With more cases of novel coronavirus being reported in King County, various government agencies are taking steps to prepare for cases and inform area residents about the COVID-19 virus strain.

Seattle Public Schools officials announced in a press release this week that the school district is providing families with weekly updates and share information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health.

According to the press release, Seattle Public Schools is actively communicating with the Public Health - Seattle and King County about COVID-19.

“While the CDC advises that the risk is currently low, we are taking this health threat very seriously and contingency planning is underway at the district office,” according to the press release issued last week.

According to the release, school nurses and staff are monitoring schools for students with symptoms. Officials are asking families to help keep students healthy and safe by reminding young people to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, and cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Officials also ask that, as with the regular flu, parents should keep their children home from school if they have a fever.

City officials are also asking residents to be diligent and prepared, following the confirmation by public health authorities of new cases of coronavirus.

“Although there are no confirmed cases in the City of Seattle, we have been preparing as a city since January,” Mayor Jenny A. Durkin stated in a press release issued Saturday. “We remain in regular, close contact with the Washington State Department of Health, Public Health - Seattle & King County, the King County executive, the governor’s office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our public health officials at the state, local and national levels are working together to keep the public safe and informed. Individuals, families and businesses should make plans and prepare. The No. 1 thing people can do now is to heed the public health advice to keep from getting sick, and stay home if you do get sick.”

According to the press release, Durkin has convened her Emergency Executive Board and cabinet to address the issues related to the city’s preparations for COVID-19. To build on those efforts, the city is activating its emergency operating center to coordinate with city, local and state partners.

According to a press release issued Monday, the city of Seattle activated its Joint Information Center to support operations related to the COVID-19 response, as well. Public information officers are available to answer media inquiries at (206) 233-5072.

In a separate release, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Saturday he activated the county Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the work of cities across the region.

“The emergency operations center will provide regional coordination in support of county and local operations for King County residents,” Constantine said in the press release.

The EOC will also work with the King County Public Health and Medical Area Command to coordinate efforts at all levels of county government, according to the press release. King County Metro has also formed an incident management team to develop recommendations, strategies and protocols to sustain Metro operations in all contingencies, the press release said.

In addition, King County’s Department of Community and Human Services and Public Health are working with the county’s Facilities Management Division “to explore options for people who are homeless who may need to rest and recover from any possible COVID-19 infections away from others in shelter locations,” according to the press release.

According to the Public Health - Seattle and King County website, a team of CDC officials is working with the agency and the Washington State Department of Health, healthcare system partners and others as more cases of the virus are confirmed.

According to the Public Health web page dedicated to the virus, www.kingcounty.gov/covid, the public can help in a number of ways.

According to the Public Health website people should not going to the emergency room unless necessary to allow health professionals to serve people with the most critical needs.

People who have symptoms like cough, fever or respiratory problems should contact their regular doctor first.

Other recommendations include:

  • Staying home when sick
  • Practicing good personal hygiene habits, including hand washing, coughing into tissue or elbow, and avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth
  • Staying informed, as new information is being released regularly - check and subscribe to Public Health’s website or its Public Health Insider blog

For more information on COVID-19, people can also visit the Public Health website’s Frequently Asked Questions page at https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/disease-control/novel-coronavirus/FAQ.aspx.

All residents and those who work or travel through the city of Seattle can sign up for AlertSeattle, the city’s official emergency notification system. Through AlertSeattle, the city can send real-time and customized notifications via text, email, voice message and social media during emergencies to include significant public health updates.

The Washington State Department of Health has also established a call center to address the public’s questions. People should dial (800) 525-0127 and press #.