State-owned property behind the Washington State Public Health Laboratory in Shoreline has been identified as a site to quarantine healthy people who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, according to the state health department.
The site, near the laboratory at 1610 N.E. 150th St., likely will be ready over the weekend if there is a need for a traveler to be quarantined, public-health officials said Friday.
According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), state officials have been charged with finding several possible quarantine sites in response to federal measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. The Shoreline location is the second designated site; earlier this week, DOH announced the Washington State Patrol Fire Training Academy near North Bend had been chosen as a potential quarantine site for people returning from Hubei province.
Healthy people who have traveled to China’s Hubei province, which is at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, would be sent to the quarantine spot if they aren’t able to quarantine elsewhere. They would be housed for up to two weeks in one of four rented recreational vehicles, which will be fenced off to provide privacy and security. Each RV has space for six people, but a solo traveler would receive his or her own, while families could stay together.
People sent to the Shoreline site would be regularly monitored by staff, who would provide food and laundry services, officials said.
If anyone sent into quarantine becomes sick, he or she would be evaluated and taken to a medical facility.
Officials monitoring the quarantine site plan to work to make sure anyone who stays there is “as comfortable, well-fed and healthy as humanly possible,” DOH Incident Commander Ken Wickersham said at a news conference Friday.
DOH officials say the best option is for people exposed to the virus to quarantine themselves at home. If travelers are unable to quarantine at home, they will be monitored and assisted by local health departments. Some people, for example, may live too far away to return to their own home, or they might be living with others who hadn’t traveled and aren’t required to be quarantined.
A DOH call center has been established to answer questions from the public about the mandatory quarantine, how the virus is spread and to provide guidance for those exhibiting symptoms. Contact the call center at 800-525-0127, then press #.
Meanwhile, officials with Public Health – Seattle & King County say that as misinformation flourishes amid fear of the outbreak they’ve been receiving reports of people being discriminated against based on how they look, their ancestry or for wearing masks.
“Your race and ethnicity does not put you at any additional risk or make you more likely to get sick,” Public Health Director Patty Hayes said at a news conference Friday at Asian Counseling and Referral Services to warn against such stigma. “Showing fear or hostility toward someone based upon how they look, it is not only wrong and hurtful but it can harm our ability to keep everyone healthy.”
People shouldn’t assume that someone wearing a mask is sick, said Lalita Uppala, a commissioner with the King County Immigrant and Refugee Commission. They might be wearing a mask to keep from getting sick because it’s flu season, or to keep pollen at bay, she said.
“What you should know is that, in many Asian countries, wearing a mask is actually quite common,” she said.
To avoid catching the novel coronavirus — known officially as 2019-nCoV — people should take the same precautions they would take to avoid catching the flu, health experts advise.