Update for March 17, 2020: Updated guidance for retail establishments and childcares


Public Health provides updated guidance for retail establishments and childcares. We announced positive cases among King County employees. Public Health is reporting 30 new cases today, bringing the official case count in King County to 518. In addition, three new deaths are reported, bringing the total of confirmed deaths to 46.


Governor and Local Health Officer orders

The Washington state Governor’s Proclamation and Local Health Officer Order yesterday required closures and changes to businesses for many King County, as well as prohibitions on gatherings of more than 50 people and guidelines for gatherings of fewer than 50 people.

Guidance for childcares

Childcares are not required to close, but there are considerations for childcares to make about whether they should close or not. Child care and early learning serve a vitally important function in allowing parents to continue working, which has positive public health, economic and social impacts. Public Health suggests that decisions about whether and for how long to close a child care, are made that weigh the potential benefits gained by reducing the potential for COVID-19 transmission in the child care with the impacts of closing. For more information regarding childcares see our childcare guidance.

Guidance for retail establishments

Yesterday’s Local Health Officer Order prohibited most social and recreational establishments from operating until further notice, provided strict guidance for food establishments limit service to drive through, take-out and delivery, and encouraged other essential retail establishments to stay open, as long as they take steps to minimize the spread of disease. For more information regarding retail establishments see the retail guidance.

New cases in King County employees

As community transmission becomes more widespread, Public Health is learning of positive cases across businesses and organizations in King County. A correctional officer informed Jail leadership that the officer tested positive for COVID-19; the officer did not demonstrate symptoms while working. This is the first confirmed case at one of King County’s correctional facilities. The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention has taken several emergency measures to ensure the health and safety all of inmates, visitors, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, a Public Health – Seattle & King County staff member involved in COVID-19 response tested positive for the illness, after self-monitoring of symptoms led the individual to seek care and testing. The staff member began to show mild symptoms at work and went home. This is the first Public Health employee to test positive for the illness. All staff are being asked to take appropriate precautions, including monitoring their symptoms daily, stay home when they are sick and go home if they become ill while at work.

Many new cases being reported throughout King County

COVID-19 is spreading in King County, with hundreds of cases having been reported to date. We expect the case count to double every 5–7 days unless these orders to stay away from others are followed diligently. Already, we can expect that anyone we come into contact with may be infected because there is wide-spread infection in our community.

Follow the guidance for anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 and their contacts on how to prevent the spread to others.

It’s critical to minimize the number of people who get seriously ill at the same time. If too many people get sick all at once, this will put too much of a burden on our health care system. If that happens, people at highest risk – people over 60, and with underlying health conditions – may not be able to get the care they need if they get seriously ill.

Case updates

Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting the following confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/16/20

  • 518 confirmed cases (up 30 from yesterday)
  • 46 confirmed deaths (up 3 from yesterday)

These additional deaths include:

  • A man in his 70s, who died at Valley Medical Center on 3/16
  • A man in his 90s, who died at EvergreenHealth on 3/16
  • A woman in her 70s, who died at EvergreenHealth on 3/13

Of the 46 deaths reported, 30 are confirmed to be associated with Life Care Center of Kirkland.

Isolation and quarantine facilities update

There are two King County residents needing a safe place for isolation and quarantine who have been admitted to the facility in Kent. Individuals can only be placed into these sites after a health professional with Public Health – Seattle & King County has determined that they need isolation or quarantine.

The number of persons in King County’s isolation and quarantine sites will be included in regular updates provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County. No other identifying or personal information will be provided.