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March 16, 2020

Updated Social Distancing Information

There is more transmission of novel coronavirus in Skagit County than the confirmed case count indicates. Confirmation of cases through laboratory screening is not able to keep pace with ongoing community transmission. As has happened in other counties in Washington State, the virus keeps spreading from person to person as we continue to have close contact with others.

We are asking all Skagit County residents to do what they can to slow the spread of COVID-19, which will mean serious disruption to daily life. Our local businesses and service providers have made big changes to their operations to limit close personal contact. Public Health is asking that everybody do this in their personal lives as well. Although many public activities and events have been suspended, it is important that we postpone or cancel social activities too. With school out and some businesses experiencing temporary closures, this is not a time to expand family visits and social gatherings.

It is critical to minimize the number of people who get seriously ill at the same time. If too many people get sick at once, this will put a high burden on our healthcare system. We must all take action so that healthcare is there when we need it. Remember, a serious illness or injury could happen to any of us at any time.
In alignment with recommendations from the State, the Skagit County Health Officer has released new, additional guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • People at higher risk of severe illness should self-isolate now. This includes physical isolation from non-household family members, including grandchildren.
  • Everyone should limit activity outside the home to essential activities only, like buying groceries and going to work (if you cannot telecommute). Outdoor activities such as walking, running, biking, and hiking are encouraged.
  • The community should postpone all non-essential events and gatherings – both informal and formal. Fundraisers, weddings, lunchroom gatherings, book groups, service clubs, retirement parties, and other social activities are considered non-essential. Contact Skagit County Public Health for guidance at 360-416-1500 if you plan to hold any gathering outside of your immediate household members.
  • Parents should not arrange large playdates, sleepovers, or parties and keep their kids home. Kids should play outside to stay healthy and active.

Additionally, by order of Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Skagit County residents, businesses and organizations must observe the following social distancing requirements:

  • On-site consumption of food or beverage services are temporarily prohibited, except for at childcare services and school-based food programs. Takeout and delivery are allowed.
  • Certain recreation, entertainment, and leisure services are temporarily prohibited. See www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus for more details.
  • All other retail businesses must ensure adequate environmental cleaning of stores and must designate an employee or officer to implement a social distancing plan.
  • All gatherings – informal and formal – over 50 people are prohibited.
  • All gatherings with under 50 participants are prohibited unless certain public health criteria are met.

Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. When you notice shortages of products in the store, this is not because of a disruption to the supply chain, but it is because customers have bought it all. These shortages make it hard for other people in our community to find products when they need them. Maintain a fourteen day food supply, but otherwise, help your neighbors by buying just what you need.

Many workers are impacted by these closures. The Employment Security Department has just adopted a series of emergency rules to help people who are affected by COVID-19. The agency has temporary layoff, isolation and quarantine resources for workers and businesses. Check their website to see what benefits might be helpful to you. The State and Federal government are exploring additional measures for economic relief.

We must support one another. These recommendations create significant economic hardship and will be disruptive to daily life. Consider ways you can support your local businesses, loved ones, yourself, and community during this time of need:

  • Supporting businesses: Consider ordering takeout, delivery, or buying a gift card to a local restaurant or business.
  • Supporting loved ones: Video chat with friends and family or write a letter. If you are young and healthy, offer to assist with childcare. Offer to pick up groceries for a neighbor who can’t leave the house.
  • Supporting yourself: Managing stress is important. If you can, get outside for a walk. Listen to your favorite meditation app, take a class via YouTube, or tour museums virtually. Talk to your household about maintaining a regular routine. Take a break from the news.
  • Supporting community: Blood supplies have hit emergency levels due to coronavirus concerns. Consider donating blood. Reach out to your favorite nonprofit and ask what they need to get through this.

Skagit County will update its website daily, including adding mental health resources. Stay informed at www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus