Preparing now to reduce impact of novel coronavirus

Dear employee,

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread to more countries, the likelihood that eventually there will be more cases in the United States increases. King County is getting prepared now in order to reduce the number of illnesses and negative effects that could occur in our community.

Department leaders are working with the Executive’s Senior Leadership Team and the Office of Emergency Management now on response planning – short term and long term – in line with our Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP).

Every one of us have an important role to play in helping to prevent colds, flu, and other infections from spreading. Good health manners include:

  • Stay home when you are sick. Staying home when ill prevents the spread of infections to others.
  • Use good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene in all community settings, including homes, childcare facilities, schools, workplaces, and other places where people gather. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and put the used tissue in a waste basket. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60-95% alcohol).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth: Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

If you or your household members have a chronic condition and regularly take prescription drugs, talk to your health care provider, pharmacist, and insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply of medications at home. If you have young children or other dependents, think about who can care for them if you become ill.

Public Health is working to provide accurate information to the community to keep rumors and misinformation from spreading, and has launched resources to help address possible stigmatization or discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality, or immigration status. You can find the latest information on the Public Health website and Public Health Insider blog, as well as at the CDC and the Washington state Department of Health, and learn more about pandemic preparedness here.