Dear friends and neighbors,
Washington state is experiencing an increase in cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including several deaths. It is anticipated that the virus will continue to spread. As your legislator, and someone who’s spent my career in public health, I want to make sure you have the facts and understand the basics on how to stay healthy.
First, health officials are working rapidly to identify and test people who may have been exposed. Public health officials in our state have experience responding to pandemics and are working with state and county health officials to share information, deploy resources, and respond at maximum capacity. I know our local Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is mobilized to respond to this evolving situation.
Second, currently the risk to the general public is low due to the unlikelihood of exposure to the virus. Risk of exposure is elevated for healthcare workers, people who have had close contact with persons with COVID-19, and travelers returning from affected international locations (China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong).
Third, understand how to best protect yourself and your family, and what to do if you think you may have been exposed. The graphic below is from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and I find it simple and helpful:
You can also call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
Stay up to date through the DOH website and social media channels below:
What the Legislature is doing to respond to COVID-19:
In the House, Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Schmick, Chair and Ranking Member of the Health Care & Wellness Committee respectively, have offered a bipartisan bill to transfer $50 million to get state agencies and local governments the necessary funding to respond to COVID-19. It will also give the Department of Social and Health Services funding to increase nursing staff to help address this growing need. We’ll continue to work with DOH, DSHS, and other state agencies to identify what the Legislature can do to ensure the necessary resources are available to respond to this outbreak.
We are all in this together. Please make sure to follow the health department recommendations to keep yourself healthy and stay informed of what’s happening in our community. I’ll keep you updated on the status of our efforts in the Legislature to respond.