Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

COVID 19

What is the Health Department doing?

Cowlitz County announced it’s first case of COVID-19 in a Cowlitz County resident on March 20, 2020.  The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management has set-up a local COVID-19 information Line (toll free) at 1-888-683-8676.

Case Counts as of 4/6/2020, 12:00 pm
Number of lab confirmed positive cases    21

 *Numbers will be updated when information is released by the Incident Management Team, Public Information Officer 

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. 

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.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Supplies to test people for COVID-19 are limited. For this reason, health care providers have to prioritize who receives testing. Not everyone with symptoms will be tested.

If you have mild symptoms, stay home and away from others until 72 hours after the fever is gone and other symptoms improve. If your symptoms worsen and you need to seek medical care, call in advance so your provider can make a plan to see you without potentially exposing others. Your health care provider will determine whether you need to be tested.

If you develop symptoms and have a condition that may increase your risk for serious illness -- age 60 years or older or have medical conditions -- contact your health care provider. Your provider may want to monitor your health more closely or test you for COVID-19.

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, (English)(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)

ACTIONS BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

The situation in the State of Washington has been rapidly changing. The public should continue to watch for official statements from Governor Jay Inslee regarding protections against COVID-19.  Cowlitz County Health & Human Services will  share information as it becomes available on its Facebook page and website. 

Information on "Essential  Business" can be found on the Washington State Coronavirus Response web page.  Washington State has an online form where businesses can get clarification or submit a request for inclusion as essential under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation.  There is also has a Washington State online form to report businesses that are not following the proclamation. 

More information can be found on the governor’s website.

The Cowlitz County Incident Management Team has set-up a local COVID-19 information Line (toll free) at 1-888-683-8676.  In addition, there is a Cowlitz County online form to submit a “COVID-19 Enforcement Inquiry".  

The Cowlitz County Incident Management Team is accepting donations of new and unopened masks and other supplies.  Anyone interested in donating can call 360-577-3171.  At the present time the Cowlitz County Incident management team is not accepting donations of homemade medical masks, etc.  Please direct questions regarding donations and volunteers to the state at covidhelp@mil.wa.gov.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19? 

COVID 19 QuestionsCowltiz COVID Info LineCovid FAQ Opens in new windowCOVID Enforcement Inquiry Opens in new window

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

Should I wear a mask or cloth face covering?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Washington State Department of Health now recommend wearing cloth face coverings, such as homemade fabric masks, in public settings where individuals cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from others (such as grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Staying home except for essential trips and ensuring you remain at least 6 feet away from others when in public are the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19. But non-medical masks may be used to supplement those efforts.

Here are two things to consider before deciding whether to wear a mask:

  • Medical masks should be reserved for health care workers. There has been a shortage of medical masks; it is important health care workers have the equipment they need to safely do their jobs.
  • Homemade fabric masks, and other non-medical masks, are not a replacement for staying home and limiting contact with others. Masks also do not replace the need to frequently wash hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands and stay away from people who are sick. These remain the best ways to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

When a person who is already infected with the virus (even if they don’t have symptoms) wears a fabric mask, it may help prevent the spread of infection to others. The mask can block droplets from spreading when the person coughs, sneezes or, to a lesser degree, speaks.

It’s unknown how much protection homemade fabric masks provide to the person wearing the mask. The amount of protection may depend on the quality of the mask and how well it fits. This is why fabric masks should not be considered reliable protection, but they may provide some benefit.

To be effective, masks should be worn consistently. Be sure to wash hands before putting on a fabric mask and after taking it off, and be careful not to touch your face with unwashed hands if adjusting the mask. Fabric masks should be changed when moist and washed after use. Masks that are worn may be contaminated.”

How can I plan ahead for COVID-19?

  • Make an emergency plan of action with your household members, relatives, and friends. Visit Emergency Preparedness and You (on the CDC website) for more information.
  • If the disease starts spreading in our area, we might recommend to close schools or cancel events and encourage people to work remotely to slow the spread of the disease.
  • Make plans for alternative arrangements for your child or yourself in the case of a school dismissal or shutdown. Also make plans for your elders and your pets, as needed.
  • Check in with your work about your sick leave and telework options, should you need to stay home to care for a household member.
  • Make a list of your emergency contacts — family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, health care providers, teachers, employers, local public health department, and community resources.
  • Gather extra supplies, such as soap, tissues, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you or one of your household members have a chronic condition and regularly take prescription drugs, talk to your health provider, pharmacist, and insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply of medications at home.

Additional resources

  • 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

For schools and child care centers

For businesses and employers

For health care providers, clinics and hospitals

For long term care facilities

For emergency medical services