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March 15, 2020

Health & Safety Information

We want to share information and resources about 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, to help you stay informed and healthy.

This page covers topics including: COVID-19 basics, how it spreads, severity of illnesssymptomswho is at riskprotecting yourselftreatmentinformation in other languages, and talking with children about COVID-19.

What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19?

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new respiratory virus strain that's spreading in numerous countries, including the United States.

The Washington State Department of Health has information on the number of cases in the state.

How does COVID-19 spread?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the virus is thought to spread from person to person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC also says it may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or possibly your eyes. That's not thought to be the main way it spreads, but experts still are learning about the virus, the agency says. The CDC recommends practicing frequent “hand hygiene,” which is either washing hands with soap or water or using an alcohol-based hand rub. CDC also recommends routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

How severe is COVID-19?

Experts are still learning about COVID-19, but reported cases have ranged from mild illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization, according to Public Health Seattle & King County.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms, which may appear in two to 14 days after exposure, include: 

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

(According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Who is at risk for COVID-19?

For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously sick from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low, according to the CDC.

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19, the agency says.

How can I protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019 Novel Coronavirus, and the best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent being exposed, according to the CDC.

The agency is recommending the following steps:

  • Clean your hands often. This means washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you've been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Here are some tips from the CDC on when and how to wash your hands:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Stay home while you are sick, except to get medical care, and avoid close contact with others.

  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.

  • Información en Español y Elimine los Gérmenes...Lavese las Manos.

How is COVID-19 treated?

There are no medications specifically approved for coronavirus. People with mild cases will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting and taking pain and fever medications. However, some people develop more serious illness and require medical care or hospitalization.

(According to Public Health Seattle & King County)

Is information available in other languages?

Yes, it is. Public Health Seattle & King County has information available in several languages, including Amharic, Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. 

What are some resources to help me talk with my child about COVID-19?

We've put together a list of information from experts to help you as you talk with your child about coronavirus.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The agency offered up the following tips to helping children deal with the outbreak:

  • Remain calm and reassuring. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from conversations you have with them and others.

  • Make yourself available to listen and to talk. Be sure children know they can come to you with questions.

  • Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma. Remember that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19.

  • Pay attention to what children see or hear on television, radio, or online.

  • Consider reducing the amount of screen time focused on COVID-19. Too much information on one topic can lead to anxiety.

  • Provide information that is honest and accurate. Give children information that is truthful and age appropriate, and talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.

  • Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.

The agency also has compiled extensive information on helping children cope with emergencies.

National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Nurses:

The organizations put together a document, Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - A Parent Resource, to help parents provide accurate information and facts without causing undue alarm.

The document is also available is several other languages, including SpanishChineseKorean and Amharic.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The agency has a fact sheet with strategies for parents, caregivers and teachers to use to help children manage stress during an infectious disease outbreak. The document is available at


The nonprofit children's health system recommends the following steps to help parents talk with their children about COVID-19:

  • Find out what your child already knows by asking questions geared to their age level. Examples: For older kids, ask, "Are people in school talking about coronavirus? What are they saying?"  And for younger kids, ask, "Have you heard grownups talking about a new sickness that's going around?" Also, follow their lead in talking, or not talking too much, about coronavirus.

  • Offer comfort and honesty. Be honest, but focus on helping your child feel safe and don't overwhelm them with details they aren't interested in.

  • Give your child specific things to help them feel in control, such as teaching them that getting enough sleep and properly washing their hands helps them stay healthy. Put news stories into context and let your child know it's normal to feel stressed out sometimes.

  • Keep the conversation going by checking with your child often and talking about current events.

Other Resources

Here are some other resources you may use to talk about the coronavirus with students: