Public Health – Seattle & King County update on COVID-19 (3/6/20)


Public Health – Seattle & King County urges King County residents to follow guidance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in our community. Our official case count remains at 51, with 10 deaths, but updated numbers will be provided later today.


King County residents are urged to follow recommendations aimed at reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. These recommendations are based on the best information we have currently to protect the public’s health.

Public Health recommendations to reduce risk of infection with COVID-19:

Public Health is aware that events are being postponed, employers are encouraging that employees work from home and many schools have chosen to temporarily close. Public Health supports these decisions. While evidence currently available is that the vast majority of children and most adults are not at risk for severe illness, we do know that some members of our community are at higher risk. These include:

  • People 60 and older
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems
  • People who are pregnant

People at higher risk should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. More detail on these measures is available at

Public Health recommendations on what to do if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 or are worried that you may have COVID-19.

Guidance differs depending on whether a person has a confirmed or suspect case him/herself, has close contacts with a person with confirmed COVID-19, or feels ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. See guidance recommendations.

School recommendations:

Public Health is not currently recommending that schools proactively close unless they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member or student. School closures have significant negative impacts on our community. We have provided additional information to schools about how to stay open safely.

Public Health also respects each individual school’s decisions about closures, postponement of activities, or other social distancing measures – as each school knows the needs of their community best. Public Health is continually assessing our decision not to require the widespread closure of schools. See our press release for more information about school closure considerations.

King County Novel Coronavirus Call Center:

  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you’re a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact our novel coronavirus call center: 206-477-3977.
  • The call center will be open daily from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM PT.
  • For general concerns and questions about COVID-19, please call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127.

When to seek medical evaluation and advice:

  • If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your healthcare provider. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

In addition to the recommendations listed above, the public can help:

  1. Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. 
  2. Stay home when sick.
  3. Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  4. Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system. 
  5. Stay informed. Information is changing frequently. Check and subscribe to Public Health’s website ( or blog (

Remember to take every day preventive action such as washing hands, and if you are sick stay home. During an outbreak with a new virus there is a lot of uncertainty. Our guidance and advice is subject to change as we learn more. We will continue to keep you updated.