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Update: King County COVID-19 case numbers for March 9, 2020 and information about testing

Summary

With a number of viral respiratory germs circulating right now, Public Health – Seattle & King County urges King County residents to take precautions if they are ill, but not to assume it is COVID-19. Public Health is reporting 33 new cases today. The official case count total in King County is now 116. In addition, three new deaths are reported, bringing the total deaths to 20.

Story

There are a number of viral respiratory germs circulating in King County right now, including seasonal influenza. We understand the desire of people who are currently sick to be tested for COVID-19, along with those who fear they may be infected with COVID-19 but are currently asymptomatic.

However, not everybody who feels ill needs to be tested, particularly if you have mild illness. Healthcare providers determine who should be tested, based on specific symptoms. While testing is becoming more available, there are still limitations in the ability to quickly collect and process tests.

For now, if you have mild symptoms (cough, fever), you need to stay home and stay away from people.

Public Health – Seattle & King County continues to prioritize our attention where the need is the greatest including addressing urgent issues at Life Care, other long-term care facilities and congregate settings with highly vulnerable people.

Who should get tested?

If you are sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath and are in a high risk group, call your healthcare provider to discuss whether you should be tested for COVID-19.

  • People at high risk for complications from COVID-19 are:
  • People older than 60 years
  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant people

Other people with mild illness who are concerned about their health can call their healthcare provider to discuss COVID-19 testing and other possible reasons for their illness.

What has changed about testing availability?

While testing is becoming more available, there are limitations in providers' capacity to obtain samples and process lab results rapidly. If you have symptoms and are high risk, we encourage you to call your health care provider and have a conversation with them about whether it makes sense for you to get tested for COVID-19. Your provider will determine whether testing is recommended.

Where can I get tested?

Public Health – Seattle & King County does not typically conduct testing. Testing is typically conducted by taking a swab at a health care provider's office. Call ahead before visiting your healthcare provider.

What those at higher risk should know and do:

As this novel coronavirus gains a foothold in our community, it's essential that people who are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 know what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.

  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies. Create a household plan of action (see CDC's home plan checklist).
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid crowds and other congregate settings.
    • Try to avoid being in large groups of people, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Clean your hands often.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs.
    • Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions.
  • Pay attention for potential symptoms.
    • COVID-19 symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

If you develop symptoms:

  • Call your healthcare provider and inform them about your symptoms. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider about whether to go to your doctor to get tested or to remain at home.
  • As much as possible remain separate from other family members, especially those who are older or have underlying health conditions.
  • Know when to get emergency help
    • Get medical attention immediately if you have shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion or dizziness, or persistent vomiting, or if you start to improve but suddenly begin to feel worse.

Case updates

Thirty-three new cases of COVID-19 have been reported to Public Health – Seattle & King County through 11:59 p.m. on 3/8/20, bringing the total number of reported King County cases to 116.

Of the 33 new cases reported today, two are deaths. In addition, one person who was previously reported as a positive case has now died. The total number of deaths reported to Public Health is now 20. The three deaths being reported today include:

  • A woman in her 80s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, and died on 3/4/20. (This case is included in the 33 new cases reported today.)
  • A woman in her 90s, a Life Care Center resident, was hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center, and died on 3/8/20. (This case is included in the 33 new cases reported today.)
  • A woman in her 70s, a Life Care Center resident, who was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth, and who died on 3/8/20 (This case was previously reported as a positive case on 3/4/20, in an earlier case count.)

Of the 20 deaths reported, 19 are associated with Life Care Center.

Update regarding Life Care Center of Kirkland

Public Health is working with partners to coordinate testing of all Life Care Center employees. The testing is in partnership with the University of Washington. Priority will go to employees who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Testing is recommended only for people who are symptomatic for the disease.

Life Care Center reports that it has completed testing all of its remaining residents and is awaiting test results.