COVID-19 Article Library

Cut and paste articles or excerpts for use in your newsletters, websites or other outreach materials. We will update this as new articles are completed.

Revised: 11-10-20

WHAT TO KNOW

WHAT TO DO

STAY AT HOME

STAY HEALTHY

SPREAD THE FACTS

WHAT TO KNOW


What is COVID-19 and the Novel Coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new, or “novel” coronavirus that was not identified in humans before December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold.

This virus mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that come from the nose and mouth when and infected person coughs or sneezes. The most common symptoms are fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Most people will recover on their own, but some people can develop more serious complications, such as pneumonia, and require medical care or hospitalization. People who are at high risk for severe illness from this disease are those who are older, people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, people with serious underlying medical conditions and those who are pregnant. However, anyone can get COVID-19 and your risk is not connected to race, ethnicity or nationality.

The best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick by staying home and staying 6 feet away from others when you are doing essential errands like getting groceries.

Spread the facts: Download fact sheets about COVID-19 available in multiple languages. You can also visit the Department of Health’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Is there illness in our community?

Yes, COVID-19 is spreading throughout Washington. The number of cases and deaths in your county is updated regularly on this map. Your local health department may also have additional information about your community on their website.

Spread the facts: Not all respiratory illnesses are COVID-19. Learn more about what to do if you are sick, but haven’t been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This information is available in 15 languages. 

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


How can I stay informed?

It is important to stay updated and informed on COVID-19 to avoid miscommunication or inaccurate information. Misinformation can create fear and hostility that hurts people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. Here are some credible resources you can depend on for accurate health information on COVID-19:

Spread the facts: It is also important to set limits on how much time you spend reading about COVID-19 and that you take some time to focus on other parts of your life. Taking in a constant stream of alarming news can raise your stress and anxiety. Learn more about coping with stress during an infectious disease outbreak.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.

WHAT TO DO

STAY HOME


What does it mean to stay home?

Staying home means only going out to do essential activities, like shopping for groceries, getting prescriptions or going to work in an essential business. If you have a medical appointment scheduled, your health care provider will let you know if needs to be rescheduled or if you can do the appointment over the phone. The Washington State Department of Health is recommending that routine vaccinations should continue, especially for infants and young children. 

You can still get takeout and have food delivered. You can also still go outside for fresh air, sun and exercise. When you go out, carry hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes to use, stay at least six feet away from others, cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and wash your hands when you get home. It’s also a good idea to also clean off any items you bring home with you before you use them. There is no need to disinfect your groceries.

Spread the facts: Learn more about what it means to stay home. This information is available in five languages. 

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


How to cope while staying at home

Staying home can make you feel isolated and alone. Human interaction is huge part of maintaining mental health. Keep in touch with your family and friends through phone and video calls, emails and letters. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media. Though it’s crucial to stay home, it’s also crucial to get outside. Refresh yourself with fresh air, either by yourself or with those you live with. Try gardening, nature walks, or listening to an audio book in the sunshine – just allow six feet of space for others and avoid crowds.  Take care of your emotional health and find the strategies and resources that work best for you.

Spread the facts: Stress, anxiety and depression-like symptoms are common reactions during this time. People with preexisting mental health conditions may experience these symptoms more intensely. If you or someone you know is in distress because of COVID-19, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at any time, on any day at 1-800-985-5990. This helpline is multilingual, toll-free and confidential.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Keeping your home safe: medications

It’s more important than ever to safely store and dispose of your medications. Help prevent medication misuse by safely storing your prescription medications in a locking bag, safe or locking cabinet. Dispose of unused or expired prescription medications at a Take Back program. Talk to your doctor about alternative pain management options. 

Spread the facts: For more tips on how to safely store and dispose of medications, visit GetTheFactsRx.com and watch this video.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Keeping your home safe: guns

With everyone staying home, it’s more important than ever to make sure firearms are stored safely.  It’s also important to talk with your children about guns and tell them to never touch one and to immediately tell an adult if they ever find one. 

