with a line of communication if they have any changes in their health.
The monitoring period lasts 14 days—the incubation period for the disease. This is a proactive public health intervention to prevent the potential spread of disease. Once they complete the monitoring period without symptoms, they can return to their normal activities. If someone in self-monitoring develops symptoms, we will act quickly to get a healthcare provider to evaluate the person and get them tested.
While the risk of novel coronavirus remains low, the flu is cause for concern in Pierce County. We have 12 reported deaths and hundreds of people have gone to the hospital. It’s not too late to get a flu shot, your best protection against the flu. To prevent the spread of disease, also remember to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
The novel coronavirus may be new. Our preparations and response are not. This is the work public health does day in and day out to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County.
Learn more about novel coronavirus at www.tpchd.org/coronavirus.