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Here’s what we know so far regarding the COVID-19 outbreak for Clallam and Jefferson counties and around the world:
Wednesday, Nov. 25
• Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday additional requirements for health and dental facilities, which will go into effect next week, in hopes of preventing COVID-19 outbreaks.
In the recently amended proclamation, Inslee prohibited all medical and dental facilities from providing non-urgent health care and dental services and surgeries “unless specific procedures and criteria are met,” in an attempt to conserve PPE for health care workers.
He also increased requirements on personal protective equipment (PPE) use, testing of health care professionals, notifications of outbreaks and distancing requirements in non-clinical areas of health facilities.
“With the increase in COVID outbreaks in health care facilities, it is important that we continue to protect patients and health workers from contracting COVID in a place where they feel safe, especially as we see COVID activity increasing dramatically across the state,” Inslee said in a statement.
The changes will go into effect on Dec. 3 and will remain in effect through the COVID-19 state of emergency.
• State health officials confirmed 2,887 new coronavirus cases in Washington state on Wednesday and 14 additional deaths — though Department of Health (DOH) officials have noted that the number of cases may be inflated.
“Due to laboratory report volumes reaching unprecedented levels during the past two weeks,” DOH wrote in a statement, “some duplicate lab reports and case information have been included in our dashboards.”
The update brings the state’s totals to 153,906 reported cases, according to the DOH’s dashboard.
As of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the DOH reported that 2,704 people had died of COVID-19 in Washington state, or 1.8% of people diagnosed, and 10,242 people have been hospitalized due to the virus.
In King County, Washington’s most populous, DOH reported 892 new coronavirus cases, bringing the county’s total to 41,414 diagnoses and 866 deaths.
DOH said the “epidemiologic curves” tab of its COVID-19 data dashboard site is the most accurate representation of coronavirus activity in the state, but its “confirmed cases” data is roughly two weeks behind today’s reported numbers.
Because of the backlog and in an attempt to prioritize an update on positive tests, DOH said its negative test results, total tests data and percent positivity won’t be available until at least Nov. 30.
• AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Wednesday acknowledged a manufacturing error that is raising questions about preliminary results of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
A statement describing the error came days after the company and the university described the shots as “highly effective” and made no mention of why some study participants didn’t receive as much vaccine in the first of two shots as expected.
In a surprise, the group of volunteers that got a lower dose seemed to be much better protected than the volunteers who got two full doses. In the low-dose group, AstraZeneca said, the vaccine appeared to be 90% effective. In the group that got two full doses, the vaccine appeared to be 62% effective. Combined, the drugmakers said the vaccine appeared to be 70% effective. But the way in which the results were arrived at and reported by the companies has led to pointed questions from experts.
• Hospitals will be allowed to care for Medicare patients, including those with COVID-19, in their own homes during the pandemic under a government program announced Wednesday to help hospitals deal with the latest surge.
Some hospitals already offered patients with private insurance the choice of getting care at home instead of in the hospital. The pandemic dramatically boosted use of such programs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will let hospitals quickly launch home programs, which will offer around-the-clock electronic monitoring for Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients who are sick enough to be hospitalized, but don’t need intensive care.
• Jefferson County ascribed a woman’s death to COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, its first report of a death related to the virus.
The death of the woman, who was already in hospice care for other ailments, is the only COVID-19-related death confirmed in Jefferson County. Clallam County has reported two deaths from the virus.
• Millions of Americans took to the skies and the highways for Thanksgiving at the risk of pouring gasoline on the coronavirus fire, disregarding increasingly dire warnings that they stay home and limit their holiday gatherings to members of their own household.
Those who are flying witnessed a distinctly 2020 landscape at the nation’s airports during what is traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year: plexiglass barriers in front of the ID stations, rapid virus testing sites inside terminals, and paperwork asking them to quarantine on arrival at their destination.
About 1 million people per day passed through U.S. airport checkpoints from Friday through Tuesday amid skyrocketing deaths, hospitalizations and confirmed infections across the U.S. It’s a drop-off of around 60% from the same time a year ago, but still, those are the biggest crowds since March.
Among those who pressed ahead with their holiday plans despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to travel and keep Thanksgiving celebrations small is Cassidy Zerkle of Phoenix, who flew to Kansas City, Missouri, to visit family.
“I think with the holidays and everything, it’s so important right now,” she said, “especially because people are so bummed out because of the whole pandemic.”
• The pandemic, which shut down theaters in March, may have upended most traditions this holiday season, but the annual New York City parade will march on with balloons, dancers, floats, Broadway shows and Santa — albeit heavily edited for safety.
“Traditions like this are comforting and they’re uplifting,” said Susan Tercero, executive producer of the parade. “New York has always been a tough city. It bounces back. It takes its blows and then it continues on. And I think it’s extremely important for us to be that display this holiday season. Regardless of what’s happened, New York needs to be that beacon of light in the darkness and this parade, I think, is symbolic of that.”
The Macy’s parade has been a traditional holiday season kickoff for more than 90 years, and spectators often line up a half-dozen deep along the route to cheer about 8,000 marchers, two dozen floats, entertainers and marching bands. At last year’s parade, the big fear was high wind. This time, it’s a pandemic that has made crowds untenable.
• Cleaning wipes are harder to find on store shelves, and businesses are reassuring customers with stepped up sanitation measures. In New York, the subway system is shut down nightly for disinfecting.
To avoid any traces of the coronavirus that might be lurking on surfaces, Americans have been wiping down groceries, wearing surgical gloves when they go out and leaving mail packages out for an extra day or two. But experts say the national fixation on scrubbing sparked by the pandemic can sometimes be overkill.
“It’s important to clean surfaces, but not to obsess about it too much in a way that can be unhealthy,” said Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer for the COVID-19 response at the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control.
Cleaning is still recommended, especially frequently touched spots like door knobs or elevator buttons. But with COVID-19, experts say to keep the risk in perspective: The virus is fragile and doesn’t survive easily outside the body for long.
• A federal judge has declined to bar or alter Gov. Kate Brown’s two-week freeze that prohibits indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and bars in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut on Tuesday denied a temporary restraining order sought by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and Restaurant Law Center.
Immergut issued her ruling after hearing nearly an hour of argument. It marked the latest rejection by a judge in Oregon of a challenge to the governor’s coronavirus restrictions which went into effect Nov. 18 and limits restaurants and bars to take-out and delivery only.
The restaurant association, which represents 10,000 food service and 2,000 lodging businesses across the state, and the public policy group Restaurant Law Center had asked the judge to modify the governor’s order.
• Congress is bracing for President-elect Joe Biden to move beyond the Trump administration’s state-by-state approach to the COVID-19 crisis and build out a national strategy to fight the pandemic and distribute the eventual vaccine.
The incoming administration’s approach reflects Democrats’ belief that a more comprehensive plan, some of it outlined in the House’s $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill, is needed to get the pandemic under control. Republicans have resisted big spending but agree additional funding is needed. With the nation on edge but a vaccine in sight, the complicated logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans raise the stakes on the major undertaking.
“We have an incredible challenge on our hands,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, which is approaching the anniversary of its first reported case of the virus last January.
As Congress weighs a new round of COVID-19 relief, federal officials say doses of the vaccine could begin shipping within a day of Food and Drug Administration approval. Three pharmaceutical manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — have announced early results. But the rollout faces a patchwork of state plans, a transitioning White House and potential backlash from vaccine skeptics, despite the rising U.S. death toll of nearly 260,000 people.
• The federal government plans to send 6.4 million doses of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to communities across the United States within 24 hours of regulatory clearance, with the expectation that shots will be administered quickly to front-line health-care workers, the top priority group, officials said Tuesday.
The amount would cover only a portion of the nation’s 20 million health-care workers, let alone the U.S. population of 330 million. But additional doses will be delivered as manufacturing capacity ramps up in each successive week.
With increased prospects that federal regulators will authorize the Pfizer vaccine on an emergency basis as early as mid-December, and the first shots administered before the end of the year, Operation Warp Speed has begun to release more details about the massive and complicated distribution effort to immunize tens of millions of Americans.
• With domestic violence on the rise amid the coronavirus pandemic, activists are holding protests Wednesday from France to Turkey and world dignitaries are trying to find ways to protect millions of women killed or abused every year by their partners.
The pope called for global action to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. France’s government sealed a deal with TikTok to encourage young people to report abuse through the social network. World soccer governing body FIFA announced an awareness campaign.
“Men’s violence against women is also a pandemic – one that pre-dates the virus and will outlive it,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the U.N. Women agency.
“Last year alone, 243 million women and girls experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner. This year, reports of increased domestic violence, cyberbullying, child marriages, sexual harassment and sexual violence have flooded in,” she said.
• With major COVID-19 vaccines showing high levels of protection, British officials are cautiously — and they stress cautiously — optimistic that life may start returning to normal by early April.
Even before regulators have approved a single vaccine, the U.K. and countries across Europe are moving quickly to organize the distribution and delivery systems needed to inoculate millions of citizens.