Ensure that guns in your home are always stored where they are inaccessible to children or anyone unauthorized to use them.  Key guidelines include:

  • Guns should always be stored unloaded in a locked case, cabinet or safe that is inaccessible to children
  • Ammunition should be stored in a separate place from the guns that is locked and inaccessible to children
  • Gun locking devices can be used in addition to locked storage

Spread the facts:  for more information about safely storing firearms visit this Lock It Up page.  This Public Health Insider article has more information and tips for gun owners.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


How to help your neighbor

Our social distancing measures are making a difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s important that we continue following the Governor’s Stay at Home, Stay Healthy order to decrease non-essential close contact with others. It’s difficult but it’s saving lives.

Here are some things you can do to help both your community and your neighbors while also staying home:

  • Check-in with your neighbors every few days to make sure they are doing all right. You can talk with them from the sidewalk or front porch just make sure you stay least six feet away.
  • If you are concerned about your neighbor’s level of distress, have them call the Disaster Distress Helpline (open 24/7, 365 days a year): 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • Share information like the new guidance on wearing masks, information on keeping your home healthy, the availability of supplies in your community or food and housing support. You can offer to partner on grocery deliveries or to pick up things your neighbors need when you go to the store. 
  • Set up a neighborhood group text to share information or plan things that help everyone feel connected and positive. You could invite everyone to participate in an 8 p.m. tribute to healthcare workers or plan a time to sing “happy birthday” to a neighbor.
  • Share information about how to help in your community.

Spread the facts: Lots of experts are working to determine when and how we can end the social distancing measures. This interview with the King County Health Officer describes it and the dangers of ending it too soon.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Protect yourself from phone or online scams

Scams have increased with the threat of coronavirus. Some people are taking advantage of this uncertain time to scam others. The best protection is to know what to look for. Warning signs that the phone call or email is a scam:

  • Being asked for personal banking information. If you are contacted by someone who asks for your bank account number, do not give it to them.
  • Unrecognizable numbers. Robocall scams are best avoided by not answering your phone if you do not recognize the phone number.
  • Claims that you’ve won money or qualify for financial assistance. These are most likely a phishing emails or calls. Do not provide personal information.

Spread the facts: Learn how to spot and avoid scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is helping consumers spot scams when it comes to the coronavirus. The FTC updates their blog with current scams to be aware of. If you believe you have been the victim of a coronavirus, or any, scam, file a complaint.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.

STAY HEALTHY

Guidance on wearing cloth face coverings/masks 

COVID-19 is spreading in Washington State. People with COVID-19 can spread the virus even when they don’t have symptoms or know that they are sick.

The Washington State Department of Health requires you to wear a cloth face covering in public when you cannot stay six feet (or two meters) away from others. You must wear a face covering in indoor public settings like the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, health clinic, and other locations. You should also wear a face covering outside if you cannot keep six feet (or two meters) away from other people at all times.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that you wear a cloth face covering. Face coverings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. When you wear a face covering, you help protect others around.

For more information, visit coronavirus.wa.gov/masks


If you or a household member gets sick   

This is a scary time to feel sick. While not all illnesses are COVID-19, it is important to protect yourself and others. If you are ill with fever and a cough or shortness of breath, stay home and keep yourself separated from other people and animals in the house. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands with soap and water a lot. If you are 60 and older, have another medical condition, are pregnant or you are concerned and don’t know how to care for yourself– call your health care provider.

