What is the coronavirus? What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses that may cause illness in both humans and animals and includes diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
COVID-19 is a specific type of coronavirus that was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then, COVID-19 has spread globally and was officially declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of March 11, 2020. Upon declaration, the Director General of WHO stated: “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”
COVID-19 symptoms include fatigue, fever, and dry cough. Some patients also experience aches, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and/or diarrhea. Severe cases may result in breathing difficulty. The majority of those infected (~80%) recover without any special treatment, however 1/6 cases have resulted in severe illness. COVID-19 is most dangerous to those with underlying health conditions including compromised immune systems from high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes. The disease is typically spread through water droplets released when an infected individual coughs, not directly through the air. These water droplets can spread the disease through direct (person-to-person) or indirect (person-to-object-to-person) contact.
Washington State’s response
On March 11, Governor Jay Inslee announced on behalf of the state that all gatherings of 250+ people have been prohibited. This “social distancing plan” was put in place to minimize public exposure to COVID-19, and applies to social, spiritual and recreational activities in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties.
The following day, Gov. Inslee declared school closures in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties from March 17 – April 24. 2020. In a statement made during a press conference in Olympia, Gov. Inslee indicated this decision was made in the best interest of public health as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Puget Sound has been doubling roughly every 5-7 days with no indication of this rate declining.
What is ITS’ reaction to COVID-19?
While the schools are closing, ITS is open and operating with usual hours. Therapy rooms are being disinfected before and after each session, in addition to waiting rooms and door handles being disinfected regularly. Hand sanitizer is available at the check-in window for both client and staff use. We ask that if you or any of your family members are displaying symptoms to please cancel and reschedule your appointment for your safety, as well as the safety of our staff and other clients.
Although it is not currently available, ITS is looking into tele-health options.
What can you do to stay healthy?
The best way to stay healthy is to maintain personal hygiene and awareness of surroundings, including hand washing and disinfecting and avoiding touching your face. Attempt to maintain a 3 foot distance from anyone coughing or sneezing. If you are coughing or sneezing, covering your mouth/face with your elbow helps prevent the spread of saliva or water which may contain the virus. If you have symptoms associated with COVID-19, seek medical attention. Where possible, avoid traveling to disease hotspots, which are being followed online.
If you are infected, self-isolation is ideal for protecting yourself and others from furthering the illness. If you must go out, using a mask will help prevent the disease from spreading to others.