COVID-19: What Public Health is Doing

Dave Windom, Director of Mason County Community Services and the County’s Coronavirus Incident Commander, released the following information:

Mason County Public Health: is advising community members to take steps to protect their health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

No cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Mason County as of noon on March 11, 2020. Tests sent to labs from Mason County have returned negative results. However, public health officials have confirmed COVID-19 is spreading in Washington State and Mason County residents should be prepared for community spread in our county. This is a rapidly changing situation.

Background
On February 28th, Mason County stood up the Incident Command Team for Corona Virus 19 (COVID-19) to begin the planning phase for the county response. On Monday, March 2, 2020 the team expanded to include but not limited to:

• Public Health
• Mason General Hospital
• Law enforcement
• Emergency Management
• Schools
• County Leadership
• Fire and Emergency Services
• MACECOM

For the remainder of that week the team planned around the assumption that the virus is circulating in the community. Once the team completed the majority of the planning goals, the response was scaled back to public health and the Joint Information Center since the majority of the response items were informational in nature. The website was updated with the latest information links from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Washington Department of Health (DOH).

For the week of March 9th, the team has focused on in-person outreach to our most vulnerable populations such as nursing homes, senior centers, and shelters for the homeless. Public Health has worked with the courts to ensure that court activities could continue. Mason County Public Health trained an additional 15 employees in contact investigation to bolster our ability to track contacts should we get confirmation of a positive case.

Today
Public Health continues to monitor the COVID-19 response locally and statewide. A tremendous amount of information is pouring into the operations center which is sorted and sent to community partners through the Joint Information Center. Much of the information coming from the state and the CDC changes rapidly. Governor Inslee published an executive order banning gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. This does not apply to Mason County at this point.

Going Forward
Public Health continues to monitor the situation and maintains contact with epidemiologists at DOH. We continue to plan for a community wide response to COVID-19 to include planning for alternate quarantine or isolation for those who might be unable to quarantine at home. We will continue to post the latest information on our website and Facebook.

STEPS TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

Everyone should take simple steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

• Wash your hands frequently
• Avoid touching your face
• Cough and sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue, then throw away the tissue
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick
• Stay home when you or a family member is sick
• Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces

People with mild symptoms should stay home and rest. People who are severely ill or at high risk for severe illness should stay home and call their health care provider.

Public health officials do not recommend healthy people wear masks to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. People who are sick should wear masks when they are seeking medical care. It is important that supplies of masks and other personal protective equipment remain available for health care providers who are evaluating and treating ill people.

PLANNING FOR COVID-19 SPREAD

Public health officials believe COVID-19 will continue to spread in Washington. Mason County residents should make plans in case additional prevention strategies are recommended. Mason County Public Health recommends people have a plan for how they would adjust their work and home routines to accommodate these changes. Find additional guidance at doh.wa.gov/coronavirus.

COVID-19 UPDATES AND RESOURCES: The following websites are the best sources for COVID-19 updates and resources: doh.wa.gov/coronavirus, cdc.gov/coronavirus, https://www.co.mason.wa.us/health/index.php

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