Spread the facts: Learn how to care for yourself and protect others if you feel sick and:

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Caring for pets

There is no evidence that pets are affected by COVID-19 or that people can get this disease from their pets. The bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness to their owners. It’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wash your hands after touching your pets, their food, waste, or supplies. Call your veterinarian of you have questions about your pet’s health.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at 1-800-525-0127 or visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


If you or a loved one is 60 or older

People over 60 have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. There are things you can do every day to protect yourself and the people you care for:

  • Try to stay at home and limit your outings. Many grocery stores and pharmacies have special shopping hours for seniors. You may also be able to place an order online or by phone and then pick it up or have it delivered. Many health care providers are offering telehealth visits.
  • If you have to go out, it’s especially important to wear a mask, carry hand sanitizer, try not to touch your face and stay six feet away from others.
  • Watch out for a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough and shortness of breath which may be signs of illness. Call your healthcare provider if these symptoms show up.
  • If you are caring for someone with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association has tips for dementia caregivers and additional resources including a 24/7 helpline, a free service where specialists and masters-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with the disease, caregivers, families and the public.

For other tips, read this article from Public Health – Seattle & King County, Staying Connected While Staying at Home: Tips for Older Adults. 

Spread the facts: Get informed with specific resources for older adults. Washington’s Coronavirus Response website has lots of important information for those over 60. The national Administration for Community Living has information for older adults and people with disabilities.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


If you or a loved one has another health issue

People with underlying health issues like heart disease, chronic lung disease or diabetes have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. Cancer patients and survivors may also need to take special steps to protect their health. There are things you can do every day to protect yourself and the people you care for:

  • Try to stay at home and limit your outings. You may be able to have your groceries delivered, order online or by phone and pick it up curbside or have a friend or neighbor make the trip for you. Many health care providers are offering telehealth visits.
  • If you have to go out, it’s especially important to wear a mask, carry hand sanitizer, try not to touch your face and stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Watch out for a fever of 100.4 or higher, cough and shortness of breath which may be signs of illness. Call your healthcare provider if these symptoms show up.

Spread the facts: Dealing with another health issue right now may be difficult and frightening. Learn more about coping with your specific health condition right now and the precautions can take to protect yourself and your loved ones:

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Pregnancy and COVID-19

If you or a household member is pregnant or just had a baby

It is always important to protect yourself from illness during pregnancy so complications don’t develop. So far, pregnant people do not appear to be at greater risk for illness and complications than other adults who aren’t pregnant. It is also unlikely that your baby will get COVID-19 while pregnant.

If you have COVID-19, talk with your provider about what to expect during labor, delivery and after you have the baby while in the hospital. The Department of Health worked with a group of experts in the field to develop this fact sheet on caring for your baby if you have COVID-19. It is available in many other languages.

Spread the facts: If you have COVID-19 or think that you do and you are pregnant – talk with a health care provider right away about what to expect and the decisions you need to make.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.

Spread the facts


Find help with food, housing, utility payments, and other necessities

This pandemic has resulted in dramatic increases in unemployment. Filing for unemployment benefits is an important way to help meet basic needs. The state Employment Security Department has a 4 steps to help workers impacted by COVID-19 file for unemployment. If you are having trouble paying rent, your mortgage or other loans, the state Department of Financial Institutions has resources to help you. Governor Inslee placed a moratorium on evictions and he has asked utility companies to suspend disconnections and waive late fees during this emergency. If you are homeless or becoming homeless or you need help getting food there are resources to help you.

Spread the facts: The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty and stress. There are resources to help you and your family and supports for dealing with anxiety from this situation.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.


Learn about stigma and how to address it

Misinformation about COVID-19 created fear and led to bias and stigmatizing actions against Asian communities and people perceived to be Asian. You can find information and resources and where to report discrimination on this webpage from the Department of Health. Read this blog post by Public Health – Seattle & King County on Stopping Racism Fueled by COVID-19 Fear to learn more about this issue and the actions that you can take.

Spread the facts: Fight stigma by learning about it, reporting discrimination and spreading the facts. Use this toolkit to talk about COVID-19 in a consistent and compassionate way.

For more information, call the Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on observed state holidays. You can also visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov. You can sign up to get email or texts from the Governor’s Office or the Washington State Department of Health.