Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Cowlitz County announced it’s first case of COVID-19 in a Cowlitz County resident on March 20, 2020. For the latest information on cases in the U.S., visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For the latest information on cases in the state, visit the Washington State Department of Health website. For the latest information on cases in Cowlitz County, visit the Cowlitz County Incident Management webpage.
What is the Health Department doing?
COVID-19 testing is ordered at the discretion of local health care providers. Public Health does not provide COVID-19 testing and does not need to approve testing for COVID-19. Positive test results are immediately notifiable to Cowlitz County Health and Human Services; negative test results are not. Most health care facilities now offer COVID-19 testing. People who are uninsured or do not have a health care provider, can contact the Family Health Center to request testing. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should call their health care provider in advance so the facility can take steps to prevent exposing others. Testing should come at no cost to the patient, whether they have insurance or not.
Cowlitz County Health and Human Services identifies and notifies all close contacts of confirmed cases. Those individuals are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Public Health monitors those individuals for symptoms.
Here is additional guidance for people who have or think they may have COVID-19:
- What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease, COVID-19, (Spanish), (Russian) ,
- What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with COVID-19, (English), (Spanish), (Russian)
- What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been around anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, (English), (Spanish), (Russian)
- Return to Work Guidance for Healthcare Workers (HCWs) and First Responders (FRs) Who Have Confirmed COVID-19 Infection or Are Asymptomatic with High or Medium Risk, Exposures* to a Known Case of COVID-19, (English), (Spanish), (Russian)
- Recommended Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Employees and Visitors, (English), (Spanish), (Russian)
- Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (English)
Safe Start, Stay Healthy
On Sunday, May 31, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a new proclamation, “Safe Start, Stay Healthy”, outlining the state’s phased approach to reopening. The proclamation replaced the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, which expired May 31.
Under the Safe Start Washington plan, businesses and activities will re-open in phases with adequate physical distancing measures and health standards in place. Each phase will be at least three weeks, data and metrics will determine when the state can move from one phase to another.
Visit the governor’s website for industry-specific guidance and safety criteria for businesses listed in each phase of the plan. Per the governor’s order, business activities are not authorized to open until a business is able to meet all safety criteria.
Cowlitz County is in Phase 2
Cowlitz County’s application to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan was approved Saturday, May 23. Businesses approved to reopen in Phase 2 must follow industry-specific guidance issued by the governor. Businesses, nonprofits and workers with questions about the Safe Start policy plan for returning to work, safety guidelines for your business or industry, or financial assistance can submit an inquiry to the state.
Cowlitz County was eligible to apply for phase 3 on June 13, 2020. In order to apply for phase 3, the local health officer must make a written recommendation to the local board of health. The board of health then votes on whether or not to proceed with directing staff to proceed with submitting an application.
Because of an uptick in cases from June 1 to June 14, Cowlitz County’s Health Officer recommended the county pursue a “modified-phase 3” in the state’s reopening plan. The county submitted an application for “Modified-Phase 3” on June 18, however, on June 24, that application was put on “pause” due to increased COVID-19 activity in the county.
As of June 24, the county did not meet the metric for incidence of new cases report during the prior two weeks. That metric is measured by specimen collection date, and to account for the lag in reporting, the two week period starts 6 days prior to the current date. The target is <25 cases per 100,000 people in 14 days. Based on Cowlitz County’s population, our target is 27 cases in 14 days. During the 14 day period June 5 to June 18, Cowlitz County had 62 new cases which is significantly above the target set by the state. When the application was submitted on June 18 for the modified phase 3 the incidence of new cases was 39 cases in 14 days. The knowledge of that number being higher than the target is what prompted the application for a modified-phase, rather than the full phase.
On July 2, the Governor announced a two week pause on any county moving forward in the phases. This will give time to see more about where the numbers are heading and give more time for face covering to take hold. For now Cowlitz County remains in “phase 2” of in the governor’s phased approach for reopening.
Interested in volunteering during disasters and significant events like COVID-19?
Register with the Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers (WAserv) to partner with public health and others who need assistance in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
Everyday practices to prevent colds, influenza and other respiratory illnesses can also protect people against coronaviruses, including COVID-19. The Health Department recommends people take the following actions to keep themselves healthy:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Stay home and away from others when sick
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched
Cloth face coverings
On June 23, Washington state Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced an order that mandates the use of cloth face coverings in most public areas. The order took effect June 26. Frequently asked questions related to Cloth Face Coverings and Masks are available on the Washington State Dept. of Health website.
Gov. Jay Inslee rolled out requirements for the statewide face covering mandate. Starting July 7, businesses will not be able to serve customers or visitors who aren’t wearing face coverings. The measure is intended to counteract the surging levels of COVID-19 statewide as counties have started reopening. Face coverings, when combined with six feet of physical distancing and frequent hand-washing can significantly slow the spread of the virus.
- Washington State Department of Health call center: 1.800.525.0127
- Washington State Department of Health novel coronavirus outbreak webpage
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus disease 2019 website
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for travel webpage
- Washington State Department of Health communities and community organizations resources webpage
- Novel coronavirus fact sheets: English, Spanish, Russian
For parents and caretakers
- Washington State Department of Health resources for parents/caretakers
- Just for Kids: A comic exploring the new coronavirus (NPR)
For schools and child care centers
- Washington State Department of Health school resources webpage
- Washington State Department of Health higher education resources webpage
- Washington State Department of Health child care resources webpage
- Just for Kids: A comic exploring the new coronavirus (NPR)
For businesses and employers
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim guidance for businesses and employers
- Washington State Department of Health workplace and employer recommendations
For health care providers, clinics and hospitals
- Cowlitz County Health Department COVID-19 resources for healthcare providers
- Washington State Department of Health resources for healthcare providers
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for healthcare professionals
- Washington State Department of Health 3/18/2020 COVID-19 Health Alert for Dental Providers
For long term care facilities
- Washington State Department of Health resources for long term care facilities
For emergency medical services
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim guidance for EMS services