Faq 2

What is COVID-19?

Coron­aviruses are a large family of viruses that usually only cause mild respi­ra­tory disease, like the common cold. Two previ­ously identi­fied coron­aviruses — Middle Eastern Respi­ra­tory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respi­ra­tory Syndrome (SARS) have been more severe. This novel coron­avirus is a new strain of coron­avirus and has been official named COVID-19.

On January 30th, the World Health Organi­za­tion declared Novel Coron­avirus outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of Inter­na­tional Concern. The poten­tial public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, both to the United States and globally. As of March 3rd, 77 countries have reported cases of COVID-19. In the US, 12 states have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Person-to-person commu­nity spread has been confirmed, although asymp­to­matic trans­mis­sion is rare. 

Washington State reported the first case of COVID-19 on January 21st. Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on February 29th, and King County declared a state of emergency on March 2nd. To date, 27 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide, including 9 deaths. Over two hundred people are under public health supervision. 


What are the symptoms of novel coron­avirus and how is it spread?

Symptoms include fever, cough, and short­ness of breath. Senior citizens and people with under­lying health condi­tions or compro­mised immune systems are at increased risk of severe disease. 

COVID-19 is most commonly spread from infected persons to others through the air by coughing or sneezing; close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands and rarely via fecal conta­m­i­na­tion; and touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes before handwashing. 


How is the threat from coron­avirus being monitored?

The Washington State Depart­ment of Health is currently partnering with the Centers for Disease Control, local health districts, and multiple public and private agencies within the state (including WSNA) to keep the public informed. 

A call center has been estab­lished to address questions from the public at 18005250127, press #.

The DOH has set up a separate webpage on their site specif­i­cally dedicated to the Novel Coron­avirus outbreak. Currently, the state is tracking the following infor­ma­tion at the state level. These numbers are updated daily:

  • Number of positive (confirmed) cases
  • Number of deaths
  • Number of people under public health supervision

Addition­ally, the website contains resources for Local Health Juris­dic­tions and Health­care Providers, Infor­ma­tion for School Nurses and Admin­is­tra­tors, and workplace recommendations. 

Several schools have been closed statewide for deep cleaning after close contacts of students or staff were quaran­tined. This is out of an abundance of caution and for the protec­tion of other students and staff.


    What is WSNA doing to assist current efforts?

    WSNA is taking part in the multi-agency public response estab­lished by the DOH. This has included webinars, phone confer­ences, and ongoing infor­ma­tion sharing. Addition­ally, WSNA is responding to the concerns of members working at facil­i­ties with patients who are suspected of or known to have COVID-19. WSNA is working closely with those facil­i­ties and other stake­holder groups to ensure hospi­tals and staff have the resources and training they need to safely care for patients and remain protected. 

    The Depart­ment of Health is consid­ered the primary source for accurate, up-to-date infor­ma­tion. There­fore, WSNA is sharing infor­ma­tion from the DOH on the WSNA website and social media platforms. This infor­ma­tion is reviewed daily and updated as needed. WSNA members with questions or concerns are encour­aged to contact their local Unit Repre­sen­ta­tives, the Public Hotline at 18005250127 press #, and the WSNA and DOH websites. 


    What are the current recom­men­da­tions to protect against novel coron­avirus?

    Current recom­men­da­tions to reduce the risk and spread of novel coron­avirus are the same as for any viral respi­ra­tory infec­tion. These include:

    • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
    • Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands. 
    • Clean and disin­fect objects and surfaces.
    • Stay at home and away from others if feeling ill.
    • Stay current on influenza and pneumonia vaccinations. 

    Masking in public in the absence of respi­ra­tory symptoms is not recom­mended or neces­sary at this time.

    It’s impor­tant to remember not to make assump­tions by discrim­i­nating, spreading misin­for­ma­tion, or harassing individ­uals, families and commu­ni­ties that have made Washington their home. Just because a disease origi­nates within a certain area of the world does not mean that every person who has an associ­a­tion with that country is ill or has the poten­tial to contract COVID-19.


    What additional resources are available?