“If we can roll it out at a good lick … then with a favorable wind, this is entirely hypothetical, but we should be able to inoculate, I believe on the evidence I’m seeing, the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday after vaccine makers in recent weeks have announced encouraging results. “That will make a very substantial change to where we are at the moment.”
• The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 778,000, evidence that the U.S. economy and job market remain under strain as coronavirus cases surge and colder weather heighten the risks.
The Labor Department’s report Wednesday said jobless claims climbed from 748,000 the week before. Before the virus struck hard in mid-March, weekly claims typically amounted to roughly 225,000. They shot up to 6.9 million during one week in March before dropping yet remain historically high more than eight months later, with many businesses unable to fully reopen.
• As the ravages of the novel coronavirus forced millions of people out of work, shuttered businesses and shrank the value of retirement accounts, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged to a three-year low.
But for Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, the crisis last March signaled something else: a stock buying opportunity.
And for the second time in less than two months, Perdue’s timing was impeccable. He avoided a sharp loss and reaped a stunning gain by selling and then buying the same stock: Cardlytics, an Atlanta-based financial technology company on whose board of directors he once served.
Tuesday, Nov. 24
• Federal health officials are working on guidance to shorten the recommended 14-day quarantine period following a potential exposure to COVID-19, the top U.S. virus-testing official said.
Officials are beginning to see a preponderance of evidence that people could spend less time in quarantine if they also test negative for COVID-19, said Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services,
“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” Giroir said on a Tuesday call with reporters.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends people stay home for 14 days after close contact with someone who has COVID-19. That advice stands even when people feel healthy or test negative for the virus, the agency’s website says, because symptoms may develop anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure.
• Washington state has shattered its previous COVID-19 record with 3,482 new cases, the state Department of Health (DOH) reported Monday, along with 35 new deaths.
King County, the state’s most populous, reported 888 new cases alone, the DOH reported.
The previous record was 2,589 cases in one day, reported just a week ago on Nov. 17.
The update brings the state’s totals to 151,019 cases and 2,690 deaths, meaning that 1.8% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Monday.
The DOH also reported that 10,166 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus — 70 new hospitalizations since Sunday.
• Are dining tents a safe way to eat out during the pandemic?
Health experts say outdoor dining tents are generally safer than dining inside, but caution that they’re not all equal.
Many restaurants are erecting individual tents, igloos and other outdoor structures that let people who are dining together avoid being indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily.
Experts say the structures should be well-ventilated. A tent with four walls and a roof, for example, might not have better ventilation than an indoor dining room.
“The more airflow through the structure, the better it is,” says Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, a public health expert at Cornell University.
Igloos and individual tents are a creative solution but shouldn’t be shared with people who aren’t in your household, says Craig Hedberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
“If it’s keeping you from being in a common airspace with other people, then that’s a good thing,” he says.
• YouTube said it suspended right-wing channel One America News Network for one week, beginning Tuesday, for violating its policy against misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and temporarily stripped the channel of its ability to make money from other videos.
The action against OAN, which President Donald Trump’s allies have praised in recent weeks while raging against Fox News for supposed disloyalty during and after this month’s election, was the latest sign that Silicon Valley was prepared to enforce policies against false and misleading information — even against those aligned with the president.
YouTube spokeswoman Ivy Choi said OAN, which has 1.2 million subscribers on the video service and sees some of its posts reach hundreds of thousands of viewers, violated the policy against portraying a COVID-19 remedy as a cure for the illness that has killed more than 258,000 Americans and 1.4 million people worldwide.
In addition to losing the ability to post new videos for the coming week, OAN has been suspended from YouTubes’s “Partner Program,” which allows monetization of videos through advertisements, which can be a significant source of revenue to online operations. The reason, said Choi, were “repeated violations” of YouTube’s policies against COVID misinformation.
• Health officials in the Portland metro-area issued a final plea to Oregonians Tuesday asking them to celebrate Thanksgiving responsibly — at home and with no more than six people.
Following previous holidays, COVID-19 cases in Oregon have increased. Health officials say they are worried if that pattern continues hospitals will be overburdened and not able to assist everyone in a timely manner.
“The key takeaway today is to cancel or extremely dial back Thanksgiving plans,” said Jennifer Vines, the Multnomah County Health Officer. “An increase (in cases) two or three weeks from now would land us in an extremely difficult position.”
As COVID-19 cases increase in Oregon, officials’ concerns about hospitals reaching capacity are also growing.
Currently there are 474 COVID-19 patients in Oregon hospitals — a 176% increase from the start of the month and 25% increase from last week.
Of the COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized, 113 are in intensive care units.
• Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered to celebrate a wedding inside a cavernous hall in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood earlier this month, dancing and singing with hardly a mask in sight. The wedding was meticulously planned, and so were efforts to conceal it from the authorities, who said that the organizers would be fined $15,000 for violating public health restrictions.
The wedding, organized Nov. 8 by leaders of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, is the latest incident in a long battle between city and state officials and members of the ultra-Orthodox community, who prize autonomy, chafe at government restrictions and have frequently flouted guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing.
In October, state officials announced a series of restrictions in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with large Orthodox Jewish populations after the positive test rate for COVID-19 in those areas rose above 4%. Many residents protested the restrictions, which included closing nonessential businesses and limiting capacity at houses of worship.
While positive test rates in several of these areas have decreased since the restrictions were implemented, tensions between city officials and area leaders have continued.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the fine Monday night after video of the wedding — and a florid account of the event and extensive efforts to conceal it appeared in a Hasidic newspaper — drew backlash online. He said additional penalties could be imposed on the organizers.
“We know there was a wedding,” the mayor told local news network NY1. “We know it was too big. I don’t have an exact figure, but whatever it was, it was too big. There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it. Which is absolutely unacceptable.”
• Waiters and bartenders are being thrown out of work – again – as governors and local officials shut down indoor dining and drinking establishments to combat the nationwide surge in coronavirus infections that is overwhelming hospitals and dashing hopes for a quick economic recovery.
And the timing, just before the holidays, couldn’t be worse.
• Gatherings can have grave consequences right now, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday on Twitter, releasing a video saying COVID-19 “can find you” at celebrations with closest friends and family get-togethers.
“Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart. Don’t host gatherings even in your own home,” the video says. “… COVID-19 can find you here.”
Gatherings have grave consequences right now.
Stay safe. Protect the people you love. Keep to your immediate household. pic.twitter.com/Nlo3EEC9kY
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) November 24, 2020
The message, of course, drew a mixed reaction.
“Do the right thing folks and avoid gatherings THIS year please. The risk to your community is just too great. Stay safe and stay home,” said Amanda K [email protected] in a reply to the governor’s tweet.
Curtis [email protected] tweeted, “Drama much? … We need family more than ever right now.”
• Belgium’s northern region of Flanders approved $680 million Tuesday to support staff at nursing home and welfare facilities that has come under intense pressure during the coronavirus crisis.
During the first wave of the pandemic during the spring and again now, care homes have been centers of infections and deaths. Over the past several weeks, staff levels in several homes have dropped to a minimum because infected nurses and others have had to quarantine after contracting the virus. The army has had to reinforce staff in some cases to manage essential care.
The overall neglect has been so bad that Amnesty International said last week that authorities “abandoned” thousands of elderly who died in nursing homes during the first spring surge of the pandemic.
• British authorities gave the green light Tuesday to holiday reunions, relaxing restrictions on social mixing over Christmas and offering arriving international travelers a way to cut short quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.
The U.K. government and administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland struck a deal that will ease limits on travel and socializing over the festive period so that friends and families can get together.
Over the five days between Dec. 23 and 27, up to three households can form a “Christmas bubble” and members can move freely between them. Those travelling to and from Northern Ireland will be permitted to travel for an additional day either side.
• U.S. consumer confidence fell to a reading of 96.1 in November as rising coronavirus cases pushed American optimism down to the lowest level since August.
The November reading released Tuesday by the the Conference Board said represents a drop from a revised 101.4 in October. The decline reflected a big drop in consumer expectations for income, business and labor market conditions.
“Heading into 2021, consumers do not foresee the economy nor the labor market gaining strength. In addition, the resurgence of COVID-19 is further increasing uncertainty and exacerbating concerns about the outlook,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators for the Conference Board.
• These days, with a pandemic raging, this is what life can look like:
Staring at your face on Zoom for hours instead of occasionally glimpsing it in the mirror. Living out the days in loungewear. Wearing minimal makeup because no one sees much of you. Considering an investment in home exercise equipment because gyms are closed or restricted.
The pandemic has forced people to spend more time with themselves than ever. Along the way, it has reshaped and broadened the way many think about and prioritize how they treat themselves — what has come to be called self-care.
• Malaysia’s Top Glove Corp., the world’s largest maker of rubber gloves, said Tuesday it expects a two-to-four-week delay in deliveries after more than 2,000 workers at its factories were infected by the coronavirus, raising the possibility of supply disruptions during the pandemic.
Top Glove said it has temporarily stopped production at 16 factories in Klang, a town outside Kuala Lumpur, since Nov. 17 to screen workers, with its remaining 12 facilities in the area operating at much reduced capacities.
