Washington state's coronavirus death toll stood at 992 in the Department of Health's Friday update, a 24-hour increase of nine.

As of May 14, there were 17,951 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Washington state, an increase of 178 cases over the previous 24 hours, DOH reported.

U.S. covid-19 fatalities totaled 87,559 Friday night, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine reported.

State covid response

Counties with a population of less than 75,000 that have not had a new case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply for a variance to move to Phase 2 of “Safe Start” before other parts of the state. County variance applications will be approved or denied by the secretary of the Department of Health. Nine counties have received the variance.

For counties granted variance to move to Phase 2, all construction, including new work, is allowed, effective May 15.

Don’t be fooled by misinformation: Public health officials regularly ask people who are sick with an infectious disease or may have been exposed to an infectious disease to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. This strategy has been used for decades to combat the spread of tuberculosis, measles, Ebola and SARS. Our experience during the covid-19 pandemic and with other infectious diseases shows the vast majority of people we ask are willing to follow recommendations and isolate or quarantine themselves. Isolation and quarantine at home continues to be the best option and our recommendation for those who can do so safely.

However, all of these actions are voluntary and confidential, despite the misinformation being spread by some. We hope people will continue to protect their families and communities by following public health recommendations. For more information visit https://app.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246.100.040.

Voluntary contact information as part of phased reopening: Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement today on voluntary contact information for patrons as part of phased reopening.

"We are asking visitors to voluntarily provide contact information in case of covid-19 exposure. We only need information for one person per household. If we learn you may have been exposed to covid-19 during your visit, the information will only be shared with public health officials. They will contact you to explain the risk, answer questions and provide resources. This information will not be used for any other purpose, including sales or marketing. If this list is not used within 30 days, it will be destroyed," Inslee said. "This will not be required of anyone."

There is no mandatory isolation/quarantine order in place: Contact tracing is completely voluntary by both businesses and patrons. While local health officers and the state secretary of health have authority to issue isolation and quarantine orders, the law is designed with protections for people’s rights in mind. Local health officers must first seek voluntary compliance before issuing an order, unless doing so would itself create a risk of serious harm, which may be the case if a large group of people needs to be ordered into isolation or quarantine. Orders may be issued to groups of people, though each has hearing rights individually. 

Helping kids to wear cloth face coverings: Are your children wearing pants? Do they know where their shoes are? We’re off our routine, the kids aren’t really leaving the house and some of us have changed our standards for appropriate daily wear. However, now that the weather is getting warmer and the state parks are open, the outdoors are beckoning. Time to get the kids in shoes and cloth face coverings. Click here for more information: https://medium.com/wadepthealth/helping-kids-to-wear-cloth-face-coverings-848a025f64a6.

Distancing measures remain critical

A new statewide report (tinyurl.com/WA-May-12-Report) shows covid-19 transmission is persisting in western Washington and slowly increasing in eastern Washington. The measure of how many new infections a single covid-19 case will produce — known as the effective reproductive number — has not changed significantly in either region since the last statewide report, and continues to be higher than ideal.

“The new report is one more data point emphasizing how critical physical distancing and other disease control measures continue to be,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “We’ve seen some success in our state because of the work each and every one of us is doing to stop the spread of the virus, and an exponential increase in cases is still a possibility. I’m asking everyone to keep up the good work to protect their families and communities.”


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. 

Interested in volunteering during disasters and significant events like covid-19? Register with the Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers (WAserv) to partner with public health and others who need assistance in their response to the covid-19 pandemic: tinyurl.com/WA-Community-Health-Volunteer.

Visit the Department of Health's website for cases by county, demographics and more: www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus.

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