Authorities recommend restrictions in the Seattle area, Washington, US, through at least March 31 to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Severity: Warning Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Everett, Washington
  • Olympia, Washington

This alert began 06 Mar 2020 20:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Seattle (map)
  • Time Frame: Through March 31
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions; limited services; event cancellations

Summary
Authorities in the Seattle metropolitan area of Washington have announced numerous recommendations through at least March 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measures follow the more than 70 cases and 13 deaths related to COVID-19, confirmed in King and Snohomish counties, as of March 6. Seattle is the largest city in King County, while Everett is located in Snohomish country.

King County officials have recommended that people over 60 years old, or those with weakened immune systems, underlying health conditions, and women who are pregnant, stay home and avoid large groups of people as much as possible. Authorities have also recommended businesses to allow more telecommuting options and urge employees to stay home if they are feeling sick. Officials are also advising people to avoid large groups of people whenever possible, and recommend the cancellation or postponement of large public events.

Snohomish County and Everett officials have also recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people, as well as the cancellation of public events. They have further canceled numerous county and city-sponsored events through March 31.

Officials at the University of Washington (UW) and Seattle University announced March 6 that all classes and exams will be taken online through at least March 20. This decision impacts more than 57,000 students on the three UW campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, and 5,000 students at Seattle University. The Northshore School District, which includes parts of King and Snohomish counties, closed all schools through at least March 20.

Authorities are likely to change the current recommendations in the coming days, and new guidelines may be set in place by Washington state authorities. While there are no travel restrictions to and from the area, authorities may impose some limitations if the COVID-19 cases increase and spread in the region.

Background and Analysis
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base

US CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers

King County and Seattle Public Health Updates


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