Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee today declared a state of emergency in response to new cases of COVID-19, directing state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.
“This will allow us to get the resources we need,” Inslee said. “This is a time to take common-sense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state. Our state agency directors have been actively preparing since the nation’s first case appeared in Snohomish County. Washingtonians can be assured we’ve taken this threat seriously and have been working in collaboration with our health care partners to develop plans and procedures to prepare for what could likely be a world-wide pandemic.”
He issued a proclamation that directs state agencies and departments to utilize state resources and do everything reasonably possible to assist affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases. It also allows the use of the Washington National Guard, if necessary. In January, the Washington Military Department activated the State Emergency Operations Center at a Level 1, the highest level, to help coordinate a statewide response.
Today, Public Health – Seattle & King County announced the death of an individual with COVID-19, the first in the United States.
The nation’s first case of COVID-19 was found in a Snohomish County man in January. He had traveled to Wuhan, China and has now recovered. On Feb. 28, the state Department of Health announced two additional cases – a King County woman who had recently traveled to South Korea, and a Snohomish County teenager with no travel history. Both are recovering at home and remain in home isolation.
The Department of Health also announced last week that the Public Health Lab in Shoreline now has the capability to test for cases of COVID-19, expediting results.
“This means our state can respond quickly and effectively,” Inslee said. “Our priority now is to slow the spread of this virus. Our health care professionals say the easiest way to do that is to practice good hygiene – wash your hands often, sanitize frequently touched surfaces and stay home when you’re sick. Preventing future cases will require the work of all of us.”
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