2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed life we know it in Washington State. Once viewed as a regional public health emergency in Western Asia, the outbreak hit close to home with the United States’ first confirmed case presenting in Washington State in January 2020.While the park facilities are closed at this time following Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home – Stay Healthy” declaration, the situation and projected re-opening remains very fluid. No one is quite sure when viral transmission will slow or when activity restrictions will be lifted. We are all hoping that the park will be open to enjoy plenty of warm summer days in the forest and on the beaches.
Information is power in this uncertain time but understanding COVID-19 can be very challenging. A few common questions are answered below:
How does COVID -19 spread and what can I do to protect myself?
COVID-19 is most commonly transmitted person-to-person in respiratory droplets such as coughs, sneezes, and saliva. Less commonly, the virus can remain viable on surfaces for hours to days and can be passed by touching that item. You can protect yourself by washing (or sanitizing) hands frequently throughout the day and cleaning commonly touched surfaces regularly. Avoidance of touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands decreases transmission further. Additionally, keeping the recommended 6 feet from others provides a buffer of safety from the infective droplets. You can protect those around you by covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick to not pass the virus to others.
Since most people recover fully from COVID-19, why is this all such a big deal? Do I really need to change my activity?
While it is true that the vast majority of people recover fully from COVID-19 infection, certain people are at higher risk of severe disease. Those in our community of more advanced age, those with chronic medical problems, or those taking medications that effect the immune system are more likely to become seriously ill. This is the time for our community to bond together to protect ALL of our members. We can reduce risk in our community by staying home or away from others as much as reasonably possible (especially true if sick) and trying to maintain the 6 foot buffer between people. Limiting activity reduces spread throughout the community and protects others!
I miss Deception Pass State Park! When will it open again? What can I do to exercise when parks are closed?
The park will reopen just as soon as it is safe to do so. While the park is closed, consider exercising as close to home as possible. A brisk walk or jog around the neighborhood can relieve stress and improve overall health. Exercising at home with videos or exercise equipment, such as a treadmill, can be another great option. Just remember, wherever you choose to exercise, try your best to follow the 6 foot buffer between yourself and others. Your own health and the well-being of your community relies on it!
Where can I find more information and recommendations about the COVID-19 situation?
With such a vast amount of information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know what information is reliable and trustworthy. Too much information can sow anxiety and fear. Too little information can lead to indifference and increased risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the local Washington State Department of Health are exemplary resources for information and guidance. Resources are updated daily with high-quality information and many more answers to questions that you may have. Links are below for further reading:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus