By Steve Powell
MARYSVILLE – Students at Grove Elementary and the Early Learning Center received a surprise extra day off from school this week due to scares of the coronavirus.
Because a community member tested positive for coronavirus, Marysville schools superintendent Jason Thompson said in a letter to parents Monday that the two schools would be closed Tuesday as district crews disinfected both campuses.
Both reopened Wednesday with no change in absenteeism. However, absenteeism in the distrrict was 15% Tuesday, about double the norm, not including the two closed schools.
Thursday, city and county officials issued new recommendations for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus — urging residents to avoid or cancel large group gatherings — and said there are now 13 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Snohomish County. The recommendations also inclulded working from home if possible.
At Grove, the community member, who was not a school employee and had not been there in some time, was hospitalized but may have come into contact with children at those schools. The families of the children who may have had contact with the individual were notified, Thompson’s letter adds.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we will be closing both schools for disinfecting March 3,” Thompson’s letter says.
“It was inevitable,” Thompson said at Monday night’s school board meeting of the coronavirus reaching Marysville.
The closure was not directed by the health district.
“Please keep in mind that the district is taking this action in the interest of the safety of students, families and staff. We will continue to work directly with the health district in our response to this evolving public health concern,” Thompson’s letter states.
The letter added this advice:
If you or your child are not feeling well, please stay home. Additionally, contact your health care provider for further guidance on symptoms.
To help prevent the spread of viruses including, cold, flu and COVID-19:
•Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
•Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
•Avoid contact with people who are sick
•Stay home while sick and avoid close contact with others
•Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands.
•Use sanitizer on common surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs.
The virus is spread through respiratory droplets, like coughing or sneezing, when people are within 6 feet of each other.
There is no vaccine, but treatment with mild cases includes drinking plenty of fluids, resting and taking pain and fever medications. Symptoms are similar to the flu.
Earlier in the day, the health district came out with the same advice and added, “Do not go to the emergency room unless essential.”
It also said information changes frequently so go to www.snohd.org/ncov2019
The health district added that a student at Jackson High School is isolated at home, but not seriously ill. A woman in her 40s had been hospitalized. And a man in his 40s in Kirkland has died. Mariner High School was closed that man was the dad of a student there. The Snohomish County person thought to be the first case in January has fully recovered.
Statewide there have been 18 cases. Six people have died at EvergreenHealth Medical Center; four were living at an elderly care center in Kirkland.
The deaths are the first in the nation.
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring signed a proclamation of emergency. The proclamation is not a cause for alarm. It is a formal step that facilitates coordination with other agencies, including Snohomish County and the Snohomish County Health District, which intend to issue similar statements, and grants the city access to additional resources.
“The most important thing at this time is to prepare and take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus,” Nehring said. “Informed citizens are the first line of defense for themselves and their families.”
The city also has partially activated its Emergency Operations Center for monitoring purposes. City leaders are holding regular internal policy meetings to review the latest updates and implement preparedness plans as needed.
Snohomish County executive Dave Somers also intended to declare a local emergency to access state and federal help.
Meanwhile, Marysville firefighter/EMTs and paramedics, when dispatched to a patient with respiratory/flu symptoms, will be wearing gloves, a mask and goggles, at a minimum. If transporting a patient with respiratory symptoms, crew members will also wear protective gowns. These measures are being taken to help prevent the potential spread of the virus.
Also, many stores are selling out and trying to get more cleaning supplies such as hand sanitizers, disinfectants and antibacterial sprays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that most people have little risk of exposure, but it’s best to practice everyday habits such as vigorous hand washing with warm water and soap to slow the spread of the virus.
Other preventative measures recommended by the CDC include to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The CDC also states that facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Statistics show the coronavirus is fatal in only 2% of cases worldwide, and usually when there is a previous sickness. That is still 20 times more fatal than the regular flu. But to compare, the bird flu virus seven years ago was fatal in 39.3% of cases.
Arlington Public Schools, www.asd.wednet.edu
Lakewood School District www.lwsd.wednet.edu
Snohomish County Health District, www.snohd.org
State Department of Health, www.doh.wa.gov