On Monday, March 2, 2020, the City of Burien released the following statement about the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has now become very local since a victim is being treated at Highline Medical Center.

The city says it “is putting into place procedures to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in City-owned buildings. This includes disinfecting rooms used for classes and programs after each use, installing more hand sanitizing supplies in public spaces, and increased frequency of cleaning.”

Here’s the full statement, as posted on the city’s website:

In an effort to protect the Burien community and City of Burien staff, the City is putting into place procedures to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in City-owned buildings. This includes disinfecting rooms used for classes and programs after each use, installing more hand sanitizing supplies in public spaces, and increased frequency of cleaning. The City is also planning internally for potential operational disruption and coordinating with King County Public Health and health care and service providers to prepare for a community response.

The City of Burien continues to closely monitor this situation. We will continue to update our website and social media pages with updates regarding impacts to the Burien community as this situation evolves.

This is a quickly evolving situation so the best source for up-to-date and accurate information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is the King County Public Health website. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

COVID-19 in King County

King County has identified its first cases of novel coronavirus and more cases have been identified in the U.S. Tragically, there have already been deaths caused by the virus. We expect that more cases will be identified now that testing for coronavirus has expanded at state health departments and the criteria used to determine if someone should be tested have broadened.

In King County, along with a number of other places around the U.S., some people who have tested positive for novel coronavirus did not have travel to countries where COVID-19 is spreading. This indicates that there is some spread happening in the community, although we don’t yet know how widespread it is in the community. We should expect that there will be more cases identified in the weeks to come.

Most cases are mild

The number of cases are increasing, but the vast majority of the illnesses in the U.S. and around the world are mild, with fever and cough. About eighty percent of people infected with novel coronavirus have not needed hospital care. However, a much smaller percentage of cases are more severe and involve pneumonia, particularly in elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions.

When to seek medical evaluation and advice

      • If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
      • If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
      • If you’re over 60 or you have underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. Come up with a plan with your doctor to identify your health risks for coronavirus and how to manage symptoms. Contact your doctor right away if you do have symptoms.

More handwashing, less face touching

It’s important to know that we can take steps to decrease the risk of getting sick. And those same steps will reduce the spread of novel coronavirus, especially to protect those who are more vulnerable. We also need to be ready for the weeks ahead, when we are likely to see more cases.

Coronavirus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) via coughs or sneezes. It may also spread by touching a surface or object with the virus on it and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands. People are likely to be most contagious when they are the sickest, though some spread is possible before people show symptoms.

The same good health habits that prevent other viruses like the flu also prevent coronavirus spread and decrease the risk of getting sick:

      • Please, please, please: stay home when you’re sick.
      • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or a tissue.
      • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Soap and water is most effective, but if they aren’t available use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
      • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (like doorknobs and light switches). Regular household cleaners are effective.
      • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
      • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
      • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
      • Make plans for what you will do if many people are sick.
      • Even if most cases are relatively mild, there are impacts when large numbers of people are sick and absent from work and school all at the same time.

You may hear health officials recommend “social distancing,” or finding ways to put distance between yourself and others so that you don’t get sneezed or coughed on. If coronavirus becomes widespread, health officials will recommend actions that reduce the numbers of people coming into face-to-face contact to limit exposure and illness. This could include dismissing schools or childcare, postponing or canceling large gatherings and public events.

Plan now so that you can be ready in case many people are sick and can’t go to work or school. Talk at work about how your workplace can still operate if many workers are out sick or if they need to stay home to care of their family members.

Stronger together

Supporting others in our community will help us be resilient if the spread of coronavirus becomes more widespread.

Talk to your friends and neighbors about how you can help each other if people in your households get sick or if your children aren’t able to go to school or childcare. Can you drop groceries off on their doorstep? Can you take turns looking after children who aren’t sick?

Prevent any discrimination or stigmatization by sharing accurate information. Coronavirus infection is not connected to any race, ethnicity, or nationality.  Misinformation about coronavirus can create fear and hostility that harms people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. We have resources to address and prevent discrimination.


More resources