Sample of Public Health Effort to Respond to 2019-nCoV

This is just a snapshot of efforts for one larger metropolitan public health organization.

by Eric Holdeman / January 30, 2020

From King County, Wash., Public Health — 29 January:


A new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China in December of 2019 and is currently referred to as 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. The fact that this virus has caused severe illness and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning, but it’s unclear how the situation in the United States will unfold at this time. For the general public in the U.S., who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV is considered low.

On January 21st, 2020, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced the first case in the United States of 2019-nCoV in a resident of Snohomish County, WA who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China where the outbreak began. As of January 28, 2020, there are 5 confirmed case of 2019-nCoV in the United States (1- WA, 1- IL, 1-AZ, 2-CA). There has been no identification of locally acquired 2019-nCoV cases in King County.

Public Health – Seattle & King County (Public Health) continues to conduct surveillance for detection of new cases and monitor for potential exposure of individuals to the novel coronavirus. As of 5PM January 28, 2020, there are four persons under investigation (PUIs) in King County.

Public Health will continue to develop messages and materials for the public, media, employees, community partners, and healthcare providers. Our website has the most current information about the novel coronavirus:

• Public Health staff across multiple divisions and programs are working under the incident command system as a part of incident response
• Assessing reports of suspect cases, consulting with CDC, and initiating disease investigation if further evaluation or testing is needed
• Conducting surveillance for detection of disease
• Working with Harborview Medical Center Home Assessment Team to perform specimen collection and testing for suspect cases
• Developing strategies for isolation and quarantine, addressing logistical support needs, and protocols for decontamination of lodging facilities for travelers who may need to be evaluated or tested
• In partnership with Northwest Healthcare Response Network (NWHRN), surveying healthcare and emergency medical services (EMS) to determine their capabilities to evaluate, care for, and transport patients suspected of or confirmed to have acquired 2019-nCoV
• Providing guidance to healthcare providers on evaluation of patients including testing and use of infection control measures to identify cases and minimize the risk for exposure to others
• Coordinating with the Washington State Joint-Information-Center (JIC), DOH, and healthcare systems on public information
• Elevating concerns around anti-stigmatization and engaging with communities that have connections to impacted populations
• Translating novel coronavirus public messaging into Spanish and Chinese (other languages in process)
• Monitoring social media and other sources of information to clarify any misconceptions and identify misinformation on 2019-nCoV
• Responding to media inquiries
• Ongoing planning for future staffing and resources needs to support sustained response operations

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