The government on Monday ordered 28 Top Glove factories in Klang to shut down in stages to allow workers to undergo screening and mandatory quarantine after 2,453 factory workers tested positive for COVID-19.
• When Marina Gómez and her fellow mortuary worker enter a room at a nursing home to remove the body of a COVID-19 victim, they work methodically and in silence.
They disinfect the mouth, nose and eyes to reduce the risk of contamination. They wrap the body in the bed sheets. Two white body bags are used, one inside the other, and the zippers are closed in the opposite direction: the first bag is sealed head to foot; the second, foot to head.
The only sound in the room is from the whisper of the zippers, sealing the dead from view for the last time.
Gómez and her colleagues work for Mémora, the leading funeral service provider in Barcelona with homes throughout Spain and Portugal. They are part of a group of essential workers. Like nurses and doctors, they have seen and touched the march of death from the virus that has already killed some 1.4 million people around the world.
• In Pennsylvania, if you’re having friends over to socialize, you’re supposed to wear a mask — and so are your friends. That’s the rule, but Barb Chestnut has no intention of following it.
“No one is going to tell me what I can or not do in my own home,” said Chestnut, 60, of Shippensburg. “They do not pay my bills and they are not going to tell me what to do.”
As governors and mayors grapple with an out-of-control pandemic, they are ratcheting up mask mandates and imposing restrictions on small indoor gatherings, which have been blamed for accelerating the spread of the coronavirus. But while such measures carry the weight of law, they are, in practical terms, unenforceable, and officials are banking on voluntary compliance instead.
Good luck with that.
While many are undoubtedly heeding public health advice — downsizing Thanksgiving plans, avoiding get-togethers, wearing masks when they’re around people who don’t live with them — it’s inevitable that a segment of the population will blow off new state and local restrictions and socialize anyway. Experts say that could put greater stress on overburdened hospitals and lead to an even bigger spike in sickness and death over the holidays.
• The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce has updated its listing of open restaurants within the city. The below listing is as of Nov. 20.
• Via The Associated Press: What you need to know today about the virus outbreak.
For more local coronavirus stories, click here.
The count of cases and deaths is a moving target, with jurisdictions reporting sometimes-contradictory numbers. Ours might not match what other media are reporting.
• As of 11:59 p.m. Nov. 24, Washington state has 153,906 confirmed cases (meaning the person has the virus) and 2,704 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
• 2,327 cases in Kitsap County. 27 deaths.
• 152 cases in Jefferson County. 1 death.
• 456 cases in Clallam County. 2 deaths.
For other county numbers, visit www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.
Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center. Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students and more.
Do you need support due to stress from COVID-19? Call Washington Listens, a line that provides nonclinical support to people experiencing elevated stress due to COVID-19. People who call Washington Listens will speak to a support specialist and receive information and connection to community resources in their area. The program is anonymous and no identifying information is maintained. People who staff Washington Listens will receive basic training needed to provide support to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach Washington Listens, call 1-833-681-0211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Read the Washington Listens fact sheet.
COVID-19 information & best practices
What is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, known as SARS-CoV-2, is the virus strain identified in January that causes COVID-19, coronavirus disease, and is spreading from person to person.
Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
What is the difference between Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19?
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
There are some key differences between flu and COVID-19. COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer.
Another important difference is there is a vaccine to protect against flu. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. More information about differences between flu and COVID-19 is available in the different sections below.
Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two.
While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This page compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever.
While getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19 there are many important benefits, such as:
1. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.
2. Getting a flu vaccine can also save healthcare resources for the care of patients with COVID-19.
COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly by the following routes:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks.
- Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
- People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.
Less common ways COVID-19 can spread
- Under certain circumstances (for example, when people are in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation), COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.
- COVID-19 spreads less commonly through contact with contaminated surfaces.
What to do if you’re sick
• If you suspect you have COVID-19, isolate at home during illness. Restrict activities outside of the home except for getting medical care. Call ahead unless you are in crisis.
• Call 360-417-2430, a hotline that provides local information on the infection.
For more information on COVID-19 testing, click here.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
As a reminder, according to the CDC, here are recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
For more information on using cloth face coverings and how to make your own, click here.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Once home from work, school, running errands, etc., immediately wash your hands.
• Consider purchasing the following supplies: extra fluids and hydrating drinks (Gatorade and Pedialyte); food for when you’re sick (soups, broths, crackers, honey, nonperishable items); pain and fever medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen); cough drops and cough medications; prescription medications; tissues; household cleaners (bleach, alcohol, soap, disinfecting wipes).
• You should wash your phone, too. Here’s how.