The country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case of unknown origin was disclosed Wednesday in Northern California, setting off a new wave of concern about the possibility of a U.S. outbreak of the rapidly spreading virus.

But the best defense against this novel form of coronavirus is watchful calm and common sense.

For individuals, that means following long-established best practices for minimizing exposure to any virus — washing hands and covering coughs, being aware of symptoms and seeking prompt medical treatment if they appear.

For workplaces and institutions, that means routine environmental cleaning, reminding workers to stay away if they show signs of respiratory illness and sending sick employees home.

Northshore School District officials closed Bothell High School to thoroughly clean the building Thursday after an employee’s family member reported feeling ill after returning from a trip abroad.

But neither the CDC nor local public health officials are recommending any extraordinary measures at this time. No need to bar the door just yet. No need to skip the movies or invest in industrial quantities of Lysol. Just be aware.


As of Thursday morning, health officials had tracked more than 82,500 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness in 50 countries. Of those, 2,810 cases resulted in deaths — mostly in mainland China. More than 33,250 patients had recovered.

That includes the 35-year-old Snohomish County man who was the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the country. He was treated at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett and monitored by health officials until recently, The Seattle Times reported. Officials say he is fully recovered.

The man, who developed symptoms shortly after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China, provides the perfect model of how to fight the spread of coronavirus — when he developed symptoms, he promptly went to the doctor. Others should do the same.

No one can predict with certainty how serious an impact the virus will have — how many illnesses or how many deaths, but it is important to keep perspective as the community prepares for more possible cases of COVID-19.

The best way to prepare is staying calm and well-informed.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Washington State Department of Health has created a public hotline for questions about coronavirus in Washington, how it is spread or what to do if you have symptoms: 800-525-0127 and press #.

This article has been updated to reflect that Bothell High School remained closed Friday.